Free Medical education in Germany
When a baby is born intersex, many physicians find it appropriate to assign a sex through surgical intervention. Advocates of early genital surgery suggest that, if normalization surgery is done at birth or shortly thereafter, the intersexed child will be capable of developing a gender identity that echoes the surgically assigned gender, therefore decreasing psychological trauma in the patient. However, with the advent of marriage equality in many states, the intersex community has begun to develop a collective voice—a voice that is challenging the ethical permissibility of normalizing surgeries at birth and shedding light on its destructive potential.
It all comes down to the conception of normality: normal genitalia, normal sexual anatomy, normal sexual desire—these arbitrary expectations presume that there is a correct way to be male or female, and, on the flip side of the coin, that there is an incorrect way to be male or female. This notion of ‘normality’ complicates and obscures ethical boundaries—boundaries that are drawn by the scalpels of clinicians who have not received adequate education on the psychosocial implications of intersexuality.
Because physicians are not properly trained to treat intersexuals, there is no common understanding amongst health care providers of what exactly is meant by the word ‘intersex.’ Is there a point at which a male becomes a female, anatomically speaking? If sexuality exists on a spectrum, how can we fairly decide the point at which genital ambiguity becomes too ambiguous?
What we see here is a sad truth: the terms ‘female’ and ‘male’ do not describe what is anatomical; rather, they describe that which is designated first by medical professionals, and second by the sociocultural forces that impress importance to a social fabrication which is viewed instead as a social authenticity. These forces serve only to alienate intersexed children and make them feel inadequate, undeserving, and monstrous.