Friday, April 16, 2010

intersex fetishizing

Hello readers, I'm sorry my postings have become somewhat sporadic, but I have been kinda busy. Today I am writing about sexual fetishes and haw they are hurting the intersex community.

Ever since the intersex community formed there has been a discussion about whether there is a fetishized aspect to surgeons doing genital surgeries. Many plastic surgeons have admitted that genital surgery is considered an "art" and since there are statistically few people who have such procedures done, there is not really a set surgical method, but several of them, and it is largely left up to the surgeons discretion. They definitely get excited over the opportunity. Whether or not this is a sexual excitement (fetish) is debatable (some would argue, and I would agree, that anything involving the genitals is inherently sexual). Even if this is not technically a fetish, it still is disturbing.

The more blatant use of fetishs to hurt intersexuals is in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM is the big list of psychological issues and their recommended therapeutic treatment that psychologists use. The most recent edition, the DSM IV, lumps intersexuals who reject their assigned gender into a broad catagory called GIDNOS (gender identity disorder not otherwise stated) which is a sub-branch of GID (gender identity disorder) which is mostly used for diagnosing transexuals (personally I hate the expression, there is nothing disordered about trangender). The sub-branch of GIDNOS not only includes intersexuals, but also cross-dressers, and autogynephilia, a fetish some men have with the removal of their penis. Personally I do not think intersex has any place in psychology, by definition it is a biological, not merely psychological condition, and certainly doesn't belong in GID (by definition an intersexual cannot be transgendered). That aside, I think lumping intersex and autogynephilies shows a great misunderstanding of intersex. We do not get turned on by the thought of being mutilated, the doctors mutilated us. I think that doctors and psychologists have done this because they have seen the writing on the wall (that the intersex community is gaining power and is mad as hell at them) and did this humiliating lumping to protect themselves. If an intersexual who has rejected their gender assignment comes to them, they can say, according to their diagnostic books, that it is not a matter of gender identity, but a fetish to either gain or lose a penis (how Freudian).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

parents perspective

I bugged my mom into writing a piece for my blog. This way you can hear other peoples opinions (gasp). So, without any further ado, here's what my mom had to say:

A parent’s perspective;
I was recently filling out our 2010-census form and I realized that once again I had to inaccurately settle on gender for one of our children. I wanted or needed to be able to have more choices on the census form. While I don’t personally like the term “neuter”, I applaud Australia’s willingness to alter Norrie May-Welby’s birth certificate to better represent this person’s gender.

When I hear an expectant parent announce the exact sex of their child prior to birth, I cringe. I wonder how can a picture tell the child’s story?

When our child was born the “sex” was immediately determined to be male. Later, upon further inspection the hospital staff changed their minds and expressed uncertainty of the “sex” of our child. They immediately took the blue blanket away and used a white blanket for swaddling. We were told that this “unique phenomenon” had only occurred one other time in the hospital’s 27-year history. We were led to believe that we needed to change our child so that “society would be kind”. We listened and we trusted that we needed to follow the medical professionals advice. While their advice was well intentioned, they were wrong.

If we had known then what we know now, we might not have listened so intently to the physicians. We still would have needed to determine a gender so that society could acknowledge our child’s existence. Just like today, 20 plus years ago there were only male or female choices on US birth certificates. On paper our child needed to have a gender distinction, but physically probably not.

We followed the professional opinions and physically modified our child to be more female in appearance. Today we would have had more informational tools within our grasp and we would have realized that this ”rare” occurrence wasn’t as unique as the professionals believed.

While we tried never to mislead our child about who they are. We would say things like “nature didn’t make the decision about who you are so we had to”. All that time, while we thought we were keeping the perception of who our child is open to discussion, we were missing the most important fact. There was no perception; nature had in fact made a decision about our child. There was no need to modify the fact that nature had made our child intersex. We didn’t need to have physicians physically modify our child’s appearance. It wasn’t nature’s problem its society’s misunderstanding that gender is not two single points, but actually a continuum.