Making Sense of Intersex: Changing Ethical Perspectives in Biomedicine

Ellen K Feder, Author
Ellen K. Feder. Indiana Univ., $28 (328p) ISBN 978-0-253-01228-9
Reviewed on: 01/13/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Open Ebook - 279 pages - 978-0-253-01232-6
Hardcover - 278 pages - 978-0-253-01224-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-66146-1
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In a voice both urgent and nuanced, Feder squarely faces the complexities that accompany the care of people with atypical sex anatomies in medical science. Intersex people are those whose biology (including chromosomes and genitals) makes it so that they are neither clearly male nor female. Over the past 20 years, the standard of care for intersex people (particularly newborns) has been met with increased scrutiny and criticism from researchers and activists, with the long-standing preference for immediate and unquestioned surgery growing more obviously dubious. Feder is an astute and progressive philosopher, and her bioethical focus takes into account the care and education of intersex people as well as their families, doctors, and communities. She builds this transformative approach through a blend of field research, medical history, and modern philosophy—an array of disciplines that she manages to make stimulating rather than daunting. While activists or medical professionals might disagree with some of her claims, Feder’s attention to the “moral challenges we face as embodied subjects in a damaged world, including those challenges posed by our efforts to deny our vulnerability,” is powerful. Rich with cross-discipline potential, Feder’s engaging argument should provide a new approach for doctors and parents caring for children with atypical sex anatomy. (May)
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