Why Should You Decide My Genitalia?
illustration by Liv

From the political sphere there is a lot of tension and confusion around the
decision-making involved in intersex and trans health politics. One major question
is if a baby with ambiguous genitalia should be surgically assigned a sex at birth or
not. Another issue is around sex changes. Many health insurances do not cover the
cost of surgery for sex changes, and many doctors do not want to perform a sex
change without ample evidence that the patient is absolutely sure they want to have

These two issues with intersex individuals are very conflicting. While most
doctors choose to assign a sex to a child, although it may not match up with their
gender, they do not want to perform surgery to reverse the sex assignment the baby
was given. This leaves the individual in the worst situation possible because they
are assigned a sex based on chance, and if it does not match up to their gender they
end up with extensive financial, emotional and social struggles and sanctions.

One of the pressures that the government has to face in solving this problem
is that a lot of the parents of these children do not want to leave their children with
no sex and therefore consent for the doctor to perform surgery on the child. This is
because they are often afraid of how the public will treat their child, and they are
also not very well informed of the consequences. The public is not very accepting
of people with ambiguous gender. More often then not, policy follows how people
are already acting. The medical sphere and parents are basing their decisions off
of the societal norms in place. This is why it’s important for the public to be more
accepting of people with an undefined gender.

Most importantly is the individual, yet their opinion seems to be the most
ignored. Although the individuals and their consent seems like it should be the most
important stake holder, often the medical institutions and parents get in the way
of that because the individual can not give an opinion at birth. Studies should be
investigated to decide what would give the individual the best life. I would theorize
that this would be to let them pick their own gender before performing surgery. Or
there at least needs to be reform in the costs and struggles of having the surgeries
later. Why is the individual the last person to have a say in decision-making?

Due to all of these issues the government is put in an awkward spot because
even if the individual is in mind in dictating how to handle children born with
ambiguous genitalia; this may result in negative feedback from doctors, parents and
the public. Until parents, doctors, and society are more comfortable with the idea
of an individual that is not defined by the binary gender spectrum that is currently
acceptable, no legislation will be made. There needs to be social change in order
for the government to provide education on gender and this needs to happen or
there won’t be government pressure on doctors and health insurance for sexual
reassignment surgery.

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April 15, 2013


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Comments closed