Intersex characters in fiction
Intersex people are born with sex characteristics, such as genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns, "that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies". Literary descriptions may use older or different language for intersex traits, including describing intersex people as hermaphrodites, neither wholly male or female, or a combination of male and female.
Intersex characters and tropes
Intersex people have been portrayed in literature, television and film as monsters, murderers and medical dilemmas. Characters in award-winning literature include Cal Stephanides in the novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and Max Walker in the novel Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin.
Morgan Holmes, Canadian sociologist and a former activist with the (now defunct) Intersex Society of North America, comments on constructions of intersex people as monsters or ciphers for discussions about sex and gender. Holmes describes her weariness "of writers who had contacted me for a number of years during my intersex-activist days, trying to determine if their proposed ‘hermaphrodites’ could do things like impregnate or have sex with themselves", and how depictions of intersex people are "stalled", reifying "the proper place of traditional visions and modes of masculinity in opposition to femininity" or "beyond and outside the realm of gender altogether"; the character of Annabel/Wayne, in the Canadian novel Annabel by Kathleen Winter, provides an example of monstrous auto-impregnation.
An intersex murderer plot twist trope has been repeated in the TV programs Nip/Tuck (Quentin Costa), Passions (Vincent Clarkson) and Janet King. This has been criticised as hackneyed and offensive, characterizing intersex people as deceitful.
Examples of the medical dilemmas trope include the 2010 Childrens Hospital episode Show Me on Montana, the 2012 Emily Owens, M.D. episode Emily and... the Question of Faith, a 2009 episode of House entitled, The Softer Side, and Masters of Sex episode 3 in season 2, Fight.
The MTV series Faking It marked the first intersex series regular in a TV show, Lauren Cooper, and also the first intersex character played by an intersex person, Raven. MTV worked with intersex civil society organization interACT on Faking It; the program was praised for creating a groundbreaking character. A Freaks and Geeks story has also been credited as commendable. In film, the character Rebeca Duarte in the movie Both was created by an intersex woman, Lisett Barcellos.
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- Keral, a member of an alien species in The World Wreckers science fiction novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
- Berg Katse, leader of the evil organisation Galactor in the 1972 anime Science Ninja Team Gatchaman.
- Alex Kraken, lead character in the Argentinian movie XXY.
- Kainé, a companion in the 2010 game NieR
- Peta, character revealed as intersex in the final episode of the second series of Janet King.
- Richard Plantagenet, later Richard III of England, in the manga Requiem of the Rose King, an adaptation of Richard III. Portrayed as intersex instead of hunchbacked as the character is normally depicted in the original play.
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- Cal (or Callie) Stephanides in the novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
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- Ystina, the Shining Knight, revealed as DC Comics's first intersex character in Demon Knights #14.
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- Tintomara, character in classic Swedish novel Drottningens juvelsmycke (The Queen's Tiara) by Carl Jonas Love Almquist. The book was also adapted for film in 1970.
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