Or something. Right? I'm pretty sure Billy Shakes said something darn close to that. (Controversy surrounding who wrote what Shakespeare works aside, of course, since that's something that's miiiiiiiiiighty lateral to what I want to REALLY talk about!)
I've noticed that the Accord Alliance - started up by the former founder of the now-defunct Intersex Society of North America, Cheryl Chase - advocates the use of the term "disorders of sexual devleopment" (or "DSD") in place of the term "intersex." The earliest use of this term is in the Journal of Pediatric Urology by Hughes et al., 2006, in an article entitled "Consensus statement on management of intersex disorders." I don't have access to the entire article, but I can get you the abstract. Basically, the authors of this article feel that "disorders of sexual development" is a better phrase than "intersex" because it "...integrate[s] progress in molecular genetic aspects of sex development..." Okay, okay. I get it. Because we know that various genetic, anatomical, and physiological sutes possessed by intersex individuals are caused by molecular processes intiated in fetal development, using DSD might be a better choice. And it's important for all professionals to switch to DSD because standardizing language is essential to communicate effectively, and blah blah blah. Let's dissect this argument a little bit, shall we?
"Intersex" is definitely a term with many problems. "Inter" and "sex," when paired together, create an image in my mind of taking a female form, and taking a male form, and then violently mashing them together, until you end up with an individual that's BOTH! They're INTER - SEX! Get it? This is obviously not how it works, so discussions regarding the creation of a new term to replace "intersex" are great and really important.
I don't think "disorders of sexual development" is it, though, for two reasons. My first objection is rooted in identity. DSD focuses on the science-y things, yes, but it is problematic for those that identify their sex as intersex. If I were to say to someone, "I'm intersex," yes, I wouldn't necessarily expect them to have heard this term and what it means and maybe confuse it with a lot of other words regarding sex and gender identity, performance, presentation, etc. If DSD is universally accepted and replaces "intersex" entirely, then what would I say to someone? I think it would go something like this:
Me: "I have a disorder of sexual development, or a DSD. [lengthy explanation]"
Individual A: "Oh, well, what do you call yourself?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
Individual A: "Well, you used to identify as 'intersex,' and not as biologically male or female. If you accept the use of DSD, how would you identify?'
Me: "Oh, um...I'm...disordered?"
This is not how I choose to identify. There is a big difference between recongnizing that my development was atypical, and that it was "disordered." One can wave their hands and quickly reassure me in soothing tones that disordered is just in terms of the science, and that of coure I MYSELF would NEVER be considered disorded (to which I'd ask in less soothing tones "So, why was it that those doctors forced all of those vaginal dilations on me again?"). But "disordered" absolutely has a negative connotation in the majority dialects of Western speech. (I'll allow that this might not be the case across the board.) If there's anything we don't need, it's more stigmatization of intersex people. Haven't we had enough of being subtly or blatantly regarded as grotesque, malformed, monstrous spectacles?
Many intersex individuals do choose to identify as biological males, or biological females. That's perfectly fine, and I think it's great if that is how they identify! However, I think this new terminology is problematic for those of us that don't identify as biologcial males or females.
My second contention is that this terminology does not - and cannot - reflect all of the varied ways an individual may choose to identify. This term was embraced by and, in part, created with the help of the Accord Alliance, which included Intersex Society of North America founder Cheryl Chase (who probably does not identify as "disordered"), yes. But can Chase and other intersex individuals consulted speak for each INDIVIDUAL that has a "DSD"? Should we allow for a term that is not inclusive, and forces some individuals to identify in a way that is not authentic to them?
Should we condone DSD, formerly known as intersex?
What do you think?