Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self

Approximately one in every two thousand infants born in the United States each year is sexually ambiguous in such a way that doctors cannot immediately determine the child's sex. Some children's chromosomal sexuality contradicts their sexual characteristics. Others have the physical traits of both sexes, or of neither. Drawing upon life history interviews with adults who were treated for intersexuality as children, Sharon E. Preves explores how such individuals experience and cope with being labeled sexual deviants in a society that demands sexual conformity. By demonstrating how intersexed people manage and create their own identities, often in conflict with their medical diagnosis, Preves argues that medical intervention into intersexuality often creates, rather than mitigates, the stigma these people suffer.