Hermaphrodites with Attitude

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Hermaphrodites with Attitude
EditorCheryl Chase
CategoriesIntersex human rights, reproductive and sexual health
PublisherIntersex Society of North America
First issue1994
Final issue2005
CountryUnited States

Hermaphrodites with Attitude was a newsletter edited by Cheryl Chase and published by the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) between 1994 and 2005.[1] The full archives are available online. In 2008, ISNA transferred its remaining funds, assets, and copyrights to Accord Alliance and then closed.


Hermaphrodites with Attitude was published on thirteen occasions over an eleven-year period. The first issue appeared in Winter 1994, comprising 6 pages of articles, analysis and case studies, including articles by people with lived experience, activists, physicians, and academics. It was distributed to subscribers in five countries and 14 States of the United States.[2]

The newsletter provided a voice for intersex activists for the first time, becoming a resource for intersex people and academics.[3][4] The title of the newsletter appears in the title of multiple articles describing the intersex movement,[5][6][7] and was also displayed on banners at the first public demonstration by intersex people and allies, outside a pediatric conference in Boston, on October 26, 1996.[8][9]

In the early part of the 21st-century, Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) took on staff for the first time and began to engage closely with the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society, establishing a North American Task Force on Intersex.[10] These developments were stated in the newsletter's first issue of the 21st-century, in February 2001, which also marked a change in name to "ISNA News".[10]

Shifting attitudes[edit]

This shift in name of the newsletter reflected a significant shift in the goals of ISNA. Initially, Emi Koyama states that "not only did intersex activists appropriate the medical label "intersex" as part of their identities, they also liberally used the word "hermaphrodite", which is now considered offensive, for example by naming the newsletter of Intersex Society of North America "Hermaphrodites With Attitude" and demonstrating under that name." Koyama argues that the intersex movement could not succeed with that label in addressing peer support needs, while identity politics drew in a different set of goals and interests.[11] ISNA goals shifted to eradicate nomenclature based on hermaphroditism that was stated to be stigmatizing[12] to intersex individuals, as well as potentially panic-inducing to parents of intersex children.

The suggested solution put forth by ISNA was to restructure the system of intersex taxonomy and nomenclature to not include the words 'hermaphrodite', 'hermaphroditism', 'sex reversal', or other similar terms.[13] This "standard division of many intersex types into true hermaphroditism, male pseudohermaphroditism, and female pseudohermaphroditism" was described by ISNA and its advocates as confusing and clinically problematic,[13] and a replacement term, disorders of sex development was proposed by Alice Dreger, Cheryl Chase and others in 2005.[14]

ISNA itself folded in 2008, following publication of a clinical paper and new clinical standards that adopted the term disorders of sex development to replace not only hermaphroditism and associated terms, but also the term intersex, in medical settings. ISNA gave a statement saying that "at present, the new standard of care exists as little more than ideals on paper, thus falling short of its aim[s]" to fulfill its goals.[15] The ISNA decided its best course of action was to "support a new organization with a mission to promote integrated, comprehensive approaches to care that enhance the overall health and well-being of persons [who are intersex] and their families." The ISNA transferred all of its remaining funds, assets, and copyrights to Accord Alliance and then closed.

ISNA has been survived or succeeded by several intersex civil society organizations, including the AIS Support Group USA (now called AISDSD),[16] the Intersex Initiative,[17] Bodies Like Ours,[17] Organisation Intersex International,[17] (now the Intersex Campaign for Equality) and Advocates for Informed Choice (now interACT).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hermaphrodites with Attitude". Intersex Society of North America. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Hermaphrodites with Attitude" (PDF). Hermaphrodites with Attitude. 1 (1). 1994.
  3. ^ Valocchi, Stephen; Corber, Robert J. (2003). Queer studies : an interdisciplinary reader. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0631229167.
  4. ^ Dreger, Alice Domurat (1999). Intersex in the age of ethics. Hagerstown, MD.: Univ. Publ. Group. ISBN 1555721001.
  5. ^ Chase, Cheryl (1998). "Hermaphrodites with Attitude: Mapping the Emergence of Intersex Political Activism". GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. 4 (2): 189–211. doi:10.1215/10642684-4-2-189.
  6. ^ Preves, Sharon (August 16, 2003). "Hermaphrodites With Attitude: The Intersex Patients' Rights Movement and Clinical Reform". American Sociological Association.
  7. ^ Valentine, David; Wilchins, Riki Anne (1997). "One Percent on the Burn Chart: Gender, Genitals, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude". Social Text (52/53): 215–222. doi:10.2307/466740. JSTOR 466740.
  8. ^ Beck, Max. "Hermaphrodites with Attitude Take to the Streets". Intersex Society of North America.
  9. ^ "Intersex Awakening". Chrysalis, the Journal of Transgressive Gender Identities. 2 (5). 1997.
  10. ^ a b "ISNA News" (PDF). ISNA News. February 2001.
  11. ^ Koyama, Emi (February 2006). "From "Intersex" to "DSD": Toward a Queer Disability Politics of Gender". University of Vermont. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Is a person who is intersex a hermaphrodite?". Intersex Society of North America. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  13. ^ a b "Getting Rid of "Hermaphroditism" Once and For All". Intersex Society of North America. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  14. ^ Dreger, AD; Chase, C; Sousa, A; Gruppuso, PA; Frader, J (August 2005). "Changing the nomenclature/taxonomy for intersex: a scientific and clinical rationale". Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism. 18 (8): 729–33. doi:10.1515/jpem.2005.18.8.729. PMID 16200837. S2CID 39459050.
  15. ^ "Dear ISNA Friends and Supporters". Intersex Society of North America. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  16. ^ "A Brief History". AISDSD. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  17. ^ a b c Karkazis, Katrina (2008). Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience. Duke University Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-8223-4318-9.

External links[edit]