« The Five Sexes | Main | Ranges of Medically Acceptable Infant Clitoral and Penile Lengths »

Moving Beyond Five Sexes

A few years later, in response to Suzanne J. Kessler's critique of the "five sexes" Anne Fausto-Sterling wrote another essay, titled "The Five Sexes, Revisited".

Kessler argues:

The limitation with Fausto-Sterling's proposal is that...[it] still gives genitals...primary signifying status and ignores the fact that in the everyday world gender attributions are made without access to genital inspection....What has primacy in everyday life is the gender that is performed, regardless of the flesh's configuration under the clothes. (13)

Fausto-Sterling responds:

"I now agree with Kessler's assessment. It would be better for intersexuals and their supporters to turn everyone's focus away from genitals. Instead, as she suggests, one should acknowledge that people come in an even wider assortment of sexual identities and characteristics than mere genitals can distinguish." (13)