Merging critical theory, autobiography, and sexological archival research, Queer Embodiment provides insight into what it means to have a legible body in the West. Hil Malatino explores how intersexuality became an anomalous embodiment assumed to require correction and how contesting this pathologization can promote medical reform and human rights for intersex and trans people.
Malatino traces both institutional and interpersonal failures to dignify non-sexually dimorphic bodies and examines how the ontology of gender difference developed by modern sexologists conflicts with embodied experience. Malatino comprehensively shows how gender-normalizing practices begin at the clinic but are amplified thereafter through mechanisms of institutional exclusion and through Eurocentric culture’s cis-centric and bio-normative notions of sexuality, reproductive capacity, romantic partnership, and kinship.
Combining personal accounts with archival evidence, Queer Embodiment presents intersexuality as the conceptual center of queerness, the figure through which nonnormative genders and desires are and have been historically understood. We must reconsider the medical, scientific, and philosophical discourse on intersexuality underlying contemporary understandings of sexed selfhood in order to understand gender anew as a process of becoming that exceeds restrictive binary logic.
Hil Malatino is an assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Pennsylvania State University and core faculty in the Rock Ethics Institute.