Intersex bodies: the nuances between male and female : gender construction and the cost of challenging sexual binarism in Italy

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Merlaratti, Sara
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How is gender socially constructed? Is it a phenomenon devoid of violence? In a world, like the Western one, where sex is conceived in only two categories, how are people with Intersex characteristics treated? Invisibility, pathologisation and medicalization characterise Italian legislation and the medical practices of medical personnel. Is it legitimate to intervene surgically and/or pharmacologically on the bodies of people who cannot oppose and self-determine themselves? This work aims to demonstrate that the Intersex population is the victim of several violations of their human rights. Starting from a sociological and anthropological investigation, thanks to the studies of J. Butler, A. Fausto-Sterling, J. Boddy and others, some ways of constructing the concept of gender will be analysed, demonstrating its violent nature. The phenomenon of the so-called 'female genital mutilation', of the clitoridectomies practiced in the Victorian era and the growing trend of genital cosmetic surgeries will be presented as examples. All these practices are infused with socio-cultural dictates about gender, heteronormativity, and sexual binarism. It is a critique of biological determinism and sexual binarism: by legitimising only heterosexuality and the masculine and feminine, this reading of reality disqualifies as unnatural or abject those who do not fit into this classification. Relating to otherness as if it preexisted classification, in many Western countries we still intervene on the bodies of Intersex people with the aim of "normalising" them. The second part of this research intends to focus on the Italian context, demonstrating that in Italian hospitals they continue to perform unnecessary surgery on intersex newborns, violating several of their human rights. This occurs due to the faultiness of the Italian legislation, the indifference towards foreign legislative developments, a pathologizing "rhetoric of treatment" and the lack of transparency of the medical personnel. Finally, some legislative solutions will be proposed, some of which have already been adopted by other countries.
Second semester University: University of Galway
gender identity, intersexuality, Italy, human rights violations