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Raz Michal

PhD student in Sociology, EHESS

Contact: michal.raz(a)ehess.fr


Dissertation title: The genealogy of intersex: Medical and family experiences of atypical sex in France since the postwar era

Under the supervision of Ilana Löwy

This dissertation aims to grasp, on the one hand, the evolution of medical practices in France with regard to intersex individuals, and to understand, on the other hand, how this condition is experienced by these individuals and their families. The care protocols recommend assigning a gender at birth and performing the necessary medical operations to match the external genitalia with the selected “education gender.” The dilemma regarding medical surgery on intersex persons at birth has now been compounded by another in the prenatal stage. The question of assigning a gender has thus shifted to the question of prevention (prenatal treatment and medical terminations of pregnancy), a shift that is not only a shift in time, because it opens up new policy and bioethical questioning.

How have these questions evolved over time, since the Johns Hopkins protocol was established in the 1950s through to today? This was a founding protocol in that it led to the first use of the term “gender” and thus to its dissociation from so-called biological sex. How and by whom was this protocol imported into France and how was it applied and interpreted by doctors?

Based on archives and interviews, I examine the past and current stakes cutting across the medical field: What effects are induced by the changes in medical-surgical technologies on the diagnosis and treatment of these individuals?

The privileged object of this work is the history of congenital adrenal hyperplasia, both from the point of view of evolutions in knowledge and practices, as from that of the individuals who experience it and their parents. I examine how parents travel the medical processes and how the diagnosis affects their daily life.

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