I receive many requests to explain the biological nature of human sexuality. The questions usually address homosexuality, intersexuality, or transgender feelings.
In my work, I argue that the two-sex system embedded in our society is not adequate to encompass the full spectrum of human sexuality. Discrete buckets – like “nature” or “nurture”, “boy” or “girl” – are too simplistic for the inherent messiness found in nature. As I have argued in The Five Sexes and The Five Sexes Revisited, the boundaries separating masculine and feminine seem harder than ever to define. Some find the changes under way deeply disturbing. Others find them liberating. While the legal system may have an interest in maintaining only two sexes, our collective biologies do not.
My three short articles on the topic listed below are a good place to start, but I provide a list of books for further reading as well.
R E S O U R C E S
Fausto-Sterling, Anne (2000) & M. Blackless, A. Charuvastra, A. Derryck, K. Lauzanne, E. Lee, “How Sexually Dimorphic Are We? Review and Synthesis” American Journal of Human Biology 12: 151-166.
Fausto-Sterling, Anne (2000) “The Five Sexes, Revisited” The Sciences (July/August) pp. 18-23.
Fausto-Sterling, Anne (1993) “The Five Sexes”. The Sciences (March/April) pp. 20-25.
Dreger, Alice D. 2002. “Intersex” FatherMag.com, July 23.
Migeon, Claude 2002. “46,XY Intersex Individuals: Phenotypic and Etiologic Classification, Knowledge of Condition, and Satisfaction with Knowledge in Adulthood“. Pediatrics 110 (3): e32.
Williams, Nina 2002. “The Imposition of Gender: Psychoanalytic Encounters with Genital Atypicality“. Psychoanalytic Psychology 19 (3):455-74.
Bloom, A. (2002) Normal, Random House.
Byne, William Scientific American: The Biological Evidence Challenged, eBook.
Chase, C. (2002) Affronting Reason. GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary. J. Nestle, C. Howell and R. Wilchins. Los Angeles, Alyson Books.
Dreger, Alice (1998) Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex. Harvard University Press.
Dreger, Alice, ed. (1999) Intersex in the Age of Ethics. University Publishing Group.
Fausto-Sterling, Anne (2000) Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. Basic Books.
Feinberg, Leslie (1996) Transgender warriors: making history from Joan of Arc to RuPaul. Beacon Press.
Feinberg, Leslie (1998) Trans liberation : beyond pink or blue. Beacon Press.
Goodman, A.; Heath, D.; Lindee, M.S. eds. (2003) Genetic Nature/Culture: Anthropology and Science beyond the Two-Culture Divide. University of California Press.
Hausman, Bernice (1995) Changing sex: transsexualism, technology, and the idea of gender. Duke University Press.
Herdt, Gilbert ed. (1994) Third Sex, Third Gender. Zone Books.
Karkazis, Katrina (2008) Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience. Duke University Press
Kessler, Suzanne (1998) Lessons from the Intersexed, Rutgers University Press.
Laumann, Edward O. et al (1994) The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. University of Chicago Press.
Meyerotwitz, Joanne. (2002) How sex changed: a history of transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press
Oosterhuis, Harry (2000) Stepchildren of Nature: Krafft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of Sexual Identity. University of Chicago Press
Preves, Sharon (2003) Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self, Rutgers University Press.
Reis, Elizabeth (2009) Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex. Johns Hopkins University Press
Stein, Edward (1999) The mismeasure of desire: the science, theory and ethics of sexual orientation. Oxford University Press.
Sytsma, Sharon, ed. (2006) Ethics and Intersex. Springer.
Valentine, David (2007) Imagining Transgender: an ethnography of a category. Duke University Press
Williams, S.; L. Birke, G. Bendelow, eds. (2003) Debating Biology, Routledge.
The Intersex Society of North America. This is a rich resource of bibliographies, personal stories and links to other web sites, which concern sexuality.
The Archive for Sexology. This site has wonderful historical and contemporary resources concerning the academic study of human sexuality.
The International Journal of Transgenderism carries academic articles on transgender theory and practice.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a national organization for those who support their gay friends and families. They are a good starting point for the friends and family of someone who has just come out as a gay or lesbian.
The Advocate is a biweekly magazine for gays and lesbians. It is a source for national and international news about gay and lesbian life and politics.