Individuals with Differences in Sex Development: Consult to Colombia Constitutional Court Regarding Sex and Gender

29 Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society 421 (2014)

25 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2015

See all articles by Hazel Glenn Beh

Hazel Glenn Beh

University of Hawaii

Milton Diamond

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Date Written: September 1, 2014

Abstract

A dichotomous construction of sex and gender has pervaded modern societies, but this construction has never squared with the reality that humans exist along a sexual spectrum that ranges between male and female characteristics. In the modern era, society has depended on the biological sciences to facilitate the sorting of individuals into male and female classifications. A dubious assumption underlies the male-female dichotomy that an ambiguous sex presentation represents an error of nature to be set right by moving the individual to one end of sexual spectrum or the other.

Another alternative might be to accept those with DSD as having their own identity, and to understand their condition as a variant or difference in human sexuality, not a disorder. This alternative approach recognizes that medical science has a helping, but not defining, role to play in establishing the legal status of sexual minorities. With greater acceptance that sex and gender exists along a spectrum comes recognition that the intersex hold equal space along that sexual spectrum. By accepting intersex and transgender as manifesting variation not disorder, it follows that a right to self-identity and autonomy must be infused into any governmental system that seeks to impose sex classifications onto individuals and that no registration of an infant by sex should be compelled at birth. Most individuals will probably have a strong leaning toward male or female; but leaving that choice to the individual is an important human freedom.

Suggested Citation

Beh, Hazel Glenn and Diamond, Milton, Individuals with Differences in Sex Development: Consult to Colombia Constitutional Court Regarding Sex and Gender (September 1, 2014). 29 Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society 421 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2663851

Hazel Glenn Beh (Contact Author)

University of Hawaii ( email )

2515 Dole St.
William S. Richardson School of Law
Honolulu, HI 96822
United States
(808) 956-6553 (Phone)
(808) 956-5569 (Fax)

Milton Diamond

University of Hawaii at Manoa ( email )

2500 Campus Road
Honolulu, HI NA 96822
United States

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