The epicene body

Epicene syn. hermaphrodite, intersex, gynandromorph, androgyne def. having the characteristics of both sexes

“When you came home,” Cathleen Sullivan told Chase about her return from the hospital after surgery, “there seemed to be no effect at all. Oh, yes, wait a minute. Yes, there was one thing. You stopped speaking. I guess you didn’t speak for about six months.”

Discourse on intersex (the preferred modern term) conditions (there are a number of them, it’s complicated) has entered the mainstream, as evidenced by the 2006 New York Times article What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl? from which I extracted the above quote. Apparently, intersex births are roughly as common as cystic fibrosis. The issue raises profound questions (about body image, sense of self, parental control, society’s attitude to the “abnormal”, medical ethics, to name a few) as I guess do many other congenital “abnormalities”.

Here is another quote from the NYT article spoken by an intersex person: “Now I think being intersex is pretty weird but kind of sweet”. I like that a lot. I know exactly what it means, because it’s just the way I think about myself, a healthy and humane outlook in my opinion.

To help us ponder these questions from another angle, the angle of poetry, here is a poem by Andy Jackson, All is not as it seems from his latest book Among the regulars.


About middleeuropeanmelancholy

64 year old Australian born male. Into travel, poetry, philosophy, music, popular physics, mathematics (especially topology)...
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