Chapter 3 of Sexing the Body analyses how doctors, parents, and society deal with intersex newborns. The chapter is divided in three chapters: confronting the intersex newborn, “fixing” intersexuals, and the uses of intersexuality.
In the first section, Sterling observes how doctors and parents interact with the intersex babies. As she points out, when a baby is born intersexual, doctors “declare a state of emergency” (45), forcing parents to make precipitate choices, and pressuring them to be sure about their decision in assigning a sex to their intersex baby. Most doctors tend to categorize the intersexual babies in either male or female, forcing the parents to ‘normalize’ the situation by choosing or accepting what would be the most convincing sex to their child. Sterling also observes that doctors don’t like to use terms such as hermaphrodites because it constitutes a category other than male or female. They like to use more specific medical terms which indicates the intersexual baby is just unusual in some aspect of their physiology, and not that they belong to a category other than male or female.
Studies presented by Sterling in this section have concluded that gonads, hormones, and chromosomes don’t automatically determine a child’s gender role. However, none of those studies ever suggested that there can be more than just female or male sexes. Because of this, most doctors think it is necessary for patients to have surgeries to assign their sex because of the need of being either a female or male. According to Sterling, those physicians who decide how to manage intersexuality hold strong beliefs about male and female sexuality, gender roles, and the proper or improper place of homosexuality in normal development (48).
In section two, Sterling talks about the role of prenatal, surgical and psychological fixing of intersexual newborns. Prenatal therapy has been used to produce gender-normal children. Most types of intersexuality can’t be changed by...