intersex

Christina Engela's picture

Broad-Spectrum Anti-Idiotics

"Before Carol was a Carol they were a David, strange but true. Make some hard cash and any transexual can become a woman."
This is broadly speaking the comment someone made about somebody else in a discussion I was part of recently. They had it in for somebody whom they didn't agree with on some or other matter, and went around posting articles and comments venting their dislike for them - and in each case pointing out the detail that they were "transsexual", only to later have it pointed out to them that they had it completely wrong - "Carol" as it were, is intersex, not transsexual.

Personal differences aside, it made me wonder why some people find it necessary to pick out a particular characteristic of somebody they don't get on with - and then use that as an insult and a judgment - at the same time insulting and judging all other people who have that feature in common too.

That is like saying "Joe Soap, who is an Aquarius, is an incredibly bad cook - and therefore all other Aquariuses are too". Make sense?

I see no need for some people to climb into somebody's gender pedigree or to vilify or mock someone for being intersex or make it a point of special mention every single time they are brought up as a topic of discussion. This form of "entertainment" is cheap and degrading of transgender and intersex people.

It is the same as mentioning ''John who wrote "X title", the topic of our article - and only has one testicle (so he is therefore by implication, less of a man than me) Hahaha". It is irrelevant. And if it is being used as a means to ridicule or whip up sentiment against somebody, it makes it even worse. If you don't like somebody then just say so - it is unnecessary to offend all other transsexual, transgender or intersex people because you dislike one person who happens to also be transsexual or intersex.

A little clarity on the differences between intersex and transgender seems required on the topic of transsexuality in comparison to intersexuality. Allow me to provide it.
arvan's picture

Sarah Graham: A Letter to my Body

'A Letter to my Body' is a series of essays - broadcast on BBC Radio 3 - in which five thinkers, artists and writers ask themselves how they relate to their own bodies.

Sarah Graham, a successful therapist and addictions counsellor, explores her at times turbulent relationship with her body.  From the age of eight Sarah was given ongoing medical treatment but she only learned the real nature of her diagnosis at the age of twenty-five when a gynaecologist finally revealed the truth: that she has XY chromosomes and is an intersex woman.

Doctors had even shielded her parents from the truth about her "disorder of sexual development".

The shock of the revelation led Sarah on a path of depression and addiction which nearly killed her. However she has gradually rebuilt her health and her self esteem. In this essay she makes peace with her body and challenges homophobia in religion and our society's polarised expectations of gender.

AIS Support Group: http://www.aissg.org/

arvan's picture

Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She

(h/t Decidedly Obscure Human Complaints)

This documentary by filmmaker Antony Thomas (HBO's Celibacy), Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She sensitively explores the controversial subject of the blurring of gender as well as the serious social and family problems - even dangers - often faced by those whose gender may fall somewhere in between male and female.

Narrated by noted author Gore Vidal and filmed in the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America, Middle Sexes examines the ways different societies and cultures handle the blurring of gender, sexual identity and sexual orientation.

Through interviews with transgender, intersexual and bisexual men and women, as well as experts from the scientific and academic communities, the film considers the entire spectrum of sexual behavior, personal identity and lifestyles among people of different backgrounds and cultures.  From this, a theme of tolerance and appreciation of diversity emerges in the film.

Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She

(Part 1)

arvan's picture

Sex Verification in Sport

(From OII)

The science and management of sex verification in sport.

R Tucker, M Collins, South African Journal of Sports Medicine. ISSN: 1015-5163

Abstract:

http://ajol.info/index.php/sasma/article/view/50506/0

The verification of gender eligibility in sporting competition poses a biological and management challenge for sports science and medicine, as well as for sporting authorities. It has been established that in most sporting events, the strength and power advantage possessed by males as a result of the virilising action of hormones such as testosterone produce significant advantages in performance. For this reason, males and females compete largely in separate gender categories.

Controversies arise as a result of intersex conditions, where the classification of individuals into male or female is complex. The present review provides the historical context to the debate, identifying the origins of gender verification as a means to deter cheating. It describes how various testing methods have been attempted, including physical examinations of genitalia, molecular techniques including genetic screening, and complex multidisciplinary approaches including endocrinological, genetic and gynaecological examination. To date, none appear to have provided a satisfactory resolution to the problem, and appear instead to have unfairly discriminated against individuals as a result of inappropriate application of testing results.

Sporting authorities have formulated position stands for the management of such cases, but there is not absolute agreement between them and little evidence to support whether intersex individuals should or should not be allowed to compete in female categories.

Full Text: PDF
http://ajol.info/index.php/sasma/article/viewFile/50506/39186

Editorial Comment:

This article highlights the problems sports officials create for themselves when they attempt to determine an athlete’s sex from a binary perspective.

The mythical Adam and Eve model of biological sex comes crashing down in the face of medicine’s inability to develop a definitive method of sex determination.

It is time sports bodies such as the IOC and the IAAF accepted that natural variations in biological sex are no different than variations in race, ethnicity or for that matter, height or hair colour.

In some spheres of human endeavour, some individuals have natural advantages over others. Natural advantage plus hard work and training create winners. Its called competition and its what sporting events are for and why athletes participate. We think Administrators should allow them get on with it, finding other ways to sniff out drugs cheats, without destroying the lives of innocent athletes.

arvan's picture

Review of intersex film "XXY" and lecture "X's & Y's" at SAIC

I recently attended two events at The School of the Art Institute, both focused on intersex persons.  The first evening was a film, followed by a lecture presentation the next night. 

  XXY (2007), Directed by Lucía Puenzo and starring Ines Ephron as Alex. 

This film is extremely powerful as a direct result of simply being honest and unflinching.  It is the story of adolescence, of family, of honesty and the differences in how people deal with bullying.

In summary, the film centers on Alex - a 15 year-old intersex child, who has identified as a female.  She and her family live on the Ecuadorian seashore.  Her father is a biologist, rescuing endangered and wounded sea creatures.  One of the principal themes of the film is the presence of so many life forms.  Throughout human history, shore dwellers have encountered new creatures both living and dead, where the land meets the deep unknown. 

Alex's mother, Suli invites a surgeon, Ramiro, his wife Erika and their son Alvaro for a visit.  Suli has not told her husband Kraken that Ramiro is here to observe Alex.  He specializes in genital alteration surgery on intersex children.  It seems as if the two women might be friends of some sort and they are accompanied by their teen son.  She is interested in turning Alex into the daughter she wants to have.  Alex has been taking hormones to suppress the development of male puberty body changes.  Alex has stopped taking them.

arvan's picture

Organisation Intersex International Position Statement on Genital Cutting

Organisation Intersex International Position Statement on Genital Cutting

Intersex refers to atypical internal and/or external anatomical sexual characteristics, where features usually regarded as male or female may be mixed to some degree. This is a naturally occurring variation in humans. From the late 1950's onwards, starting in the USA, intersex infants and children were increasingly subject to cosmetic surgeries intended to ensure that their genital appearance and internal gonads conformed to that usually expected for their assigned gender. This also tended to entail hormone treatments aimed at conforming them to those associated with being "male" or "female."

From the early 1990’s to the present day, hundreds of intersex adults have come forward to say that they regard these medical practices as being extremely harmful to them, both physically and psychologically. Despite this high level of dissatisfaction, there has been little follow-up of adults who were treated this way as children, so without any clear understanding of outcomes, there is no real evidence upon which to justify this approach. On the contrary, the little evidence there is suggests that physiologically, functional outcome is poor. A study conducted in England of intersex people who electively chose to undergo such surgery as adults revealed that the large majority were dissatisfied; treatments resulted in physical pain and diminished sexual response, and were not able to provide them with the sense of normalcy which they hoped for.

There is no evidence that intersex variations alone will negatively impact the quality of life of the individuals who have them, nor that "normalizing" medical treatments are a solution. What evidence there is suggests the opposite; intersex adults who have not received unnecessary medical intervention have said they feel lucky to have "escaped" such treatments. They lack the psychological trauma from treatments imposed on others, and report satisfaction with their sexual response and their unique physical attributes. Such treatment is often justified from the assumption that intersex children and/or adults will be subjected to discriminatory behaviour because of their bodily differences; however, this is not necessarily correct, because their differences are sometimes only evident when naked, or not evident visually at all. Where differences are visible, this is no different than the situation of people from other minority groups. The solution to such challenges is not to alter the characteristics themselves, but to combat the prejudicial attitudes that stigmatise.

Cosmetic surgery on intersex genitals appears to harm intersex infants, children, and even adults, yet it still persists. As with male circumcision, it is often driven by parental desire to provide their children with bodies that conform to certain beliefs about how genitals should be. Also, the presumption that atypical sex anatomy will result in atypical sexual orientation and/or gender identity, homophobia and a fear of atypical gender presentation are seen by some intersex people as the motivation driving these surgeries. In many societies today, gender expression and sexual orientation are seen as a human right, and this is recognised by the UN. Performing unnecessary surgeries on infants and children in order to influence adult sexual orientation and/or gender identity outcomes should be seen as a human rights abuse. There is no evidence that sexual orientation or gender identity are affected by genital surgery one way or the other.

We seek recognition that all humans have the right to autonomy over their own bodies, including their genitals etc. Because infants and children are too young to assert their autonomy, they should not be subjected to unnecessary surgeries which may irrevocably harm them, and which they may not have chosen as adults. We recognise that cases requiring medical treatment for the maintenance of health or preservation of life should be managed as with any other situation where a child needs treatment. Intersex infants and children should be raised without cosmetic surgery and/or steroidal hormones until they are old enough to decide for themselves whether they wish to undergo these procedures and treatments or not.

We recommend avoidance of genital cutting, where possible, until a child can fully participate in decision making. This would be worked towards through communication between parents of intersex children, the children themselves, intersex adults, support groups, and clinicians who are sensitive to the needs of the child. Counselling should be available for those affected by the situation, to ensure they are fully informed and equipped to make the best decisions. Wider education about intersex as a human variation is also necessary; the cultural anxiety and social pressure that encourage surgery, hormone therapy and physical conformity need to be addressed. Through a process that includes education, communication, and counselling, then public shame will decrease, along with a reduction of cultural anxiety and social pressure, ultimately allowing people the liberty to maintain autonomy over their own bodies.

arvan's picture

Intersex as Identity: Movie screening and lecture at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

SAIC is presenting two events this week dealing with gender identity, one film and one lecture.  I spoke briefly with Quiana Carter at the SAIC about these events.  The come about as an extension of the school's commitment to addressing the topic of gender per discussions with by students and faculty.  These events are open to all, as the school is looking to create an open dialogue in exploring gender and society.

XXY
Monday, April 12, 6 p.m.
SAIC Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus Dr.
Free Screening

Directed by Lucía Puenzo, this 91-minute feature tackles issues facing 15 year-old Alex (Inés Efron), who was born an intersex child. XXY (2007) was Argentina's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2008 Academy Awards. Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs

Exs & Whys a presentation by Jen Pagonis
Tuesday, April 13, 6 p.m.
SAIC Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus Dr.
Free

A recent graduate of DePaul University and a member of the The Intersex Collective Speakers Bureau, Jen Pagonis received her degree in Women's and Gender Studies and completed her thesis on the topic of intersexuality. Her thesis presentation included original research and interviews with intersex activists from the San Francisco bay and Chicago areas. She is currently working on creating a peer led intersex youth and parent group in the Chicago area. Her appearance follows the screening of XXY on April 12 (see Films and Screenings). Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs

For more information, contact:

Quiana Burwell
Multicultural Affairs Assistant Director
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
36 S. Wabash Ave, Suite 1203 J2

Ph: 312.629-6868
Fax: 312.629.6801

arvan's picture

OII’s Objections to the APA DSM-V Committee’s Proposals on Intersex

  1. We believe that the term ‘disorder of sex development’ (DSD) is not the best way to refer to intersex, intersex people or any medical issues they experience.
  2. When an intersex person rejects an assignment made on their behalf at or near birth, or puberty, we do not regard them as having any sort of identity disorder, or gender incongruence.
  3. When a person prefers to identify as intersex, and does not want to conform to any clear gender, we do not regard them as having any sort of identity disorder, or gender incongruence.
  4. In situations where an individual rejects an earlier assignment made without their consent, we regard this as being due to an erroneous earlier assignment, and thereby any problems arising from that as iatrogenic rather than as a psychological disorder or incongruence. When no consent was sought from an individual, when it becomes possible for that person to exercise their choice to reverse such an error, this cannot be considered a disorder or incongruence.
  5. We see no need to further medicalize and stigmatize intersex people by referring to them as necessarily disordered (DSD), and where mistakes in assignment have been made, we see no value in medicalizing and stigmatizing them further by applying another form of disorder called ‘gender incongruence’.
  6. We ask that the same standards applied in the situation for homosexuality starting with the DSM-II revision be applied to intersex; we request that the DSM-V committee recognize that intersex and all intersex expressions of gender identity are part of normal human variation, and that treatment be confined to those genuine medical issues facing intersex people, and issues they themselves seek medical assistance with.
  7. In the case of children where there is some doubt as to which gender assignment will offer the best outcome, once a decision has been made on their behalf, they should be dealt with in a sensitive and flexible way that will allow them to express their own preferences as they get older, and that should be managed in a way that can most effectively accommodate their own choices and decisions. With an awareness of the potentially disastrous consequences of altering children’s genitals surgically prior to an age when they can make informed consent, we call for the minimum of non-essential medical treatment and assignment relating to their gender role, presentation and sex characteristics, until they are in a position to decide upon an appropriate gender (or some other arrangement) for themselves.
  8. To summarize: If an intersex child is assigned a gender without their consent, when they come to exercise their own choice for assignment, this cannot be considered a psychological disorder, or gender incongruence.

(Posted at Intersex in Australia)

arvan's picture

Policy on Intersex people

Adopted at Socialist Alliance's 7th National Conference, January 2010

 

Intersex people are people born with physiological differences that may be seen as being both male and female at once, not wholly male or female or as neither male nor female.

Intersex people are subjected to discrimination in employment, in housing, in the provision of medical services, and the provision of government services.

There are no laws preventing discrimination against intersex people.

Intersex children may be subjected to non-consensual surgery so that their bodies conform to dominant ideas of what constitutes a ‘male’ or ‘female’ body. Non-consensual genital surgery is particularly controversial and where there is little debate against prohibitions on female circumcision, similar procedures on intersex people happen with little community comment.

The Socialist Alliance rejects pathologising definitions of intersex such as “disorders of sexual development”. The difficulty for Intersex is not differences in anatomy but rather how those differences are perceived by the community.

Social prejudice against non conforming bodies such as intersex, are the issues that needs attention. Intersex people should not be compelled to change their bodies, their behavior, or themselves to meet mainstream social expectations.

arvan's picture

South African Intersex Criminal Kingpin Interviewed

By Shanaaz Eggington [Times Live]

'I look like a man, I talk like a man, I am a man'

Underworld flabbergasted to discover 'Fat' Murphy is Intersex

On the drug-ravaged streets he's known as Fat Murphy. Feared by many, the burly suspected drug lord is clean-shaven and wears his second wife's name tattooed on his arm.

But the man who was banished from a crime-ridden suburb on the Cape Flats by furious residents protesting against alleged drug dealers has now been unmasked - as a hermaphrodite named Hilary.

Police and the underworld were shocked this week when Fadwaan "Fat" Murphy, 37, stood up in court to face charges of possession of stolen property, and declared under oath that he was born with both male and female sexual organs.

Police claim they discovered Murphy's "true" gender when a strap-on penis fell off while he was being searched during a raid at his Kuils River home two weeks ago.

A visibly upset Murphy was forced to discuss his gender during a bail application in the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court in Cape Town.

"I had a vagina that could not be penetrated. But I also had male organs, testes. But I always knew I was really a man and that was what I wanted to be," he told the court. A startled public gallery had to be told by court orderlies to keep quiet, as he dropped the bombshell.

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