Event Title

Gendering Genitals: Medical Discourse and Healthcare Provider Education on Intersex Conditions

Presenter Information

Tess Jewell, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 241

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2018 12:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2018 1:20 PM

Abstract

When an infant is born, parents are often asked, “is it a boy or a girl?” The fixation on a binary gender determined by bodily sex characteristics leads to stigma against people who are born with bodies that don’t conform to the two inflexible sexes posited as the norms in our society. Intersex conditions result in combinations of external genitalia, internal genitalia and chromosomes in such a way that they don’t neatly fit our society’s expectations of “man” or “woman.” There exists a long history of people with intersex conditions being mistreated by healthcare providers, and to improve and standardize care for people with intersex conditions, the Consensus Statement was published in 2006. To understand the impact of the Consensus Statement on the language used in medical discourse, I conducted a two-part analysis on a sample of peer-reviewed journal articles accessible on Pubmed. I investigated the frequency of use of gendering and pathologizing language as well as the framing of the patient’s body, sex and gender in the literature. To understand the education experience for healthcare providers I conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with seven providers from two institutions in the United States. Healthcare providers often described not learning about intersex conditions until they began seeing patients, once established in their careers. Many cited Pubmed and journal articles as a source of knowledge. Themes of gendering and pathologizing language were present in articles published in ten years before and after the publication of the Consensus Statement, but there was a significant decrease in the use of gendering language, as well as a notable decrease in the use of pathologizing language following the Consensus Statement.

Keywords:

intersex, differences of sex development, medicalization

Notes

Session II, Panel 4 - Health | Economies
Moderator: Jan Cooper, John C. Reid Associate Professor of Rhetoric & Composition and English

Major

Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies; Biology

Advisor(s)

Rebecca Whelan, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
Taylor Allen, Biology

Project Mentor(s)

Rebecca Whelan, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Evangeline Heiliger, Comparative American Studies
Greggor Mattson, Sociology

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Apr 27th, 12:00 PM Apr 27th, 1:20 PM

Gendering Genitals: Medical Discourse and Healthcare Provider Education on Intersex Conditions

King Building 241

When an infant is born, parents are often asked, “is it a boy or a girl?” The fixation on a binary gender determined by bodily sex characteristics leads to stigma against people who are born with bodies that don’t conform to the two inflexible sexes posited as the norms in our society. Intersex conditions result in combinations of external genitalia, internal genitalia and chromosomes in such a way that they don’t neatly fit our society’s expectations of “man” or “woman.” There exists a long history of people with intersex conditions being mistreated by healthcare providers, and to improve and standardize care for people with intersex conditions, the Consensus Statement was published in 2006. To understand the impact of the Consensus Statement on the language used in medical discourse, I conducted a two-part analysis on a sample of peer-reviewed journal articles accessible on Pubmed. I investigated the frequency of use of gendering and pathologizing language as well as the framing of the patient’s body, sex and gender in the literature. To understand the education experience for healthcare providers I conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with seven providers from two institutions in the United States. Healthcare providers often described not learning about intersex conditions until they began seeing patients, once established in their careers. Many cited Pubmed and journal articles as a source of knowledge. Themes of gendering and pathologizing language were present in articles published in ten years before and after the publication of the Consensus Statement, but there was a significant decrease in the use of gendering language, as well as a notable decrease in the use of pathologizing language following the Consensus Statement.