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DSD Debates: Social Movement Organizations’ Framing Disputes Surrounding the Term ‘Disorders of Sex Development’

Robert J. Davidson

Introduction

In the last 15 years discussions around ‘intersex’ have increasingly moved beyond the medical/biological realm and taken growing prominence in gender studies, within social movements, and in the socio-cultural realm. This shift was highly promoted by social movement organizations (SMOs) that have arisen to address various issues related to

intersex and was also encouraged by some academics humanities. Social movement research is only beginning social movement terms (Turner, 1999; Preves, 2005; regarding social movements in the last two decades

in the social sciences and the to address intersex advocacy in Greenberg, 2006). Research has paid increasing attention,

however, to discourse (Steinberg, 1998) and how social institutions and use frames (Snow & Benford, 2000) to

movements engage with cultural reshape cultural codes (Melucci,

1985, 1996). reshaping of

This article traces the framing processes executed in a debate a code among three groups of the intersex social movement in

over the order to

understand how the groups engage with the medical discourse on intersex. A discourse on intersex is traced based on a Foucauldian perspective. A textual analysis of the websites of three intersex SMOs is then presented to examine the frame disputes between them over the proposed terminology ‘Disorders

medical framing internal of Sex

Development,’

or

‘DSD’.

The

SMOs

included

are

America/Accord Alliance (ISNA/Accord)1, Organization

Androgen

Insensitivity

Support

Group

UK

(AISSGUK).

the Intersex Society of North Intersex International (OII), and A schema of how each SMO

1 The combination ‘ISNA/Accord’ is used throughout the article to refer to the activities of both of these groups. ISNA was closed in 2008 and replaced by Accord Alliance. Many materials now available on the Accord Alliance site were originally developed when the group was still ISNA. The combined ‘ISNA/Accord’ term acknowledges that the groups are separate and yet related.

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