Representation of intersex in news media: the case of Kathleen Worrall

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In 2010 the New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court imprisoned Kathleen Worrall for the murder of her sister Susan Worrall. Worrall pleaded guilty to manslaughter ‘by reason of … a mood disorder associated with her non-compliance with medication prescribed for the treatment of her underlying medical condition, namely congenital adrenal hyperplasia’ (R v Worrall [2010] NSWSC 593). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is one of five significant configurations of the body which come under the broad rubric of ‘intersex’. Intersex is a contemporary term to refer to what is historically known as hermaphroditism. To date no sufficient analysis has been undertaken of the representation of intersex in the media, largely because the term intersex fails to make its mark in the media. To address this imbalance this paper analyses the representation of this case in several of the leading Australian media outlets. What is evidenced is that intersex is often omitted in preference for euphemistic alternatives. Thereby, it is argued that media coverage mirrors the cornerstone of the medicalisation of intersex; that is, the institutionalisation of silence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-277
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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