The Spectrum of Sex


The Spectrum of Sex: The Science of Male, Female, and Intersex (Jessica Kingsley Publishers – Hachette Book Group) is a transformative guide that completely breaks down our current understanding of sex and gender diversity. We challenge the myth that sex and gender are exclusively binary by examining the inherent scientific diversity of biological sex. We also explore the innate relationship between sex and gender identity, and the acknowledgement of sex and gender diversity within various ancient and current societies. The Spectrum of Sex provides personal stories by intersex and non-binary community members, including one from a member of the Navajo Nation who was born with an intersex variance that resulted in him being subsequently ostracized from the tribe based on prejudices imprinted by the colonizers of Native/Indigenous peoples. The work, in my biased opinion, is powerful and does much to promote social justice for all.

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 is seminal for understanding sex and gender variance, akin to the breakthroughs Our Bodies Ourselves made by simply providing comprehensive information about women’s bodies. It is one of the few books that brings together biological science and gender studies content, and is a “timely” and “important” resource in this era of confusion and social erasure. The book has been written, keeping students enrolled in general biology, gender studies and sex studies courses, in mind. The book would also be beneficial for educators, healthcare providers, and frankly anyone with a general interest in the subject.


Georgiann Davis
Author of Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis and Associate Professor of Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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.

Joan Roughgarden
Professor of Biology (Emerita) at Stanford University and author of Evolution’s Rainbow, Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People (University of California Press, 2004)

The Spectrum of Sex uniquely presents a timely and important overview of sex/gender diversity in humans that includes an extensive examination of intersex. Many are surprised to learn that intersex persons are more common than trans and less common than gays. The book reviews the biology underlying intersex expression and features brief essays from intersex and non-binary persons, offering an engaging forum for these communities to speak forth with their own voice

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

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.

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

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.