This past weekend I gave the keynote address at the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association meeting in Chicago. My talk was entitled "Facing History: Understanding Craniofacial Care in a Broader Cultural Context." I spoke about how there are common threads running throughout the personal narratives of people born with atypical anatomies, one of them being that what others see as simple "deformities" or sources of stigma are often experienced as livable, integral parts of subjects' lives.
The meeting was great; I learned so much from talking with the professional care providers for craniofacial anomalies! Here are a few of the things they know that those of us working to help families dealing with intersex need to know:
In 2004 ISNA’s energies are focused on reforming U.S. medical education with regard to intersex.
The following letter was published as Chase, Cheryl. 1993. Letters from Readers. The Sciences, July/August, 3.
As an intersexual I found Anne Fausto-Sterling's "The Five Sexes" [March/April] of intense personal interest. Her willingness to question medical dogma on intersexuality is unique and refreshing. I understand that she has not had the opportunity to meet with any "corrected" intersexuals; I believe that I can provide some perspective on the experience. Surgical and hormonal treatment allows parents and doctors to imagine that they have eliminated the child's intersexuality. Unfortunately the surgery is immensely destructive of sexual sensation and of the sense of bodily integrity. Because the cosmetic result may be good, parents and doctors complacently ignore the emotional pain of the child forced into a socially acceptable gender, his/her body violated by the surgery, and again during frequent genital examinations. Many "graduates" of medical intersex corrective programs are chronically depressed, wishing vainly for the return of body parts, and suicides are not uncommon. Some are transexual, rejecting their imposed sex. Follow-up of adults to ascertain the long term outcome of intervention is conspicuously absent.