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The Spectrum of Sex

The Spectrum of Sex

The Science of Male, Female, and Intersex

Hida Viloria and Maria Nieto, PhD, illustrated by Alex Law

Quick Overview

Using a range of intersex variations, this innovative book introduces readers to the diversity of biological sex and its relationship to gender identity and the societal impact this has. Written by a leading intersex activist and an esteemed biological sciences scholar, it balances authority with inclusivity to create an important educational tool.
Details Price Qty
Paperback / softback
2020, 8.43in x 5.43in / 214mm x 138mm, 160pp
ISBN: 9781787752658
2020, ePUB
ISBN: 9781787752665
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This transformative guide completely breaks down our current understanding of biological sex and gender diversity.

Introducing readers to seven variations of human sex, commonly considered intersex, the book challenges the myth that sex and gender are exclusively binary and explores the inherent diversity of biological sex and its relationship to gender identity and expression, and the impact this has on society. Examining historical, linguistic and socio-cultural understandings of sex and gender, as well as genetic and scientific definitions, the book is an important resource for dismantling gender and sexuality-based discrimination and promoting understanding and inclusivity.

Co-written by one of the world's leading intersex activists and a highly respected scholar in biological sciences, and accompanied with detailed anatomical illustrations throughout, this pioneering text is the essential introduction to gender and sex diversity for gender studies, women's studies, biology and genetics courses, as well as professionals working with intersex and trans communities.


'It is said that no book can do it all, but The Spectrum of Sex does just that in terms of enlightening readers, of all backgrounds, about the complexities of sex and gender. The authors brilliantly explain complex anatomical and genetic jargon in accessible ways that will be eye-opening to everyone from high school students enrolled in a sex education course to doctors who wish to continue learning about the complexities of bodies in order to be better providers for their patients. The authors creatively incorporate first-person accounts of life from people from diverse sex and/or gender communities to remind readers that what they are learning has real world implications for all of us. Highly recommended.'
- Georgiann Davis, author of Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis and Associate Professor of Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas

'This extraordinary book needs to be required reading in all medical schools, by parents of intersex infants and everyone who cares about humanity. We are over due in our understanding of the beautiful spectrum of human diversity.'
- Cheryl Cohen Greene DHS, author of An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner


This book provides a fascinating explanation of the wide range of gender expressions and biological sex traits that are a natural part of the human experience.

The authors simplify very sophisticated scientific concepts and explain how the failure to acknowledge them marginalizes segments of our society. Their analysis makes clear that we must eliminate the binary classifications of gender and sex if we are to achieve equality for all.

- Michelle Waites, Civil Rights Advocate

'The Spectrum of Sex, gives readers a unique dual perspective on the science as well as the experiences of intersex individuals. It's unusual for a book to do such a thorough job of making science accessible while also telling a compelling story of human experience. Read this book to not only learn about the biology of intersex, but to also gain compassionate insights for the lived experiences of individuals with sexual variance.'
- Jamie Marantz, Science Educator, Former Chief Academic Officer, Envision Schools, Executive Director of the Alameda County Office of Education and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at North Monterey County Unified School District

'It's time to take off the blinders and recognize and embrace the reality of a third sex - intersex, a diverse biological spectrum between male and female. The Spectrum of Sex: The Science of Male, Female, and Intersex helps us to do just that by integrating science and social, cultural and linguistic analysis of binary and non-binary sex. The inclusion of personal stories makes for an engaging book that is accessible to the lay reader, yet also beneficial and appropriate for medical students and academic professionals alike. This book opened my eyes to the need for activism and education to achieve the right of intersex people to exist and be recognized in society.'
- Denice Lombard, Intersex Woman, Racial Justice and Anti-War Activist

'Rarely do we see the conversation between biology, identity, and sociology seamlessly melded together in the way that Viloria and Nieto have accomplished. The Spectrum of Sex provides a critical resource about the many aspects of intersex identity, and does so in a way that's engaging and accessible.'
- Liza Brusman, University of Colorado, Boulder

'This book combines the genetic mechanics found in a Genetics textbook with the usually not mentioned details leading to intersex variances. The biology is presented in a 'non-scary' and even entertaining manner, along with the social context, including the legal rights/status of intersex persons. The text also features vignettes from the lives of intersex persons, along with more extended biographical profiles. Overall, this is a welcome addition to the limited literature concerning being intersex.'
- Dr. Martina Giselle Ramirez, Professor of Biology & Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Loyola Marymount University, co-author Happier as a Woman: Transforming Friendships, Transforming Lives

'Spectrum of Sex uniquely presents an intersex perspective on sex/gender diversity. The book clearly reviews the biology underlying intersex expression and features brief essays from intersex persons themselves, offering a forum for the intersex community to speak forth with their own voice.'
- Joan Roughgarden Professor of Biology (Emerita) Stanford University Author of: Evolution’s Rainbow, Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People. 2004. University of California Press


By (author): Hida Viloria, Maria Nieto
Illustrated by: Alex Law