Project #85287 - women studies

Response 1)

 

The article, "The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants" discussed the reality of the ideology and process behind determining gender in babies in the modern medical world. The interviewed doctors held onto Money's theory and process behind handling ambiguity with gender in newborn babies. Although in many circumstances, the new parents rely on the doctor to tell them what gender their child is, sometimes it is not so easy, because not every child is distinctly girl or boy. This phenomena is accepted in the medical realm as unnatural, and thus, many times it is up to the doctors to determine the sex instead of discover the biological gender as most would think. Also there are pressing pressure from the parents to know if their baby is a boy or a girl, and therefore the social pressure is on the doctor to decide on their own. In many cases, a gender is determined by the doctor which can impact the "child" in the future.

As the article stated, "physicians understand that concordance and dimorphism do not always exist." This is important when determining gender of an infant because, if it is purely assumed that "naturally" we are all boy or girl, that is the only choice for gender specifications, but if we accept the article's statement that "the very idea of gender - that it consists of two exclusive types: female and male" is a social construction, then it is possible to see how the ambiguous is not so strange. If we accept that the child can only be female or male, a surgeon will operate on the to-be female/male, which can later cause physical trauma through surgical issues as well as emotional strain through the confusion of gender identity as an individual tries to cope with the societal expectations of being masculine or feminine. If my children ever had gender ambiguity when they were born, I would simply wait until my child's gender identity emerged. I view it as taking away choice if one goes and surgically removes something for the pure idea of aesthetics and fitting social norms. In my view, the child has as much or more say in the situation of bringing change to their body unless the surgery is necessary for staying healthy. I believe the doctor's quotes were based very much on the expectations of the assigned gender one stated "I think the most critical factors [are] what is the possibility that this child will grow up with genitals which look like that of the assigned gender and which will ultimately function according to gender....." This statement clearly highlights that doctors are more concerned ultimately that the child fits the gender norms, and they are not held liable for "messing up" the gender of the child. It would seem that modern practices still most likely embrace a very dimorphic view, where there are males and females as the accepted gender norm when a child is born. Do you agree with this response? Why? Why not? Write a short paragraph no more than 5 lines.

 

Response 2)

This article talks about the way doctors have thought about and how they were informed about gender reconstructions. “Physicians hold an incorrigible belief in and insistence upon female and male as the only “natural” options.” (Kessler 4) A large percentage of intersex cases are where the genitals are ambiguous but the child either has a set of ovaries or a set of testes. With this in mind the article focused on how doctors react with the ambiguous genitals. The current attitudes during the decision making process have been affected by 3 factors: advancements in surgical techniques and endocrinology, feminist influence which has called into question whether functional gonads are still a definitive gender assignment criterion, and the shifting focus to gender identity instead of gender role. Gender identity tends to focus more on the mind of the child and behavioral aspects. The current mindset of the physicians is that they now have the means to change the physical genitalia and that this is a process that must take place as soon as possible so a child’s gender identity may successfully develop. The concept is that up until about18 months of age gender identity can be most easily changed. There is the focus that gender identity is strongly defined by social factors. Doctors agree that the first time attributing gender especially to parents is crucial and ought to be done correctly to avoid confusion. The surgery often occurs relatively quickly if only a X chromosome is present in the babies DNA despite what the physical appearance of the genitals might be. However if there is a Y chromosome present, one must wait and check the phallic tissue response. This ambiguity of gender is typically hard for parents. Physicians normalize the intersexed condition so parents can understand and deal with it. Overall there is a focus on keeping the parents calm, quickly and effectively deciding the gender of the baby, and then executing the proper steps to make the baby physically agree with the gender it is assigned.

The typically important factors of the infant’s gender tend to be the physical appearance of the genitalia and the chromosomal delegation of gender. There is often more emphasis or judgement based on the physical appearance versus the hormonal assignment. However this decision of gender for the baby opens the doorway to many potential issues. Often there could be scarring or trauma for a baby having to undergo so many surgeries. There is hormone therapy during puberty and counseling throughout the child’s life to help them understand the situation. For babies tested to see if they have working responsive phallic tissue, the test actually stunts the growth of their penis. This also could often lead to emotional confusion with their gender identity. I personally feel that there is less damaged caused physically and mentally when one waits to see the gender identity that emerges instead of trying to choose or force one onto a baby. There seems to be so much residual harm for the children who undergo early surgery. The documentary was a great example of how the children who are intersexed feel about the situation they were forced into by their parents and doctors. I feel like there are some differences today. The quotes from the doctors seemed more biased towards societal norms rather than definitive facts and proof. Fortunately people are becoming more aware of this issue and strides are being made to study this issue further and people are becoming more aware of a gender spectrum instead of a duality of gender. The strength of the LGBT community and the continued growth and education of the medical field are proof that things both medically and socially are changing and hopefully improving. Do you agree with this response? Why? Why not? Write a short paragraph no more than 5 lines.

Sources for response 1 and 2 article on the file

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Response 3)

This documentary talked about how different intersex children had been raised and how their parents were advised to deal with the situation. The term intersex refers to a person whose physical genitals are not clearly seen as male or female. This change in the body occurs while the child is in the womb and is a more common occurrence than many people believe. However, people are not as out talking about their situation because of the way a lot of them had been raised. Many of them were taught to feel ashamed to and to hide their differences. Intersex children often felt like they were invisible in a world that strongly tried to only acknowledge the dichotomy of male and female. John Money came up with the hypothesis that nurture is stronger than nature and thought that he could prove his work in the situation of intersexed children. This led to doctors taking more initiative to surgically change the intersexed children and advise parents that that was the best course of action. Unfortunately the situation the intersexed children were in opened them up to sexual predators and all the early surgery emotionally scarred many of them. Even if some of the children were raised normally they still felt extreme pressure from society to conform to the gender outlines of completely male or completely female. So far people are not coming out and saying that they were glad their parents put them through that surgery when they were young. It is a tough situation and a hard call to make with the limited information that was given to many of the parents. The biggest thing though is that the parents keep loving their children and supporting them no matter what.

 

In order to improve our society, both doctors and parents need to be made more aware about intersex children. They need to understand that the situation is not simple and understand more about the long term effects their decisions could have on their child. It would help to expand upon the concept touched on in the documentary of having the parents of a new born intersex baby have people they can contact and talk to. That network of communication needs to be established so doctors and families can understand the situation and make the best decision of their baby. A way that this network or education of intersexed children could be incorporates would be to make a topic in a birthing classes or include it in some of the books about how to be a new parent and what you could encounter. If the general awareness can be raised about the fact that there is a gender spectrum instead of the dichotomy of the genders, then society would have a better understanding of people and become a more welcoming and accepting environment. Do you agree with this response? Why? Why not? Write a short paragraph no more than 5 lines.

 

Response 4)

The documentary "Intersexion" is a about the journey of an intersexual person, Mani Mitchell, in search of others like her to share their stories and experiences as an intersexual person.  Intersex is the condition in which a person is born with both male and female genitals which, medically, puts them "in between" sexes.  The individuals that she found to be a part of the documentary shared their stories from birth to adulthood.  Many talked about the numerous surgeries they had to endure as a child to try and fix their perceived abnormalities.  Most of them agreed that looking back on it as an adult, they would have chosen not to have gone through with those surgeries but were never given a chance.  John Money was brought up multiple times in the documentary because he was one of the first psychologist to study sexual identity.  His experiment with David Reimer was especially disturbing because he tried to assign a sex to an individual and it eventually led to Reimer's suicide.  Throughout the documentary, the individuals explained how they were persecuted by society and felt "alone" because everyone like them kept quiet about this subject.  With the internet as a way to connect people, now they don't have to feel alone anymore and can connect with others going through the same struggle.

We can move beyond this simplification of labeling to accommodate those born intersex and those who don't fit neatly into either male or female by educating society that these situations are quite common.  Before watching the documentary, I was not aware at 1 in 2000 people or more are born intersex.  That is probably because the topic of intersex is sort of seen as taboo and no one really speaks about it.  Education is the key to removing bigotry and educated individuals can make more informed decisions and embrace the idea that not everyone falls into a certain category.  The article about Caster Semenya is a step towards the right direction in my opinion because the officials did the right thing by letting her keep her medal and keeping her test results confidential.  Changing people's attitudes about this topic will be a tough road but I believe that it is a worthwhile endeavor. Do you agree with this response? Why? Why not? Write a short paragraph no more than 5 lines.

Sources for response 3 and 4

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/sports/20runner.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnt-8cTtdJA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Due By (Pacific Time) 10/06/2015 06:00 pm
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