Sex Categorization in Medical Contexts: A Cautionary Tale

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 28 (3):243-280 (2018)
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Abstract

[We] perform the cultural work of fitting individuals into categories; yet the active labor that goes into making sex appear dichotomous is generally invisible to the broader society, or at least rarely remarked upon.Wording matters. It doesn’t just affect a person’s willingness to check the box and be counted—it also highlights the existence of those identities. Perhaps if we weren’t so regularly confronted with a simple choice—“Are you male or female?”—our thinking about gender wouldn’t be so binary.To be sure, there are truths about bodies.Yet such truths can be expressed without the notion of sex.Contrary to what many people believe, the classificatory system by which sexes are neatly divided into the two...

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Lauren Freeman
University of Louisville

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