Adult genital surgery for intersex: a solution to what problem?

Research paper by Mary E ME Boyle, Susan S Smith, Lih-Mei LM Liao

Indexed on: 15 Jul '05Published on: 15 Jul '05Published in: Journal of health psychology


The desirability of routine genital surgery for infants with ambiguous genitalia is increasingly debated. But there is less discussion about intersex adults who choose genital surgery, despite evidence suggesting that the results are often unsatisfactory. This study reports on how six women with intersex conditions decided to have feminizing genital surgery and how they evaluated the outcomes. The initial analysis highlighted a chronological transition from surgery as nondilemmatic to surgery as a serious dilemma; a version of Foucauldian discourse analysis was then used to place the women's experiences in a cultural context. The implications for psychological involvement in services for women with intersex conditions are discussed.