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Doubting SexInscriptions, Bodies and Selves in Nineteenth-century Hermaphrodite Case Histories$
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Geertje Mak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086908

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086908.001.0001

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Early Sex Reassignments and the Absence of a Sex of Self

Early Sex Reassignments and the Absence of a Sex of Self

(p.43) 2 Early Sex Reassignments and the Absence of a Sex of Self
Doubting Sex

Geertje Mak

Manchester University Press

This chapter describes the self of hermaphrodites as it appears in cases of sex reassignment following medical examinations. It introduces the historiography of sex and self. It also discusses how the selves of hermaphrodites were envisioned in German and French medical case histories. Dror Wahrman's theory is very helpful in making a distinction between different ways in which the self has been conceptualized throughout history. He shows a distinct shift in the appreciation of women playing men's roles. The self was not conceived of as a distinct entity, but presented in its connection to either the outside world or to the body. Sex is an indication of someone's proper place in society. It is a location and reassigning it uproots a person. It is noted that a reassignment of sex or an annulment of marriage deeply affected the lives of the people involved in hermaphrodite.

Keywords:   hermaphrodites, sex reassignment, self, medical case histories, Dror Wahrman

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