- From the Editors
- (Not) Another Clit Story
- Caught Between: An Essay on Intersexuality
- Doctors Containing Hermaphrodites: The Victorian Legacy
- Finding the Words
- Growing up in the Surgical Maelstrom
- Hermaphrodites with Attitude Take to the Streets
- In Amerika They Call Us Hermaphrodites
- In Process
- Interview with Dr. Arika Aiert
- Is Growing up in Silence Better Than Growing up Different?
- Letter to My Physicians
- Meanings of Gender Variability Constructs of Sex and Gender
- My Beautiful Clitoris
- News Release: American Academy of Pediatrics Position on Intersexuality
- Ode to a Life (Poem)
- Porno Docs
- Power, Orgasm, And the Psychohormonal Research Unit
- Showering "Sans Penis"
- Silence = Death
- Take Charge! A Guide to Home Catheterization
- The Murk Manual: How to Understand Medical Writing on Intersex
- Time for a Change
- What dream? (Poem)
Interview with Dr. Arika Aiert
We are pleased to be able to present this rare interview with the controversial researcher Dr. Arika Aiert, author of Sex and Gender: An Epidemiological Perspective. Interviewer Shelly Primrose from “Not Exactly Out” magazine spoke to Dr. Aiert recently at Dr. Aeirt’s sparsely furnished home in Hampden, Maryland.
Interviewer: What causes sex?
Dr. Aiert: Well, soft pink lighting, a glass of wine, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” on the CD, and a nice butch friend who doesn’t think I’m a Feminist Traitor because I wear dresses and heels. That usually does it. ‘Course, that’s just me.
Interviewer: Oops… I meant what determines sex?
Dr. Aiert: Oh! Surgeons determine sex.
Interviewer: In what way?
Dr. Aiert: Well, let me try and explain it to you with an analogy. It’s kind of like fishing. When a doctor “hooks a big one,” so to speak, he keeps it as a good “viable” fish. But if he hooks a little one, he doesn’t throw it back, he makes it into a girl fish. Surgeons feel that fish with small penises will be very unhappy, but if they are just girls, then it doesn’t matter so everything will be OK. So, being a girl fish is not as great as being one of the “real guy fish,” but it sure beats being such a miserable creature as a “guy fish with a little weeny.”
Interviewer: Let me get this right…
Dr. Aiert: Ok, XX babies with clits that are “too big” have them removed. Doctors don’t like large clits—they find them upsetting. XY babies with penises that are “too small” have them removed, too. Surgeons find them equally if not more upsetting. That way, everyone in the world will be walking around with either a nice manly penis, one that a surgeon would be proud to display, or they have nothing that even resembles a penis at all—but they have a vagina and will be able to make their boyfriends happy, so everything works out fine for everyone. Surgeons are quite proud of their vagina-making skills. But what we have in reality is a plague of mutilation, an epidemic. If these guys were doing this stuff to adults they’d have every cop in the nation looking for them.
Interviewer: Er… “too big,” “too small”?
Dr. Aiert: Yes. Kind of a gray area, right? In fact, it’s just one vast soupy Sargasso Sea of gray area with no land in sight, a sort of Primordial Plain of Murk and Confusion. [Dr. Aiert takes a mini-maglight out of her shoulder holster, lets 3 cm. protrude from her fist.]
Dr. Aiert: “Is this a penis or a clit?”
Interviewer: “A penis.”
Dr. Aiert: “On a girl child, too?”
Interviewer: “Er… um.”
Dr. Aiert “Exactly—er um” [Exposes 1 cm. of maglight] “How about this?”
Interviewer: “For a boy or a girl?”
Dr. Aiert: “Does it matter?”
Interviewer: “Er … um …”
Dr. Aiert: “Yes, more er-umming indeed. The answer is that we don’t know what is “too big” or “too small” or how the child feels about it or how they are going to feel about it later. But surgeons are manly men of action who like to fix things and that’s exactly what happens. Lots of things get fixed.
Interviewer: Does this approach ever work?
Dr. Aiert: Not one damn bit that we can ascertain! If it has, we have never had anyone come forward and tell us about it. What we do have is more and more people coming forward who are hopping mad and out for blood, or tragically damaged from having had body parts removed and altered as infants and teens, people who have spent their teenaged years as the subjects of medical experimentation, purposefully kept isolated from each other by the Medical Industrial Complex. It’s not pretty.
Interviewer: Why don’t surgeons just talk to their ex-patients?
Dr. Aiert: They are very busy. Plus, they are quite important and ex-patients may bring back troubling thoughts. In general, they seem to want to avoid any upsetting confrontations with patients who are potentially unstable. Also, they are cowards who do not seek or face the truth.
Interviewer: Isn’t that a bit harsh?
Dr. Aiert: No, not at all. Harsh is having every bit of feeling tissue removed from your clitoral area at 18 months old area because it was “too big.” Harsh is having vaginoplasty at 14 years old, then a week later being strapped down to a table with your legs apart and a speculum stuck in you so that a dozen people can take a look and comment.
Interviewer: What is the solution, then?
Dr. Aiert: Surgery and hormone therapy should only be consensual and informed. Kids know what sex they are if they are just left to work it out and feel loved and safe enough to talk to their parents about it. Intersexed children raised fairly neutrally could easily decide at puberty what sex they would be, or if they wanted to remain intersexed. Medical complications should be handled with love and honesty. Intersexed children are special, so they should be made to feel that way, instead of like freaks or worse. Actually, it is really so simple.
Interviewer: What causes gender?
Dr. Aiert: Clothes. Yes, gender is mainly brought about by clothes. If someone has a really confused wardrobe—strapless dresses, high heels, alongside a pinstripe power suit or lumberjack shirts, it’s a sure sign that they may be confused about gender. Once you are one with your wardrobe, your gender worries are over. Another cause of gender are the sexual positions. Lots of sex has a “top” and a “bottom,” so we have a male gender person on top and a female gender person on the bottom. It works out that way almost every time! Take lesbians, for instance, who can make love sideways to mutual satisfaction. With no top or bottom, there is no gender, and many lesbians are quite unconcerned about gender. It is my theory that if we all had sex, say, by hanging vertically and rubbing our interesting parts together, the whole gender thing would just sort of fade away.
Interviewer: Where are you off to next?
Dr. Aiert: Actually I’m beginning a new book on lesbian sexuality and I’m going down to Lynn’s place to do some research. Care to join me?