Time matters for intersex bodies: Between socio-medical time and somatic time

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This article focuses on the dynamic relationships between time and intersex bodies that exist, on the one hand, in medical policy on intersex bodies and, on the other, in intersex people's subjective experiences. Time, from a sociological perspective, is a biosocial agent that establishes diagnostic practices, regulations, and treatment policy regarding intersex bodies. The systematic construction of timeframes by biomedical professionals aims to rapidly diagnose and treat intersex patients and is deeply rooted in the “dimorphic soma-gender order” (DMSGO), the imagined unified relationship of female bodies to femininity and male bodies to masculinity. From a socio-phenomenological perspective, I describe the concept of somatic time, which involves the relationship between time and the soma, the body's own particular clock and rhythms, according to which it grows, changes, and develops, and the body as a time capsule that stores experiences. I will illustrate the somatic time of intersex people and their subjective embodied experiences of the soma-gender relationship, and explore how their somatic time challenges biomedical timeframes. This qualitative study is based on narrative interviews with biomedical professionals, parents of intersex children, and intersex adults from Israel and Germany.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Dimorphic soma-gender order
  • Germany
  • Intersex bodies
  • Israel
  • Narrative
  • Socio-medical time
  • Somatic time


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