The society, even before, has been full with many peculiarities that are increasingly becoming more known and acceptable for many. One’s peculiarities or unconventional traits may likewise be his or her clothing choice, appearance, sexual preference or genetic disposition. Among these peculiarities are individuals with intersex condition. An intersex condition is a range of conditions that give rise to an atypical development of one’s physical sexual characteristics. An intersex condition may likewise involve deformities in the external sex organs, internal reproductive tissues and organs, sex chromosomes, or sex hormones. This condition may be manifested in many ways including the difficulty in the classification of one’s sex based on the external genitalia, the inconsistency between the external genitalia and the internal sexual organs, alterations in the sex chromosomes, and the unconventional development of the ovaries or testes, among others (Hyde & Delamater, 2012).
However, some finds the need to resort to surgical procedures to “correct” intersex conditions even when the individuals affected are not able to make decisions for themselves. The purpose of this paper is to weigh the different advantages and disadvantages of these “corrective” surgical procedures by using a real life event that happened in South Carolina, USA. Furthermore, all arguments that will be presented will be supported by facts and statements from various experts.
Brief Summary of Event
A couple by the name of Mark and Pam Crawford adopted MC from the South Carolina Department of Social Services after seeing the photo of the child on their website. They understand that many of the children that were featured on the site have health issues and were later informed that the child was born with an intersex condition. MC was born with a penis and a vagina, together with both a testicle and ovarian tissues. MC had undergone surgery by the time they adopted the child and was decided to be a girl by doctors under the premise that it is what suits the child. Ten years later, MC is nearing teenage years and identifies as male and acts as one. The couple is now suing the doctors for the alleged genital mutation (Magaldi, 2015).
Surgeries like what MC had undergone are performed under the old and traditional assumption that children should be spared from the burden of having to look unconventional, or feeling unaccepted since they are different in some ways. This belief stemmed from John Money in as early as 1965 when he guided doctors to perform surgeries on intersex babies and discouraged parents to bring up to the child what happened to prevent any sexual identity crisis (Slijper & Drop, 1998). The reason for doing so may sound rational by that time since the society then have not even accepted homosexuals nor intersex.
There are some thought of advantages that may come up when parents choose to adapt John Money’s guidelines. Among them are avoiding the difficulty of having to explain to their child nor anyone of the condition, possibility of eliminating sex identity crisis, and relatively normal sexual activities may be participated by the child later in life. Studies had also showed that it is possible for a female gender identity to be established even if one had undergone intersex surgeries even when the normal genetic disposition is that of a male (Bradley, Oliver, Chernick & Zucker, 1998). However, that is not always the case.
Among the disadvantages of the surgery that are apparent with MC is that one may identify oneself as the opposite gender from what one was assigned to. In addition to this, intersex surgeries are now deemed medically unnecessary as being intersex does not compromise one’s health. It is also full of consent issues and may be psychologically harmful. Advocates against surgeries on intersex babies also argue that these surgeries usually cause stigma against the intersex and the feeling that one cannot stick to social constructs (Ghorayshi, 2015).
Since the issue is new and uncommon to be heard of, there is a big possibility that the MC will be recognized by many people. Mass media are significantly responsible for the dissemination of the news, since this kind of story will make the society have something to talk about (Hyde & Delamater, 2012). Depending on how the story is told, the people will either sympathize with the child, or be misled by the words of the media and subject the child and parents to prejudice. Whatever the people may think about the situation, the fact that the story gained some popularity will affect the child’ behavior and mentality in the near future, especially that the story has relation with the issue of sexuality.
Psychologically speaking, the fact that the doctors assigned MC’s gender opposite to the child’s preference will raise confusion in the mind of the child, especially during the time when the issue has become clear to him. The child may experience identity crisis, because there will be instances that a child who undergoes this kind of situation will feel that there is something wrong with their preference (Hyde & Delamater, 2012). Although MC’s case is a little bit different, because the child was born with both sexes, the same feeling of confusion can be traced to him, especially if his mind matured and able to grasp the situation clearly. Fortunately, the fact that the parents supported MC’s decisions and preference will make the child worry-free as of now since he is not being constrained against the things he is doing as a male.
In other aspects, the contradiction between the stated gender of the child and the child’s gender preference will most likely create problems in the future, especially in political and other legal matters. The issue of sexuality might reflect to documentations and other legal aspects which require the gender of the child (Hyde & Delamater, 2012). Inquiries may arise in the future, which will make it difficult for MC to be involved in some services which undergo legal services and contradiction of information will make MC disqualified for such involvement since he will try to convince the people that he is a male whereas doctors from before had assigned him in the opposite gender. Furthermore, MC’s place in the society will just become complicated and he will become clueless to the confusion that is happening within his identity, because he already knew, both from his parents and from himself that he is male.
Mistakes in gender assignment will create branches of future problems to a child, especially if the gender of the child was assigned during infantry. It feels like the child was robbed of freedom due to the condition of having both genitals within the child’s anatomy. For the mistake that had been done by the doctors, proper judgment must be made and appropriate punishment must be made to resolve the issue and to save the child from problems that he/she might face when approaching adolescence and eventually, adulthood. The issue might have affected the child already at this moment in time, but if the problem will be resolved as soon as possible, then MC will not be bothered by future accusations, judgments and contradictions of choice. As for MC’s parents, the continuous support that they have given to MC is commendable enough because they did not become a hindrance to the preferences of the child. Instead, they give the child the freedom and whatever the decision of MC will be, they are still there to support and fight for the right of the child.
Bradley, S., Oliver, G., Chernick, A., & Zucker, K. (1998). Experiment of Nurture: Ablatio Penis at 2 Months, Sex Reassignment at 7 Months, and a Psychosexual Follow-up in Young Adulthood. American Academy of Pediatrics, 102(1).
Hyde, & Delameter. (2012). PowerWeb: Human Sexuality (12th ed.).
Magaldi, K. (2015). Parents Sue Doctors For Deciding Their Kid Is A Girl. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.msn.com/en-us/health/pregnancyparenting/parents-sue- doctors-for-deciding-their-kid-is-a-girl/ar-BBlIUDA
Slijper, F., & Drop, S. (1998). Long-Term Psychological Evaluation of Intersex Children. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 27(2), 125-144.