The Choice

For my Women’s Studies class, we had to explore the website Intersex Society of North America. The exploration of this website and topic, made me wonder, is it necessary for intersex people to assume a gender identity? To me the answer is a simple yes.

Before I get into the why, I think it is important for me to explain what intersex is, as I have never heard the term prior to this assignment. According to ISNA, “Intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

Now that you have a basic understanding like I do, I want to explain to you my reasoning backed by the information I read on the ISNA website. I think it is important for these intersex people to assume a gender identity because a lot of stigma and distress can come from not knowing which gender they are a part of, and they (meaning parents, doctors, psychologists, and anyone else involved in the person’s life) need to try and “make the world a safe place for intersex kids.”

So, how do you pick a gender if the person doesn’t really fit one? According to ISNA, many tests are done including hormonal, genetic, and radiological tests to help determine the best fit. Another main aspect of the process is speculating “which gender the child is most likely to fell as she or he grows up.”

But, why don’t we just create a third gender for the intersex people, wouldn’t that just solve all the problems? One of the problems that would arise is, who would the gender apply too? Second, and more important, is the fact that the third gender just does not exist. The problem would not be solved by just creating an escape.

One important aspect I thought the website seemed to ignore, involved one of the main points of the agenda. The agenda stated, “Parents’ distress must not be treated by surgery on the child.” The main focus should be on the child and how do you think the child is feeling with all of this going on? I am pretty sure I would be very distressed if I did not know whether I was a male or female. Not having medical surgery could really be the most traumatizing of all.

Whatever is decided it is important to put the main focus on their well-being.

* Intersex Society of North America. (2008). What is intersex?. Retrieved from http://www.isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex

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