milt(ams)The Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University supported a study which was written up by Charlotte Greenfield for Atlantic magazine. The title of the study was “Should We ‘Fix’ Intersex Children.”

I was not shocked by the information in the article, because I have long been aware that the sexuality of some children cannot be determined at birth; that is, they have both male and female genitalia. Shocking, perhaps, to less informed or aware readers. What was outrageous to me was the number of children and adults affected by this condition and the extreme measures often taken to resolve it.

First, I suspect most would prefer, considering the number of occurrences, to deny the condition and declare that it does not exist — “that the sexuality of some children cannot be determined at birth;” however, it is an undeniable, biological, and medical reality. According to the referenced article, the “best guess by researchers is that intersex conditions affect one in 2,000 children.” That is an astonishing figure! It is not derived from the common argument between nature and nurture, at all. One in every 2,000 children, statistically, is born with a DSD, or, a disorder of sex development, and most people cannot even conceive of such a thing. In this sense, this article is educational.

Second, there seems to be a “vacuum of reliable data tracking the number of surgeries performed on intersex children.” The few existing figures reinforce the medical literature describing the surgeries as routinely continuing. Obviously, and this is a very important consideration, it should alarm us that medical doctors (presumably obstetricians or pediatricians) are making “god-like” determinations about the sexuality which will be assigned to these children. I say this because I am also presuming that most parents would have no idea about how to confront these anomalies and would most likely take the advice of attending physicians.

Without going into detail, Dr. Ian Aaronson and two other doctors (whose identities appear in the published article), from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) performed an assignment surgery on a 16-month-old patient, designated as “M,” deemphasizing the existing male genitalia and redesigning other parts of the male into female anatomy. How often does this happen?

Many other cases were described in the research, but I am not interested in garish details. What I am interested in is how the determination was made to transform this 16-month-old child, who was apparently “a male,” from the information given, into a female? And what may happen when said youngster reaches puberty or adolescence and perhaps declares that “she” is a “he?”

Understand I am not suggesting a connection; but, at this time in our socio-cultural history with its egregious treatment of LGBTs and what rights they are entitled to, it strikes me from the aforementioned cases (who knows how many as reassignments were almost never dealt with surgically before the 1950s) that long ago we might have anticipated a large community of persons who are ambivalent about their sexually.

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