Toward an ethics of curiosity? The role of cinema in medical education on variations of sexual development


Eva De Clercq, Maddalena Favaretto, Marco Luceri

Objective: Although it is not uncommon to be born with an intersex condition or difference of sexual development (DSD), it is a topic which is still relatively unknown. The aim of the present paper is to explore the extent to which fiction movies on DSD/intersex can be used to help medical students to gain more experiential knowledge, enhance their empathic abilities, and facilitate self-reflection on this issue. Methods: A systematic film review was conducted to identify and critically review relevant fiction movies on intersex or DSD. For this purpose, an online database research was performed in the internet movie database. Results: Recent films refrain from conveying a stereotypical image of intersex persons (e.g., freaks, villains, criminals, and femme fatale) but tend to focus on young adults’ journey to self-discovery. Still, the many close-ups of the body of the character with DSD might be interpreted as a kind morbid curiosity for a body that is considered “different”. Conclusions: Although in some ways reductive, guided discussions on coming-to-age stories can be used in the medical curriculum to offer an insight in the lived experiences of DSD and to allow future healthcare professionals to turn the medical gaze upon themselves.