MYTH #6: You can't raise an intersexed child as a boy or girl without surgery.

Of course you can! When people ask me whether my baby is a boy or girl, do I have to show them his genitals to answer their question? No, I tell them, “He’s a boy.” To gender a child, we give that child the label of “boy” or “girl” and thereby float them into the (admittedly often problematic) gender stream of our culture.

How would we decide what gender to give an intersexed baby? Doctors and parents should consider an intersexed baby’s genitals and physiology and, using the best knowledge they have of various intersex conditions and our culture, decide which gender the child is most likely to grow up to have. Sure, this requires recognizing that the child might express a different gender later. But the fact is that even with “corrective” surgery designed to “lock in” one gender, many intersexed children transition gender later.

We also have to recognize that everyone’s gender assignment is preliminary. Mine was, yours was, so is my son’s. Intersexed people are more likely than others to transition genders, but everyone, intersexed and not, has that potential. And it is worth remembering that the idea of “locking in” a gender using “corrective” surgery feeds into Myth 5