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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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Doubting Sex

Geertje Mak

Manchester University Press

This chapter investigates the ways in which sex was examined in early case histories. Anna Barbara Meier decided to disclose himself to his physician because he wanted to marry the woman he had made pregnant ‘out of genuine affection’. Meier's disclosure consisted merely of his own words describing his sex. As Meier wanted to reassign her sex and get married, she had to overcome her deep shame at exposing her genitals because this was ordered by the court. It further explores how sex and sexual function were assessed during Meier's subsequent examinations. The hermaphrodite's sexual feelings were examined in a very concrete, physical way. During the first half of the century, visual inspection combined with superficial palpation, simple penetration and interrogation of the hermaphrodite were the main examination techniques. Central to a physician's enquiry was the question of how (in which role) a person could function in procreation.

Keywords:   sex, Anna Barbara Meier, sexual function, hermaphrodite, visual inspection, superficial palpation, physician

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