Fixing Sex, by Professor Katrina Karkazis

Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience (Duke University Press, 2008), by Professor Katrina Karkazis, is a seminal text on the highly controversial medical efforts to “treat” intersex people, historically known as the field of “intersex medical management.”

A medical anthropologist and bioethicist at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Karkazis outlines the practice of nonconsensual medically unnecessary surgeries, a.k.a. Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM), that intersex infants and minors have been routinely subjected to. In the process, she reviews the history of opposition to IGM by intersex advocates, including founding director Hida Viloria, and examines medical imperatives for continuing the practice of IGM.

Karkazis is an intersex ally who published extensively on the topic of discrimination against intersex women athletes after publishing Fixing Sex. In 2014, she led efforts for Indian intersex athlete Dutee Chand to be allowed to compete as a woman without undergoing medically unnecessary hormone treatment, via an online petition and with the online campaign Let Dutee Run. She later teamed up with Payoshni Mitra, an Indian researcher and activist on gender and sports, and Canadian author, academic and former star athlete Bruce Kidd, to support Chand’s case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport to be reinstated a female athlete .

In July, 2015, as reported in Verdict, their efforts on behalf of Chand and all intersex women athletes were victorious:

“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (“the court”), the final appeals court for global sports, suspended the practice of “hyperandrogenism regulation” by the International Association of Athletics Federations (“the I.A.A.F.”), the governing body of track and field. The court ruled that a woman’s having a high level of natural testosterone in her body is insufficient grounds for barring her from competing in women’s athletics.”

We thanks Karkazisi for her extensive work advocating on behalf of equal rights for intersex people, and highly recommend Fixing Sex for all wanting to learn more about the history of and imperatives behind Intersex Genital Mutilaltion.