Metamorfoses van sekse. Hermafroditisme en de verschijning van een 'sekse van het zelf' in operatieve praktijken vanaf het einde van de negentiende eeuw.


  • Geertje Mak


According to Stefan Hirschauer, during the treatment process, transsexualism metamorphoses from a social conflict between a person and society about his or her proper enactment of sex, to a conflict between a self and a body. Surgery operates as a way of swearing one’s (initial inappropriate) sex. In this article, this metamorphosis is analysed historically in cases of hermaphroditism. Until about 1900 doubting sex mainly had affected the hermaphrodite as a person: as someone inscribed in society through a name, an outer (physical) appearance, a role, and a civil status. The trouble was located in the relation between the person and society, not in the relation between a body and a self. With the introduction of surgery and anaesthesia from about 1900 physical sex could be sharply distinguished from the person. Mo- reover, plastic surgery on genitals evoked a quickly increasing demand of hermaphrodites to operate on their sex upon their wish. The emerging frictions between an objectified physical sex on the one hand and the person or the wish of the hermaphrodite on the other, led physicians to treat the person, his or her consciousness, feelings, emotions and sexual inclinations as a separate entity. The sex of self became something doctors started to take care of and gain competence over.