As a gender variant visual artist I access ‘technologies of gender’ in order to amplify rather than erase the hermaphroditic traces of my body. I name myself. A gender abolitionist. A part time gender terrorist. An intentional mutation and intersex by design, (as opposed to diagnosis), in order to distinguish my journey from the thousands of intersex individuals who have had their ‘ambiguous’ bodies mutilated and disfigured in a misguided attempt at ‘normalisation’. I believe in crossing the line as many times as it takes to build a bridge we can all walk across(De LaGrace Volcano).
In the literary field, Sade was probably the first to explore the androgyny transgressive force to shatter the social demarcation in sexual behaviour. In the convent orgies the women are self-sufficient for pleasuring themselves without male intervention, not only by the use of dildos, but also by the big size of some clitoris, like Volmar’s, who sodomizes Juliette as if it was a penis.
In the antipodes of the Marquis libertine language we find another intersexual lust story hatching inside convent walls, but written in the first person by someone who suffered the stigma of undefined anatomy. Herculine Barbin’s memoirs were rescued by Michel Foucault, who in the autobiography of this hermaphrodite preface he asks: Do we truly need a real sex? Modern Western societies have stubbornly made play this issue of real sex in an order of things where is only conceivable the bodies reality and the pleasure intensity.
Herculine lived as a girl until her frequent love affairs with colleagues from the boarding school took doctors and priests to re-examine her body and soul. Her genital anomaly and the scandal that her inclinations arose in the environment took their mentors to separate her from her lover. All of a sudden she was forced to change the legal status, behaviour and life. She could not bear it and committed suicide shortly after finishing her memoirs.
Barbin lived in Victorian era, a period when medicine and morality team with each other in their crusade against the non-standardised: to identify, classify, catalogue … are instruments of biopower, following Foucault’s terminology. In a society that relegates sexuality to the realm of procreation, the idea of sexes mixing in one body arouses concern as the ghosts of unspeakable vices could be seen behind it. Intersex swells the ranks of perversions to be monitored and punished.
It was not until the seventies of the last century that initiatives hammering the exclusivity of binary gender took strength. Judith Butler gave theoretical support to queer subject, one that no longer identifies with the essentialist feminism or the claim of gays and lesbians to be recognized within the traditional patriarchal system.
Dissident feminists, transgender, sex workers … go out on the streets and incorporate in their vindications the abusive language with which they are insulted, transforming the insult into a weapon.
Gender is a political construction, said Butler, based on the repetition of codes of conduct. Transgender movements and postporn practices have led these reflections to the sexual arena parodying heterosexual roles as naturalized parameters, moving eroticism toward zones not prescribed as erogenous, diluting closed identities.
Beatriz Preciado (now Paul B. Preciado) wrote Testo Yonqui under the influence of self-administered testosterone to discredit the social identification of this hormone with the male libido. This essay, in which the author analyzes the way the pharmaceutical industry contributes to emphasize gender stereotypes (e.g., the contraceptive pill feminizes the body), also takes the form of the diary of a woman who is feeling her sexuality exploding in multiple directions as the result of hormone treatment, transcending the limitations of genre.
The androgynous figure remains as an ideal of completeness in a world where we are forced to take sides, with the risk of being eliminated if we cross the line. Surgical reconstruction of intersex infants, psychiatric test that must be passed to gender change, architectural barriers to transsexual people … it seems that the normalized society will be binary or will not be at all.
Go to first chapter of this monograph: Androginy and derivatives