January 4, 2014

"I don’t know one intersex individual who is happy with the treatment they have received from the physicians they have consulted with over the years — not one."

"One’s sexual feeling, ability to feel like they can couple with another human being, is literally destroyed by some doctor’s idea of how genitals are supposed to look."
“I learned to lie. I couldn’t tell other kids I went to the hospital and had my genitals chopped up again.” He lived with a plastic tube attached to his genitals so that he could stand to pee; his urinary opening came at the base, not the tip, of his penis. Cosmetic surgery should not be performed on infants, he insists. “If they choose, later, to have a surgery—if it’s their choice. If I’d had the chance to do that, I wouldn’t have gone quite so horrible an adolescence, quite so difficult an identify formation as an adult.”

“Remember: your kid is going to want his genitals. Your kid is going to want her genitals.... ”


sinz52 said...

With babies born with ambiguous genitalia, most surgeons will urge the parents to choose the female gender.

Because as one surgeon phrased it: "It's easier for me to make a hole than a pole." It's just easier for a surgeon to construct a vagina than a penis.

As a result, statistically we would expect to end up with a lot of intersexed women who don't feel comfortable with their gender.

Intersex is fascinating because it shows the difference between sex and gender.

There are women with Y chromosomes, for example.

betamax3000 said...

Cleft Palette. Spelling Intentional.

betamax3000 said...

RE: ""It's easier for me to make a hole than a pole."

Sort of Like the Inverse of Balloon Animals: the Snake is Always the Easiest.

betamax3000 said...

Show Us on the Doll Which Genitalia You Want.

betamax3000 said...

Dolls Like Ken and Barbie Don't Have Genitalia: I Understand.

Skyler said...

Surprise! People so screwed and unhappy up that they think they are unhappy because of their sex are going to remain unhappy.

EIA said...

Sounds mainly like a violation of the "First, do no harm" medical precept.

Maybe one should wait and see how things ... uhh, develop?

Of course, society with find all sort of ways to try and force the issue... Well, one more reason to homeschool.

betamax3000 said...

Hard to Make a Banana Out of a Donut.

betamax3000 said...

Makes me think of the following Phil Hartman SNL skit:

[ open on Obstetrician's office - Reporter enters ]

Reporter: Dr. Hoffritz? Shelley Barnette, People Magazine.

Obstetrician: Come on in! Here, have a seat.

Reporter: Thank you.

Obstetrician: People Magazine. I don't know why anyone would want to read about me - I'm just a small-town family obstetrician.

Reporter: Well, my editors seem to think you have a very interesting story here. Now, I understand you've been working and practicing here in Radfield for 21 years.

Obstetrician: That's right.

Reporter: And you've delivered over 4,300 babies.

Obstetrician: That's right.

Reporter: And they've all been girls.

Obstetrician: That's right. They've all been girls!

Reporter: Well, you know, that's amazing! You know, my assistant back in New York actually calculated the odds of that happening. It's over 1 in 700 trillion.

Obstetrician: Oh, no kidding. Well.. the important thing is - knock on wood - they're all healthy and happy. I try to stay in touch with as many as I can. They're like my family. They're my little girls.

Reporter: It's like a miracle. Not one single boy.


Janet Carter: You see, Ted wants a boy. This is our eighth try.

Ted Carter: We'll try again.

Janet Carter: No. No more.

Ted Carter: Doctor, will this one need that operation?

Obstetrician: Yes, I'm afraid so.

Reporter: [ curious ] What operation is this, Doctor?

Obstetrician: Well.. every now and then, a little girl is born with a penis and testicles. And, of course, they have to be removed and reshaped.

Ted Carter: It's quite routine. Five of our seven daughters have had this operation.

Reporter: Doctor, what percent of the babies that you deliver need this operation?

Obstetrician: Oh, I'd say.. 48, 49.. 50, 51% - in that area!


Reporter: [ bothered ] Dr. Hoffritz, can't you see what you're doing here? I mean, the 48-51% - they're not girls, they're little boys! You have mutilated over 2,000 little boys!

Obstetrician: No! No, they weren't boys. They were little girls.. trapped in little boys' bodies.. [ music sweeps over him ] You see.. boys are.. bad. They have bad thoughts! Sometimes they disobey their mothers.. they have to be punished! [ sniffles ] But what do their mothers know, anyway.. [ weeping ] They're out all night with "Uncle Rudy"! But he's not my uncle! Why does she call him my "uncle"..? [ falls to the floor, crying ]

David said...

“My mother regrets having my penis cut off and my testes cut out so, so much.”

Talk about ambiguity.

Ann Althouse said...

@skyler. Please read and understand the linked story, which you are mistaking for something else. Your remark would be coarse even if the story was what you seem to think. As it is, what you are saying is awful.

Anyone who thinks this is funny should imagine having a baby in this condition. Then imagine trusting the doctors, submitting the baby to surgery and regretting it.

Ann Althouse said...

Most people do trust the doctor and where there is a choice, do what the doctor says he would do.

khesanh0802 said...

If the child is able to function biologically it would seem best to wait.
I don't know what that means medically, but trusting your doctor to be able to enumerate the effects of the problem and the possibilities available is as far as I would go with the "trust your doctor" schtick. They are human and have their own prejudices and pressures to deal with. I find that they are good on analysis but we who are affected should be more willing to make the final decision since we have to live with the consequences.

Anglelyne said...

I've always had the impression that this "we've got to fix this right now!" attitude regarding intersex people was more about making the freaked-out parents and other adults comfortable than it was about the best interests of the child.

Unfortunately, because the author's ability to think clearly about this stuff has been so obviously hampered by ideology ("..we [sic] agree that the salient differences between genders are social constructs, and give little leeway to those who insinuate that..."), she has to shoehorn the plight of the intersexed into the current Great Leap Forward in Recognition and Acceptance for Anybody's Sexual Kink, No Matter How Dubious. No, sorry, hermaphroditism is not analogous to transsexualism, nor do intersex people have something inherently in common with the pervert who wants to use the girls' locker room.

So we end up with an otherwise interesting article that is cluttered up with the author's markers establishing her confused rightthink bona fides. Which doesn't mean that Skyler isn't an asshole.

Michael K said...

The Johns Hopkins clinic for this was a closed because people are unhappy even when they made this choice as adults. There is one famous movie actress who is an example of what used to be called testicular feminization syndrome. She is an XY and is anatomically a (very good looking) woman.

I don't know the solution but gender is not a "construct."

Jason said...

It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them.

betamax3000 said...

RE: "Anyone who thinks this is funny should imagine having a baby in this condition. Then imagine trusting the doctors, submitting the baby to surgery and regretting it."

I Can Imagine It, By Which I Mean I Can Imagine Only to the Limited Extent of the Outsider: Imagining Always Falls Short of Experiencing. What Catches Me is the "Anyone who thinks this is funny should..." Construct: i.e., Something is Wrong With Your Compassion.

Unfortunately, Life is Overflowing with All Manner of Heartbreaking Sources of Empathy. Humor is the Whistling Through the Graveyard We All Employ In Some Degree to Get By. A Great Amount of Humor is Not Funny if Looked at Closely and/or Literally ("Then imagine trusting the doctors..."); of course, A Great Amount of Humor is Not Funny at All, but that is a Different Thing Altogether. Still, Sure: I Can Imagine That Gallows Humor is Probably Not What the Man in the Noose Wants to Hear. Inevitably, Most Jokes Will Brush a Survivor at Some Point.

It Might Be Wonderful to Have a World Where All Humor Goes Exactly to the Line and No Further; However, Everyone's Lines Are In Different Places, and Some Keep Moving.

'I Don't Find This Funny': a Statement of Valid Opinion.

'Imagine trusting the doctors...': Here is the Reason I Do Not Find This Funny.

'Anyone Who Finds this Funny': a Statement of (Mild?) Condemnation or Dismissal.


'I Don't Andy Kaufman Funny': a Statement of Valid Opinion.

'He Doesn't Even Tell Jokes': Here is the Reason I Do Not Find Him Funny.

'Anyone Who Finds Him Funny': a Statement of Dismissal.

Myself, I Like Andy Kaufman; Told Him So When I Saw Him at Whole Foods on Tuesday.


What Happens When a Man's Penis is Cut Off? A Blurb on Drudge, Blogged Here and There, and: Jokes, Jokes, Jokes. I Can Imagine My Penis Being Cut Off, But I Have Not (Thankfully) Experienced It: Thus, I Can Still Laugh, Whistling Through the Graveyard...


Skyler said...

You're right, Anne, I misunderstood the headline.

So it's the parents that should be blamed for making bad decisions.

There are certainly intersex people and they deserve our sympathy as their plight is not of their own making.

But I will stick with my opinion on people who choose to mutilate themselves, or the perverse parents who mutilate their children in the absence of a very real need. Such people are monsters.

Darrell said...

There was a new book out in the UK a year or so ago saying that Wallis Simpson was born intersex. The Brits ate it up because they are still sore about the whole matter.

betamax3000 said...

What Do The Doctors Suggest When an African-American Baby is Born With Caucasian Genitalia?

Dang: the Line is behind Me.

William said...

I didn't read the article. I find the whole concept of cutting off a penis disturbing. The article was written by a woman and, I suspect, read mostly by women. They find the concept strangely compelling. Freud got a few things right.

Ann Althouse said...

"I find the whole concept of cutting off a penis disturbing. The article was written by a woman and, I suspect, read mostly by women. They find the concept strangely compelling."

How would you feel if you had a penis that looked like an enlarged clitoris? Would you prefer to have it reshaped into what would look like a typical clitoris? That's the question.

I'm not an expert on any of this, but I think the default decision should always be against surgery. If something isn't harmful in some way, leave it alone. First, do no harm.

Skyler said...

"I'm not an expert on any of this, but I think the default decision should always be against surgery. If something isn't harmful in some way, leave it alone. First, do no harm."

Exactly. Unless there is a functional issue, then let the child decide what to do when he is old enough to understand what is at stake.

David said...

Skyler said...
You're right, Anne, I misunderstood the headline.

Translation: I didn't read the article.

Anglelyne said...

William: Freud got a few things right.

You mean "castration anxiety" and "projection"? Could be.

EDH said...

Sometimes, the pubis isn't what it appears to be.

Wayworn Wanderer said...

We put WAY too much trust in medical doctors. Thank the government, which gives them all sorts of special privileges over the rest of us.

madAsHell said...

What Do The Doctors Suggest When an African-American Baby is Born With Caucasian Genitalia?

Columbia Law School, followed by a little community organizing, and then a run for the Presidency!!

Douglas said...

Beta - Thanks for the SNL skit! that was hilarious!

Skyler said...

"Translation: I didn't read the article."

Well, it was a New York paper. You can usually assume the agenda.

yetibiker said...

I didn't see anywhere in here that any more search was done for the rest of the sex organs. Genitalia can be ambigious. Chromosomes can sometimes be ambigious. Doctors can locate ovaries well before the child is a year old. The great majority of these ambigious genitalia cases are simply a VERY enlarged clitoris that looks like a penis. A skilled surgeon can easily reduce the size of the clitoris after the girl is a year old with absolutely no ill effect on function. Nobody has to know. Girls have enough to worry about growing up.

amielalune said...

What percentage of humans are born this way? And why are we spending any time at all talking about it?

No one knows how they will act unless they are faced with the situation. Our tossing quips back and forth solves nothing.

We have so many things going on in our society that deserve our attention; quibbling about intersex babies is just a further sign of many people's unhealthy obsession with sexuality.