Buon lunedì, prodi seguaci!🎨
La settimana inizia con una citazione da un libro tanto denso quanto interessante: Making Sense of Intesex: Changing Ethical Perspectives in Biomedicine di Ellen K. Feder. Non so che m’è preso di leggere un libro così impegnativo con il caldo, ogni anno sembro dimenticarmi di quanto il mio cervello mal sopporti le letture impegnate durante i periodi torridi.
Among the most important “lessons from the intersexed,” according to Suzanne Kessler, must be acceptance of the category of gender as “always constructed.” No longer should we understand the construction of gender to apply only in the cases of those children who have had “reconstructive (which is not to say cosmetic) surgery.” In this view the refusal to view gen- ital ambiguity or other manifestations of atypical sex as a sign of the cul- tural construction of gender as a whole has resulted in the imperative to normalize children’s bodies. “Accepting genital ambiguity as a natural op- tion,” Kessler famously wrote, “would require that physicians also acknowl- edge that genital ambiguity is ‘corrected,’ not because it is threatening to the infant’s life but because it is threatening to the infant’s culture” (1990, 25; 1998, 32).
I suspect that one reason that normalizing surgeries continue to be cast today as an imperative—and those few parents who have delayed or declined surgery taken to be unusual or even exceptional, together with the small number of physicians who recommend against such surgery—is that the category of gender is a fundamental organizing structure of our social world, a privileged “structuring structure” (Bourdieu 1990 , 53). So fundamental is it that we may say that gender—or, more accurately, sexual difference—is the primary structure through which we make sense of the world and the world makes sense of us. For this reason I believe that under- standing the problem of atypical sex in the terms that Kessler first pro- posed, the terms that have guided so much critical discussion in the two decades following—that is, as a problem of the “misrecognition” of sex as a social production—has functioned not to promote reform in care, but to justify ever more powerfully a standard of care that is intended to afford a child what are thought to be the considerable benefits of normality.
Putting the ethical tools of philosophy to work, Ellen K. Feder seeks to clarify how we should understand “the problem” of intersex. Adults often report that medical interventions they underwent as children to “correct” atypical sex anatomies caused them physical and psychological harm. Proposing a philosophical framework for the treatment of children with intersex conditions–one that acknowledges the intertwined identities of parents, children, and their doctors–Feder presents a persuasive moral argument for collective responsibility to these children and their families.