Raising Kids in a "Third Gender"?
The “Traditional Values Coalition” appears to be confused about ISNA’s mission, so I thought I would answer again a question we get all the time:
Does ISNA advocate raising children who have intersex conditions in a “third gender” category?
To anwer that, I’ll quote from the “Top Ten Myths about Intersex”:
MYTH #7: ISNA advocates doing nothing and raising intersexed babies in a third gender.
…We certainly would like to see people become less gender-phobic, but we don’t think dumping intersexed kids into a gender-phobic world with no gender or with a “third gender” is the way to go. We believe there are two problems with trying to raise kids in a “third gender.”
First, how would we decide who would count in the “third gender”? How would we decide where to cut off the category of male and begin the category of intersex, or, on the other side of the spectrum, where to cut off the category of intersex to begin the category of female?
Second, and much more importantly, we are trying to make the world a safe place for intersexed kids, and we don’t think labeling them with a gender category that in essence doesn’t exist would help them. (Duh, huh?)
ISNA recognizes that it can be damned hard to be intersexed, or to have an intersexed child. That’s why we exist. That’s why we don’t advocate “doing nothing.” What we do advocate is providing parents of intersexed newborns - and within a couple of years, intersexed children themselves - honest and accurate information about intersex, psychological counseling by professionals who are not gender-phobic, medical help for any real medical problems, and especially referrals to other people dealing with the same issues. Time and again researchers have found that, no matter what the condition - being gay, dealing with a serious disease - peer support, even if informal, saves families and lives….
Now I have a question for the “Traditional Values Coalition”: Is sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the facts of nature (that sex is more than simply dichotomous) a traditional value? I’m not sure how humans could have advanced so far, scientifically and politically, if it were!
You can hope (and pray) all you want that nature will present you with two, nice, neat sexes. It just ain’t gonna happen. So let’s take care of the people born with intersex conditions who get oppressed because folks like the “Traditional Values Coalition” want to pretend they don’t exist. Taking care of children in need — now THAT’S a traditional value I can live with!
If you prefer the mission of ISNA to that of the “Traditional Values Coalition,” please consider putting your money where your heart is. Think about donating to support our efforts.