From Brain Organization Theory to Phenomenology
Authored by Nikki Sullivan, this chapter examines John Money’s claim that the brain is the site of the unification of “biological and social determinism,” where schemas of gender identification and complementation become locked in, and from whence they function as “templates in the governance of sex dimorphic behavior.” In order to substantiate this view of dimorphic brain schemas, and particularly the role of prenatal hormones in their development, Money turns to sociobiological accounts of animal sex. Drawing on the work of feminist science studies scholars such as Helen Longino, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Marianne Van Den Wijngaard, and Rebecca Jordan-Young, this chapter critically interrogates the role and function of brain organization theory, studies of “animal sex,” and the relation between them in Money’s articulation(s) of transsexualism. It focuses primarily on an article entitled “Heterosexual vs Homosexual Attitudes: Male Partners’ Perception of the Feminine Image of Male Transsexuals” (1970), in which Money makes a series of troubling heteronormative claims about trans women, which thoroughly undermine what some might see as Money’s championing of trans bodies and practices. The chapter also offers a phenomenological account of bodily-being-in-the-world as a counter to the limits affected by Money’s turn to brain organization theory.
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