Between Concealing and Revealing Intersexed Bodies: Parental Strategies

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Abstract

Parents of intersex children are perceived in many studies as hopeless, highly dependent on the medical system, and as gate keepers of normative gendered bodies. In this article, we challenge these perceptions and argue that parents of intersex children are problematically positioned between their children’s needs for care and well-being and the socialmedical forces that aim to “normalize” them. Their in-between position leads them to establish different parental strategies within and outside of traditional sex/gender norms. We focus on three intertwined parental strategy frameworks: bodily dialogue, sex/gender framing, and concealing/revealing practices, and describe how, in each of these strategic frameworks, the parents maneuver, act in accordance with or against, react to, and challenge the medical system, social interactions, and the sex/gender paradigm. This is a comparative study based on narrative interviews with 22 parents of intersex children in Germany and Israel.

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