The Disabling Affects of a Sexed System: An Exploration of Intersexuality, Transgender and Sexual Citizenship
Transsexual, intersexual and disabled bodies occasionally cross paths in disability studies as illustrations of the medical model’s negativity towards “unsound” body morphologies (Shildrick 2002). Medical discourse about bodies is based on heteronormative, normatively gendered, non-impaired bodies as nature’s ideal (Price and Shildrick 1998), leaving transsexual, intersexual and impaired bodies as metaphors for moral and physical degeneracy. The latter group of bodies have difficulty entering into normative citizenship rights on many levels; however, arguably none more so than within sexual citizenship. I use the term sexual citizenship to include the responsibilities and rights of sexed bodies and sexual acts. Quite simply, to have a sex ascribed at birth will determine your sex in law and your sexuality in any relationships that are legislated upon, such as marriage and civil partnerships. Judith Butler’s (1990) concept “heterosexual matrix” illustrates the universal assumption that the sexed body is prediscursive in opposition to gender which is culturally constructed. She suggests that sex too is constructed through the medicolegal system. In this chapter, I will illustrate how the sexed body is constructed differently in relation to normative, intersexual and transsexual bodies in the UK. I will draw on the phenomenological experiences of Gregory, a transman who is disabled and identifies as queer (queer, according to him signifies that he is moving beyond binary notions of sexuality). Gregory’s complex story reveals the ways in which he negotiates his sexual citizenship through various embodied identities. Gregory’s negotiations are structured by the (dis)abling effects of medicine, law and family, through the birth certificate, which has much power in granting him social legitimacy.
Citation : Davy, Z. (2010). The Disabling Affects of a Sexed System: An Exploration of Intersexuality, Transgender and Sexual Citizenship. In: Shuttleworth, R. & Sanders, T. (Eds), Sexuality & Disability: Politics, Identity, Access. Leeds, Disability Press: pp. 179-195
Research Institute : Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care
Peer Reviewed : Yes