Well, folks, good news and bad news:
The March issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine includes a big article on vaginas, called “The V-Zone: A Guide to Your Most Private Body Part.”
The good news first: We were so pleased to see that the article actually recognizes intersex and other kinds of sexual variation! Fact point #9 tells us “few lips [labia] are a perfect pair,” and #22 reports “some women “don’t have [a vagina].” Right on—we’re not born all alike!
The bad news? Cosmo suggests that the solution for having less than “ideal” genitalia is surgery. Get this: “Luckily, women with this rare condition [vaginal agenesis] can use a dilator or have surgery to construct a vagina and experience a relatively normal sex life.”
We’ve been trying to figure out what to say about the death of David Reimer. Though David was not intersex by the usual definitions, his story was like so many others we have heard from people with intersex conditions: Full of shame, secrecy, and trauma. Punctuated by hope, individuality, and love.
Though the follow-up stories of David Reimer from Milton Diamond and John Colapinto have made doctors stop and think, we know from our work that too many families coping with intersex are still subjected to shame, secrecy, and trauma. This won’t change until intersex is recognized as a psychosocial issue fully deserving of team care that foregrounds psychosocial support. But today, it is still primarily handled with surgeries meant to make intersex magically disappear. Enough pity and secrecy already. Let’s move toward honest, open care that plays on the strengths of families coping with intersex, rather than on their presumed weaknesses.
28 September 1999 For Immediate Release
"Defining Male and Female: Intersexuality and the Collision Between Law and Biology," published in the Arizona Law Review's Summer 1999 number, is a broad examination of the law's treatment of persons of ambiguous sex. Author Julie Greenberg, of San Diego's Thomas Jefferson School of Law, examines binary assumptions in the law and offers a brief discussion of how biology confounds those assumptions.
Greenberg then examines cases which have produced legal definitions of the terms "male," "female," and "sex," and analyzes the legislative intent underlying laws which differentiate based upon sex in order to determine to what extent presumed legislative goals are actually accomplished. Finally, she uses the lens of therapeutic jurisprudence to examine the negative impact which the current legal approach has on individuals and on our society.
Press Release: 18 November 1997
Diamond and Sigmundson publish recommendations
Sex researcher Milton Diamond and psychiatrist Keith Sigmundson, whose publication last March of a follow-up which revealed that the sex reassignment of "John/Joan" had been a failure, have unleashed a new wave of controversy. The October issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine published a new article by the pair, which outlines a new model of management for intersexuality. "Some of these suggestions," note the pair, "are contrary to today's common management procedures. . . Underlying our guidelines is the key belief that that patients themselves must be involved in any decision as to something so crucial in their lives."
26 August 1999
For Immediate Release
Physician's Weekly carries a Point/Counterpoint
article in which pediatric endocrinologists
Philip Gruppuso of Brown University and
Peter Lee of University of Pittsburgh debate
the advisibility of cosmetic surgery on infants
Press Release: September 1997
Dr. Alice Dreger Publishes “Ethical Problems in Intersex Treatment”
The current issue of the Medical Humanities Report, a quarterly publication of the Center for Ethics and Humanites in the Life Sciences at Michigan State University, carries an article titled “Ethical Problems in Intersex Treatment,” by narrative ethicist and historian Dr. Alice Dreger.
Dr. Dreger will be presenting on “Listening to Hermaphrodites: Historical and Ethical Problems in the Medical Treatment of Intersexuality” at the annual meeting of the Society for Health and Human Values, in Baltimore Nov 7.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The well-known and well-regarded Dr. Joyce Brothers has just written about the intersex treatment controversy in a syndicated column appearing in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and elsewhere. Judging by her Q&A’s on intersex, Dr. Brothers has taken a close look at what what we have to say and agrees with the logic of our recommendations. Thanks, Dr. Brothers, for seeing the importance of public education about people with intersex! We would like to note, though, that intersex is not the same as “ambiguous genitalia,” as Dr.