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Valerie Hiebert Dennis Hiebert

Abstract

Intersex persons – those born with some combination of male and female physical characteristics – require both sociology and Christianity to take human embodiment more seriously in order to understand better their human experience of self and society. Stories of the lives of intersex persons disclose their struggle with bodies that are physically healthy, yet socially and religiously pathologized, and subjected to medical intervention designed to enforce heteronormativity. This imposed normalization re-constructs their bodies to be more exclusively male or female, regardless of the painful social-psychological costs to the individual.  Intersex is not uncommon, just largely unknown.  Cultural, and originally Christian, insistence on a binary opposition of maleness and femaleness is at the root of Western antipathy toward intersexuality. Recent political activism on their behalf has brought some small social change, but in its concerns about the morality of sexuality, the Christian church is failing to affirm the integrous personhood of intersexuals, and to welcome and love them as neighbors like any others, just as Jesus affirmed eunuchs.
 
 
KEYWORDS:  intersex, embodiment, medicalization, sex assignment, hermaphrodite, LGBTQI, Christianity

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