Thursday, September 28, 2006


By Curtis Hinkle, OII

September 28, 2006

Today Alice Dreger posted a page in her website that at first reads as a claim that she is NOT resigning from the DSD Consortium:

“Ooo, I have something in common with Angelina Jolie! We’re both the subject of wild rumors on the internet!”

“The rumors about me say I resigned from the DSD Consortium and that I resigned over a shift in language.”

Dreger goes on to elaborate that she doesn’t really support the term “disorders of sex development” as a replacement for “intersex”.

“Since the publication of the handbooks, a number of intersex adults, including a number of my intersex friends and colleagues, have expressed doubt and sometimes serious displeasure at the term DSDs. They feel it medicalizes and pathologizes them, and I understand what they’re talking about. In fact, I’ve noticed that when I talk to specialist pediatricians and stressed-out parents of affected young children, I say “DSDs,” and when I talk to almost anyone else, I say “intersex.” I’m personally more comfortable with “intersex.””

However, we have recently exposed Dreger in her own words on the record as having been one of the principal instigators of and staunch promoters of the use of that terminology. There’s just no getting away from it Alice, you really did push this terminology onto intersex people, and with considerable determination:

Alice Dreger: Disorders of Sex Development:

In today’s denial page, Dreger goes on to say:

“As a historian, I have to wonder whether a lot of the intense discussions among intersex adults is happening because it is something they can do. Most politically-conscious intersex adults want to see change happen in medicine and society, but they don’t have the resources to do major social change or medical reform work. But there are things they can do instead of ripping into each other over language.”

Here we see Dreger claiming special elite status as a “historian” to paternalistically dismiss intersex people as being powerless to speak for themselves and effect social change, and to accuse intersex people of “ripping into each other over language”.

However, those are obviously distorted, disingenuous, self-serving claims:

Intersex people are NOT ripping into each other over language. We are ripping into Dreger over HER use of language. And we appear to be doing it quite effectively, thank you!

Furthermore, independent of Dreger’s claim, intersex people DO have the power to speak for themselves and press for social change and reform. And we sure don’t need interlopers like Dreger putting us down as being unable to defend ourselves, and then seizing centerstage and speaking for us!

Later in her denial page, Dreger pleads to be let off the hook, saying “Oh, come on people, who cares?”, as if it doesn’t matter what the truth really is.

“All right, you’ve heard what I think about the terms. So what’s the truth about me? Oh, come on people, who cares? Please don’t waste your time on me!”

To intersex people, that statement is an incredible slap in the face – by someone who has pathologized us and now seeks an escape from responsibility, hoping that nobody really “cares”.

In her conclusion, Dreger finally reverses the impression created at the beginning of the page, and admits that she resigned from the DSD Consortium:

“Here’s what happened: Yes, I resigned from the DSD Consortium. No, it had nothing to do with the language or any other political or philosophical issue in the intersex rights movement. I continue to fully support the handbooks.”

Of course she claims it had nothing to do with the huge backlash that’s developed against the DSD terminology and against her over-promotion of the use of that terminology.

Instead she says:

“I resigned for personal reasons.”

Alice Dreger has claimed in many places that “disorders of sex development” is the preferred terminology for intersex people – but now claims that she is “uncomfortable” with the DSD terminology. Thus she stands exposed as duplicitous.

We suggest that Dreger is being duplicitous about her resignation too. It seems that she is in denial, unable to take the heat from the backlash against DSD - and THAT has everything to do with “language”.

Other related links on the DSD controversy:

Saturday, August 26, 2006
Three intersex activists defend children against pejorative terminology
Monday, September 11, 2006
DSD - Is there really a consensus?
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Handbook for Parents is transphobic and homophobic
Friday, September 22, 2006
DSD Consortium: Homophobia and transphobia exposed
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Alice Dreger: Disorders of Sex Development
Thursday, September 28, 2006
DSD - Silencing Intersex Voices – International support letters:
Alice Dreger: DSD - Silencing intersex voices - United Kingdom
Alice Dreger: DSD - Silencing intersex voices - Canada
Alice Dreger: DSD - Silencing intersex voices - France
Alice Dreger: DSD - Silencing intersex voices - Switzerland

For more articles on OII's website

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