An Intersex Affirming Biology Textbook is Finally Available!

For centuries and to this day, intersex people and sex characteristics have been portrayed and described negatively within Western medical and scientific discourse, with words such as, “deficient,” “defective” “deformed,” “abnormal,” or “disorder.” As just one of thousands of examples, just last year, a piece in the LA Times, while generally supportive of intersex people, casually referred to an enlarged clitoris as a “deformity.” This rhetoric has fostered deeply embedded societal notions that being intersex is inferior to being typically male or female.

We are thus thrilled to announce the publication of The Spectrum of Sex: The Science of Male, Female, and Intersex (Jessica Kingsley Publishers – Hachette UK), the first biology text to describe the existence of intersex people and sex characteristics using exclusively neutral, non-stigmatizing language! Co-authored by our Founding Director Hida Viloria, with biology professor Maria Nieto, Ph.D, the book informs readers in a clear, scientific manner on the many different ways that human sex expresses itself, and also features fantastic illustrations by Alex Law and stories by award-winning intersex author Thea Hillman, and intersex activists Nick Manchester and our Associate Director, Dana Zzyym.

The Spectrum of Sex has received glowing early reviews from intersex sociologist and award winning author Georgiann Davis, noted trans biologist and author Joan Roughgarden, and science educator and academic officer Jamie Marantz, as seen below.

“It is said that no book can do it all, but The Spectrum of Sex does just that in terms of enlightening readers, of all backgrounds, about the complexities of sex and gender. The authors brilliantly explain complex anatomical and genetic jargon in accessible ways that will be eye-opening to everyone from high school students enrolled in a sex education course to doctors who wish to continue learning about the complexities of bodies in order to be better providers for their patients. The authors creatively incorporate first-person accounts of life from people from diverse sex and/or gender communities to remind readers that what they are learning has real world implications for all of us. Highly recommended.”
– Georgiann Davis, author of Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis and Associate Professor of Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“The Spectrum of Sex uniquely presents a timely and important overview of sex/gender diversity in humans that includes an extensive examination of intersex. Many are surprised to learn that intersex persons are more common than trans and less common than gays. The book reviews the biology underlying intersex expression and features brief essays from intersex and non-binary persons, offering an engaging forum for these communities to speak forth with their own voice.”
– Joan Roughgarden, Professor of Biology (Emerita) at Stanford University and author of Evolution’s Rainbow, Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People (University of California Press, 2004)

“The Spectrum of Sex gives readers a unique dual perspective on the science as well as the experiences of intersex individuals. It’s unusual for a book to do such a thorough job of making science accessible while also telling a compelling story of human experience. Read this book to not only learn about the biology of intersex, but to also gain compassionate insights for the lived experiences of individuals with sexual variance.”
– Jamie Marantz, Science Educator, Former Chief Academic Officer, Envision Schools, Executive Director of the Alameda County Office of Education and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at North Monterey County Unified School District

Through its exploration of the connection between sex diversity and gender expression, this biology text is uniquely trans and non-binary affirming, as well as intersex affirming, featuring additional stories by non-binary elder Les Hamanaka and long term married couple Angela (a trans woman), and Jonni (a non-trans woman) Pettit. Examining historical, linguistic and socio-cultural understandings of sex and gender, as well as genetic and scientific definitions, this pioneering text is an essential introduction to gender and sex diversity for gender studies, women’s studies, biology and genetics courses, as well as professionals working with intersex and trans communities.