Harold Garfinkel’s s case study of “Agnes” is broadly understood as the locus classicus of sociological research about transgender peo- ple. Drawing on an. Agnes was a year old woman with an accidental penis appendage. Studied by anthropologist Harold Garfinkel and written about in a The paper was written by one Dr. Garfinkel and his experience treating a patient called Agnes, whom he first met in November of Agnes.

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The context garffinkel that was that the team was trying to persuade her to join a group of such people they were running as an alternative to providing SRS. Agnes wanted to get treatment for what she regarded as a very problematic condition.

The Ethics of Intersex: A s Ethnographic Study of a Girl Called Agnes | Growing Up in America

Agnes then dropped a massive bombshell. Soon, doctors at UCLA agree with this assessment, proclaiming that Agnes suffered from an extraordinarily rare she is, as far as I know, the only person to be so diagnosed intersex condition know as testicular feminization syndrome, whereby her testes spontaneously began producing estrogen at puberty.

Garfinkel and Agnes herself were using at the time to refer to cross-dressers. Bear in mind that much of the way in which this story is discussed will be reflecting on attitudes held widely on gender in the s and s.

Agnes Torres

For Agnes, it was not always a matter of deliberate lying or calculation. She refused to meet or be classified with any other transgender people or homosexuals. Agnes was out to get her surgery. Agnes did not set the rules and stage. With some time for healing and the use of a penis shaped mould, she was able to acclimatise her new genitals such that she was able to have vaginal sex. But then it seems the author has only partially transitioned.

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No universities in the UK allowed transsexual people on the premises, and sociology was no exception. Reposted from Shakesville with permission from both Blogger: Garfinkel does not confirm this diagnosis himself, but there are strong hints that he came to support it as well.

There were still great risks of discovery, and Agnes had to continue to pay particular attention to how women behave, and to take steps to keep her secrets.

She was referred to Dr. A medical account of these problems, included in a footnote, mentioned a failure of the new vagina to heal, the partial closure of the new canal, shrinkage of the breasts, and considerable changes in mood after the amputation of testes and the consequent hormone imbalance. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Her adult life was fraught with problems especially since she formed a close relationship to agned boyfriend ‘Bill’.

She argued that the surgical vagina confirmed reality, that surgery was seen as merely confirming her claim to being a real female.

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New post – enjoy! It was acceptable to repair ‘nature’, because there had been an error, although Agnes had to struggle with her family about whether a man-made [sic] vagina was ‘the real thing’ Post was not sent – check your email addresses! She was aware that she was managing what others were taking for granted but not just in the Goffman sense of management of impressions — there were definite elements of unknown consequences and goals, risks, the absence of clear rules, and thus a necessary unremitting improvisation, and a constant requirement to explain herself.


Garfinoel was tall, slim, with a very female shape. I do think though that these days there are unnecessary divisions between people that need not be there.

No one should judge her. After the operation, Agnes still fights to conceal her past. We are in sore need of better terms.

Agnes fully accepted these conventional views, which obviously presented problems in explaining and justifying her own transfer. Please feel free to pick it garfonkel in your own delicious, juicy minds. Such passing involved lots of planning and stamina, and a considerable wit, especially in being able to offer ‘good reasons’ for difficulties, or to be able to avoid difficult situations.

How could or should we change the way society perceives? I was also concerned about his not thinking I had enough for him to work with.

The Ethics of Intersex: Bill the boyfriend was at the centre of much of Agnes’s activity: She developed no impersonal sense of the correctness of her own performance, afnes judged herself always against who agreed with her [managers again!