ABC’s First Tuesday Book Club: Alice Pung calls central character in “Middlesex” transgendered

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Jeffrey Eugenides’ book Middlesex uses as his central character a person with 5 alpha reductase, one of the many physical differences that can lead to intersex. It’s an award-winning and popular read, even though it contains some inaccuracies about intersex people, misrepresenting 5 alpha reductase as a difference that inevitably leads to male-like physicality and heterosexual outcomes. It does, at least, attempt to have, as a central theme, a person coping with intersex and people’s perceptions of that.

Sadly, if the First Tuesday Book Club hosted by Jennifer Byrne and seen on Australian ABC television is anything to go by, intelligent individuals still miss the point.

Here the first reviewer Alice Pung immediately identifies Calliope as transgendered.

The misapprehension of Alice Pung is unaddressed throughout the review so that in the end the reviewers are talking about the other book inside Middlesex, the Clayton’s one, that is middle sex without the intersex.


OII Australia received a very kind letter of apology from Alice Pung – many thanks!

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