On Monday, December 14th, CBS aired a highly problematic episode of CSI: Miami, “Delko for the Defense,” in which they continued their trend of misrepresenting intersexuality as a motivation for homicidal attacks.
The show previously broadcast defamatory implications about intersex people in their May 2007 episode “Born to Kill,” which also featured an intersex killer.
Monday’s episode involved the investigation of a man, Zach Finley, suspected of raping and then stabbing a rich heiress to death. A blood test of Finley reveals that he has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, a genetic condition in which chromosomally XY individuals are unable to respond to the androgens which cause typically-male sexual differentiation, according to the Intersex Society of North America. Since the detectives are only concerned with Finley’s physical ability to sexually assault the victim, the show reduces the complexities and realities of AIS into a simple lack of external male genitalia. In fact, AIS often manifests itself in feminine gender identity and expression, a possibility which the show erases with its portrayal of Finley as a stereotypical gender-conforming male.
The detectives eventually discover that Finley was working in tandem with a rapist, and Finley finally confesses that he would follow his partner’s assaults by fatally stabbing the victims to death because, in his words, “He could be with these women, but I couldn’t. Killing was the only way that I could get close to them… Closer than sex.” This ridiculous premise for homicide offends on many levels (not the least of which is its perpetuation of a heterosexist idea of sex and intimacy), but ultimately sends an unacceptable message that intersex conditions necessarily result in such psychosexual pathologies.
From the lab technician’s reaction of, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god” upon realizing that the suspect was intersex, to the poignant close-up shot of the Men’s bathroom sign where the detectives perform their visual confirmation of Finley’s anatomy off-screen, to repeated commentary about his “lack of equipment,” the episode oversimplifies and flippantly under-addresses the realities of intersexuality, all the while reinforcing the perception of people with AIS or other intersex conditions as inherently and genetically pathological.
Please contact CBS to voice your concerns about this defamatory portrayal:
Beth Haiken, Director of Publicity – CSI: Miami
GLAAD is in the midst of ongoing conversations with producers at CBS to improve the network’s overall coverage of LGBT issues. Please check back for updates, and notify us if you witness similar defamatory representations on this show, or any other, in the future.