Intersex Embodiment: Legal Frameworks Beyond Identity and Disorder

Fae Garland, Mitchell Travis

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book outlines the ways in which institutions such as law and medicine play a key role in framing understandings of intersex embodiment. Embodiment takes place at the intersection of materiality, discourse and institutions.The dominant conceptualisations of intersex are outlined and empirical data is used to explore their effect on the lives of intersex people. Specifically, the book examines medicine’s framing of intersex embodiment as a ‘disorder’, and law’s framing of intersex as embodiment as ‘non-binary’ and ‘LGBT’ in Germany and Australia respectively. This analysis reveals that medical framings of intersex embodiment are paradigmatic and that non-binary and LGBT conceptualisations do little to challenge the dominance of the disorder narrative. Maltese legislation that seeks to challenge medical authority over intersex embodiment is then examined. The analysis identifies important symbolic progress but also considers shortfalls in implementation. This prompts reflection on the nature of law’s relationship with social change and its ongoing and continuous nature. Finally, psychosocial care is examined as a framing device that has the potential to challenge the paradigmatic medical conception of intersex embodiment and offer an account more grounded in notions of bodily integrity. The book concludes by offering a pluralistic account of intersex embodiment that acknowledges its production through materiality, institutions and cultural knowledge which are contingent to particular times, places, contexts and regulatory frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherBristol University Press
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Intersex
  • Embodiment
  • Disorder
  • LGBT
  • Non-Binary
  • Psychosocial
  • Framing


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