Mainstream Fictional Depictions of Intersex Experience: Representations and Real Lives

By Jennifer Lee.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper presents a range of similar experiences that relate to the lives of intersex people. These experiences often include non-disclosure by medical professionals and parents about their intersex diagnosis, supposedly to facilitate the child's acceptance of their assigned sex. In the past, medical professionals have often only disclosed part of the diagnosis to parents, so it is difficult for parents to have the information they need to inform their children about their intersex condition. This paper moves the discussion from this common intersex narrative to discuss the depictions of intersex characters in mainstream contemporary fictional accounts. Some fictional depictions of intersex characters include the issue of non-disclosure in the narrative, others depict very rare intersex conditions, and others present an alternative and preferred method for medical professionals to manage intersex births. It is argued that narratives that reflect the experiences of the majority of intersex people are needed, to authentically mirror their lives. These narratives are needed in order to challenge the taboos associated with this topic and to increase understanding about the issues.

Keywords: Intersex, Gender, Sexuality, Sex, Medical Ethics, Fiction, Film, Television, Memoir, Real Lives

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 11, pp.169-184. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 652.623KB).

Dr. Jennifer Lee

Lecturer, School of Communication and the Arts, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Jennifer Lee is a Lecturer in Creative Writing and Literary Studies at Victoria University in Australia. She teaches memoir and fiction writing, and a range of literary studies subjects. Jennifer has published fiction, non-fiction and memoir and she curates Reading events at Australian arts festivals. Her research and creative work has focused on ‘intrusions on the body’, including intersex and non-consenting infant surgery, female sexual abusers of children, and representations of fat characters - relating to the field of Fat Studies.


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