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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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Sex Assignment Around 1900. From a Legal to a Clinical Issue

Sex Assignment Around 1900. From a Legal to a Clinical Issue

(p.165) 7 Sex Assignment Around 1900. From a Legal to a Clinical Issue
Doubting Sex

Geertje Mak

Manchester University Press

This chapter describes how physicians' relationships to the law had become troubled by the end of the nineteenth century. It discusses the conflict between legal purpose and a humanitarian perspective that came to a head in discussions concerning plastic surgery on genitals and secondary sex characteristics. It is shown that when doctors were not consulted within a legal context, their diagnostic role was decidedly not the same as that of a judge. Some physicians had strong doubts as to whether the gonads alone should be decisive within a legal context. J. Riddle Goffe presented a brief summary of state-of-the-art medical thinking on hermaphroditism in which Goffe shows himself to be a true believer and supporter of the gonadal ‘true sex’ theory. Both Franz Ludwig von Neugebauer and Fred Taussig took the patient's ‘sexual desires’ as the marker of psychological sex. The position of hermaphrodites underwent structural change.

Keywords:   sex, genitals, plastic surgery, gonads, J. Riddle Goffe, Franz Ludwig von Neugebauer, Fred Taussig, hermaphroditism, sexual desires, hermaphrodites

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