Daily Kos

Shame and Secrecy: Genital Mutilation in the US

Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:58:24 AM PDT

Think genital mutilation doesn't happen here?

It does--in each of the fifty states, and in practically every other western nation in the world on a daily basis. If there is a pediatric hospital associated with a medical school in your town or city, be assured that what I am about to tell you is done regularly in your community.

In the United States alone, it is estimated that five children a day have their genitals cut without their consent--not including circumcision. The vast majority of these surgeries are purely cosmetic and is the only non-medically necessary surgery routinely done on children before they are one or two years old.

Something to keep in mind as you read this diary and the future installments are that are two main times when sexual differentiation takes place. Beyond these two big bangs that take place in our lives, the effects of our hormones are subtlety shaping us up to be who we are on a regular basis--even as adults.

This will be the first of a four part series I want to do over the next several weekends if there is interest.

1. Intersex 101--done
2. A short history of sex, gender and how intervention started in the 1950s.
3. What intersex activists are doing
4. How you can help fix this broken part of our small world

It's a big topic--much too big to cover in just one diary. This one will probably be the longest one, thankfully. I hope you'll take the time to read it through. It may appear to not be political in nature, but it is very much so as you will learn if you follow along in future installments.

The first time is in the womb at about 12-16 weeks. At that point, if there is a Y chromosome, the fetus starts to masculinize if everything is going to plan.

If there is no Y chromosome, the fetus continues to feminize and you have a female, assuming she doesn't inherit a funky gene or develop an endocrine problem.

Sometimes, the maternal environment and endocrine hormones decide to do their own thing in the womb and give us babies that are XX but look like boys and ones that are XY but look like girls at birth. And sometimes, shit just happens that can't be traced to any one cause.

The other point of sex differentiation is at puberty when the ovaries or testes kick into high gear and start putting out large amounts of testosterone or estrogens. Prior to puberty, most people are pretty much alike hormonally---the differentiations you see are mostly social with only minor endocrine influences. Girls are put into dresses and told to act like a girl, boys into jeans and told to act like a boy. Social cues are used to reinforce to both the child and the outside world if the child is male or female. Most follow along quite naturally but for others, what they feel growing inside can be a vastly different story.

It all comes down to a big bowl of hormones in the womb and with a bit of luck, everything getting stirred into the right place at the right time.

Congratulations...you have...a baby

At birth, the sex of the newborn is determined on visual evidence. That is, those words all parents come to expect to hear shouted out, "It's a boy" or, "It's a girl", is based upon what is obvious---a penis is male, a vulva is female. Karotyping is not standard for the vast majority of births. Only if a problem later arises or is obvious at birth, will it be done.

A few parents each day hear something different. They hear words like, "Oh, shit" as my mother did 4+ decades ago. They may hear nothing as the baby is quickly removed from the delivery room. They might be told, "I'm sorry, we don't know". One common thing that happens when an obviously intersex birth takes place is the new parents will usually not be offered the opportunity to immediately hold their newborn, even though there is no medical emergency.

Other parents will hear, "It's a boy", and then be told a few days later, their baby isn't a boy at all. Or they hear just the opposite, and find out that all those pink clothes they bought will fit their baby boy just fine.

These unexpected situations place an immediate burden on the new parents. Relatives, friends, colleagues, are all waiting to hear whether the new baby is a boy or girl. And the doctors and nurses don't have an answer. Little information is being offered by the hospital because medical protocol doesn't include counseling and social work assistance for parents of intersex children. Sometimes full information will be kept from the parents for a few days in an effort to not distress them too much.

This isn't something that parents are warned about while expecting---that one in two thousand live births are intersex. The first exposure for most (unless there is a familial history someone brought up---which usually doesn't happen due to shame and secrecy) will be when that baby is born. I'm not being sensational here---this is very much a reality in American hospitals.

Meanwhile, everyone is asking questions and the new parents are forced to confront what is male or female without any preparation.

What is it exactly that makes us male or female?

Our chromosomes?

Our genitals?

Our internal reproductive system?

All of the above?

Or, is it our gender which often has no dependency on any of the above and won't be discovered for a couple of years?

What goes wrong?

Sometimes, it is a chromosomal variation that puts someone into the realm of intersex. In those situations, no one may know for several years that gender, sex, and chromosomes don't always fall into a neat binary order. In most cases, it ends up leading to great distress to the parents if the person is still a child when it is discovered or to the person him or herself when they discover the secret as adults. Just like with the intersex births obvious at birth that cause a questioning of sex, so do the adults who discover the truth about themselves as an adult--who am I? Am I male or female? Am I really a product of my chromosomes?

There was a wonderful article in Redbook Magazine a few years back (not online---but email me if you want a copy) about what happens when the parents know but never tell the child. The woman in the article discovered that she was XY when she went back to college and did a karotype swab during a biology class. The results weren't quite what she expected.

There are 70+ variations in intersex that can occur and since I'm not a doctor, don't play one on the internet, and didn't sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night, I can't get into medical and variation specifics about each type of intersex out there but will attempt a quick overview.

The Not So Obvious

Briefly, on the chromosome side, you can have XXY, XXXY (mosaic--every cell in the body is different), XXO, XXXY, XYYY, XXYO. Many different results occur with chromosome variations and there is no way to illustrate them all short of a medical textbook. I know there are some here that fall into these categories and it would be best if they explained the hormones they take and why, if they so choose.

You can have female looking and female gendered people with XY genes and vice versa.

Some of the chromosome conditions cause genital differences, and some don't.

The Obvious

The newborn visual identification of male or female uses a very basic measurement.

A "standard-sized" clitoris is less than .9 cm at birth.

A `standard-sized" penis is longer than 2.5 cm stretched at birth.

Anyone born with a clitoris or penis that falls outside of these medically defined standards is subject to `intervention'.

If that happens, further tests will be done to determine the reproductive capabilities as a guide in how to proceed next. Another factor involves social issues as you will see.

How many people are we talking about?

A conservative estimate is one out of every 2000 infants is born intersex. That is, they have chromosomes and/or genital and/or reproductive variations that differ from what is considered medically standard male or female. Some estimates put the incidence of intersex births as high as one in every couple hundred births and others put it somewhere around one in every five thousand births.

Can it be `fixed'?

If the person has ovaries and a uterus, the doctors will usually go with female and simply do what is called "genital restoration or reconstruction" (I've tried to figure out for years what the hell is being restored/reconstructed but can't get my head around it)

If a person has testicular tissue that won't function as it should, they often go with female and surgically remove the testicular tissue. We normally call this castration but with intersex kids, it's called "genital reconstruction"

In some cases (such as with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) the testicular tissue should probably be removed at some before childhood if the child is identifying in as female due to the risk of unexpected virilization)

A boy born without a penis or with a very small one (less than 2.5cms stretched at birth) will sometimes be surgically sex-reassigned as female on the assumption that he will never feel like a real man without a penis big enough for heterosexual, penetrative intercourse. He may even have had functioning testes before surgery was performed.
A well-known surgeon (Gearhart) remarked while giving a plenary speech a number of years back, "It is easier to dig a hole than it is to build a pole".

Medical technology has yet to provide a way to surgically create a penis in an infant that will grow with his body but advances are being made.

Dr. William Reiner, a researcher with both a doctorate in pediatric urology and psychology at Oklahoma State University has been studying kids who were surgically reassigned female as infants and has written a number of papers. His research has indicated a good number of these children reclaim their male identity, usually during puberty. If you google him, you find even more stuff about his work than I could possibly post.

And what should we do with the XX girls?

In a girl with a uterus and ovaries, a `large clitoris' is usually reduced in size with surgery.

Up until the late 80's, full clitorectomies were routine however, the surgeons who do these surgeries (pediatric urologists) claim to have refined their "technique". It's a Catch-22 however. They do the clitoral surgeries on infants and there is no way to follow up until she becomes an adult. By then, any studies are meaningless because `technique' has changed again.

Common practice these days removes the erectile tissue while leaving the tip connected to the nerve bundle (even though there is no precise research out there yet showing just how extensive that nerve bundle is--the research there is available shows how far into the body the clitoris nerves go, but nothing yet on the actual physiology of the external part of the clitoris itself) and then sewing the tip back onto the small bit of nerves left and calling it a `restored clitoris'.

Here's a picture to better illustrate what I am talking about (sensitive ones---close your eyes and scroll down a bit)

To put this into perspective for unaffected men, it would be like removing all of your erectile tissue from your penis and then sewing the tip of your penis back onto the base of it.

This is almost always cosmetic surgery. There are very rare occasions where there are genital obstructions and those can be life-threatening; however, even those cases, fixing the medical problem will include `cosmetic restoration' since the baby is already under anesthesia.

The main reasons for this cosmetic surgery are truly social---the commonly held medical belief is she will be a lesbian without surgery, she will have gender issues, no man will accept her as she is, she'll be teased in school, and she'll never want to partake in sports.

Little thought is given to what the girl may want when she grows up---her clitoris is literally out of her hands by this time (no pun intended) and what is done is done because there is no surgery to undo it.

Many women who had this done report being in-orgasmic, uninterested in sex, have relationship problems, and incontinent. XX women with born with a large clitoris, regardless of surgical status, report as lesbian or bisexual more than their unaffected sisters do. A larger percentage has transitioned to male, regardless of surgical status, compared to their unaffected sisters and the unaffected population.

Other genital mutilations that take place in modern hospitals include surgeries to insure a boy can stand to pee. After all, a real boy/man doesn't sit to pee, does he?

Hypospadius is a common condition that affects boys where the hole on the penis comes out somewhere on the penis other than the tip. It might be mild---near the tip, or it might be more severe and come out near the base. Sometimes there are many holes. Many males with hypospadius undergo several surgeries in an attempt to fix it with the most common reason being so they can stand to pee. After awhile, the number of those surgeries and the resulting scar tissue gives the person a penis that hurts like hell when it is erect or has little feeling in it.

A few years ago I did a debate panel with one of the doctors that is famous for these surgeries and practically fell out of my chair when he confirmed to me upon questioning that the main reason is so they can stand to pee! Can you imagine your otherwise functioning penis being sacrificed to numerous surgeries (each one leaving scar tissue) so you can stand to pee?!

One common thread in these surgeries is stunning not in the brutality, but in the secrecy.

Many of those that had surgeries like I describe above are never told about them.

Current medical reasoning pushes these surgeries during infancy on the assumption the person will never remember. It implies that the person will never be told and will never realize what occurred, if they are lucky.

For some reason, the American Pediatric Assc doesn't seem to get that the child will remember the genital exams, will eventually recognize the scars, and may one day be prompted to request their medical records.

I found out my own history when I was 35 and I got those medical records.

I stopped reading them when I hit page two and it said, "The clitoris was amputated to the nub". It was several months before I picked them up again. Even now, years after reading those words on that yellowed paper, years after talking to my mom about before she died with all the knowledge I was unable to drag out from her, I damn near have a mental breakdown typing them--not because it happened but because there was a unified front to keep that truth from me while I went through all the other shit we all go through growing up and becoming sexual human beings.

Even now 2005, whether or not to disclose a medical diagnosis to the person affected is still being debated; thankfully, the proponents of lying and secrecy are quickly losing to the voices in favor of full disclosure.

Words Can Hurt

I can't end this diary without a note about language:

Many times you will hear people talk about hermaphrodites. Get that word out of your head right now before you are tempted to use it.

It's misleading and based upon the Greek myth of Hermaphroditus. Humans do not have both female and male sex organs. It's biologically impossible.

Ovaries and testes come from the same tissue, the clitoris and penis comes from the same tissue and so on.

Humans can be born with a mixture of both male and female tissue...that is, may have some testicular tissue on one side of their abdomen and ovarian tissue on the other, may have an ambiguous mixture of female and male genitals, and may have a mix of male and female chromosomes. In the situation of someone with XXYY chromosomes, the medical diagnosis is "true hermaphroditism" but it doesn't mean two full sets of genitals on a person able to reproduce themselves.

Just don't use hermaphrodite---we are neither snails nor worms and for many, it's analogous to the N word. We may use it privately amongst ourselves or to make a point (i.e. Hermaphrodites with Attitude) but it is generally frowned upon and considered a slur.

The commonly accepted language is currently intersex.

Some people in the population hate that word too, though. I heard DSD---"Disorders of Sexual Differentiation" recently at the American Psychological Conference where I did a presentation. That description kind of sucks too...disordered? What the fuck? So, yeah...our language is still being worked out.

Ditto for intersexual. Beyond the creepiness of it, it is stigmatizing and a misleading label.

Most people with intersex identify in the binary---male or female or as an intersex person who identifies as male (or female) and some identify just as intersex. If you are not sure, just ask.

Time Magazine did a big article in March, 2005 which called those with intersex "intersexuals". The community was in an uproar over it. I was pissed because I had spent hours with the reporter talking about language and it became obvious she wasn't paying attention. To make matters worse, I sourced the entire article for her and she didn't even mention our website!

Intersexuality is an equally bad word. It's not a behavior.

Suggestions include intersexed, intersexed person, or a person with intersex if there is a compelling reason to make note of it.

i.e.: Janet is an intersexed person. Janet is intersexed and identifies as female. Janet is a woman with an intersex condition (preferred by most in my experience).

Resources to learn more:

NY Times article on intersex

Radio Times interview about intersex Search for intersex to find the interview (60 minutes).

Bodies Like Ours-mostly peer support for intersex but lots of good information too

Wikipedia

Genital development in fetuses

Not online but worthwhile to hunt down:

In the Life: American Gender "Size Matters"(in reruns occasionally on your local PBS station unless they are one that censored it because I say clitoris and penis in it)

Poll

What makes us male or female?
Chromosomes
Genitals
Internal reproductive organs
All of the above
None of the above
It's a gender thing

Votes: 234

Results

::

Other Polls

Tags: sex, LGBT, Bill Reiner, genital mutilation, gender (all tags)

Display:

Permalink | 269 comments

lovely diary. (4.00 / 5)

Remember seeing a documentary on tv in which a person talked about having had surgery after surgery aimed at producing the perfect penis the doctors thought was necessary, and all those painful surgeries not leading to that goal.

Shows also how ridiculous it is that gender orders our society so much, that the first question people are asked about a new baby is "boy or girl?" Only time I haven't heard that one was when my cousin had a black baby and nobody in the family bothered to find out - race trumping gender yet again. Otherwise, though, always "boy or girl?" when the reality may not be a perfect mirror of what people think when it comes to those categories. We need to be a little more flexible here, you know?

by MissLaura on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:13:32 AM PDT

that is a friend of mine (4.00 / 17)

If it is the documentary I think you are writing about---16 to be precise. The scar tissue is horrible and hurts real bad from what he told me, and what other men with hypospadius have told me. And all so he could stand to pee like a real man.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:22:52 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Don't remember what documentary, (none / 0)

something I came on flipping channels. He was very articulate. I think about how awful surgery is, when the only little surgeries I've had have been my choice, undertaken having fully considered the pros and cons, and how it would be to spend your childhood always recovering from or getting ready for a surgery. Just dreadful, torture really. All to fit people into these narrow, restrictive views of what sex and gender are and how they have to show just exactly so on the surface.

by MissLaura on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:34:23 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

my story (4.00 / 10)

Infancy--three surgeries.

Age 14 to 15...birthday spent in hospital having vagina #1 badly constructed. No bike riding for me for several months even though it really was the only way to get around my small town.

Age 18-19 (and again over my b-day) to correct the first vaginal surgery and remove scar tissue. Thankfully, this one at least got the hole right enough to use a tampon and I thank my lucky stars that I am a lesbian and past lovers and now my future wife is okay with all that scar tissue between my legs.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:51:17 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

tvb, the bravest diary I have read at Kos (4.00 / 2)

Thank you for your true courage in sharing such intimate details of your life with us.

I've read about this practice. You might contact Jerome Groopman, he is a physician at Harvard Medical School who also writes medical essays for the New Yorker. I think he'd be very moved by your story.

http://www.epluribusmedia.org/donate.htm

by nyceve on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:01:31 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Thanks tvb (4.00 / 6)

Recommended.

This is a way of being human that I don't know much about . . . I'm going to check the links you provided and hopefully learn more.

As for words. It is good for a communinty to let "the rest of us" (notice how fast the divisions spuriously start) know what is not hurtful or inappropriate.

Anyway, excellently written. (And yes, the photo was rough. I'm a scardy-cat about surgery-photos.)

"In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

by LithiumCola on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:26:21 AM PDT

It is (4.00 / 3)

a rough photo..and I hesitated about including it. I hesitated for a week about it because I also have to before photo.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:41:51 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Looks like (none / 1)

"Bodies Like Ours" is a great site. Straightforward and no bull**.

"In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

by LithiumCola on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:49:08 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Thank you (4.00 / 2)

We are a pretty popular site for many because we don't align ourselves with anyone other than those that have survived the gendercide.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:56:15 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I think... (none / 0)

It was both appropriate and helpful. The (pardon my phrasing) gruesomeness is really required to get the brutality of this practice across--something J. Random Offthestreet often has a hard time understanding.

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:30:49 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Difficult subject (none / 1)

Thank you for raising the issue. I had no idea this was so common.

by jlynne on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:36:39 AM PDT

I'm glad that people are raising voices (4.00 / 7)

because this sort of thing still seems to be done without reflection or apology.

As an aside, I did not want my son circumcised and caught flak from everyone--even the nurse's aides in the hospital. All because I am one of the minority who do not care to circumcise. I can't bein to imagine what kind of ignorance andpressure are at work with intersex children. It makes me want to cry.

My condolences to tvb . . . wish you and others like you had been left intact. Keep speaking out and help the ones yet to be born.

-8.38, -7.13 Soapblox/Chicago, for progressive Midwesterners

by rhubarb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:05:40 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

good for you (4.00 / 5)

We did not circumcise either, but every nurse that checked on us mentioned this in a positive way (e.g. one saying to my son as she checked his heartbeat, "Aren't you a lucky one..." while another thanked us outright). I'm sorry you caught flak. Nowadays there are nurses who are "conscientious objectors" and refuse to participate in circumcision. Also, you would no longer be in the minority in the western US.

Circumcision also constitutes surgery without consent. I don't understand how it is legal, since supposedly there can be no "proxy informed consent" for non-therapeutic procedures. The AMA and the AAP do not recommend routine infant circumcision and do not consider it a therapeutic procedure. But then, this diary proves that informed consent is not much of a concern for mainstream medicine.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

by vinifera on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:16:52 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Good for you! (4.00 / 4)

Every since I found out the purported reason it was done to me, and I figured out that I was in a country where that "reason" was obviated by ready access to soap and water, I've been pissed off. (Though not at my birth mother. At that time, 1954, circumcision was consented to on one of the many hospital admittance forms a mother signed, and the matter wasn't even discussed.)

"We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

by greeseyparrot on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:27:21 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

The *real* reason (4.00 / 5)

that isn't often talked about

was to prevent masturbation.

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:12:59 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

The reason that it isn't talked about ... (none / 1)

... is that it didn't work. Ask any 13 year old circumcized male in America and you will probably hear a failure rate of about 1-4 times a day between the advent of puberty and getting a driver's licence!

by Roosevelt Democrat on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:38:52 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

True enough (none / 0)

Why do you suppose it was seen as such a good solution back in the day?

What changed from a hundred years ago to today?

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:10:19 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

It wasn't just circumcision... (none / 0)

It was circumcision plus, basically, what amounted to several weeks of torture designed to make boys so ashamed, afraid of, and hurt by their genitalia that it would be impossible for them to treat it sexually.

Of course that didn't work.

It was suggested that circumcision should be performed at puberty, without anasthetic, and then salt should be rubbed into the wound by parents in order to re-enforce the "lesson".

Circumcison was used as "punishment" for masturbation. Go look up Kellog some time. He didn't just create a bland breakfast cereal. (The cereal, curiously enough, was also created with the goal of elimination masturbation.)

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:54:48 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

WOW! (none / 1)

Check this out... I can't frickin' believe it

As late as the 1970s, leading American medical textbooks still advocated routine circumcision as a way to prevent masturbation.

M. F. Campbell, "The Male Genital Tract and the Female Urethra," in Urology, eds. M. F. Campbell and J. H. Harrison, vol. 2, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1970),1836.

I thought that rational ended around the turn of the previous century.

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:20:56 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

and in 2000: (none / 1)

A policy statement released in July 2000 by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sex reassignment surgeries should be done on boys born with small penises: "The testes should be removed soon after birth in infants with partial androgen insensitivity or testicular dysgenesis in whom a very small phallus mandates a female sex of rearing."

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:16:03 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Holy Shit (none / 0)

I had no idea.

That is horrible.

How "small" is "small" according to these quacks?

by Dysfraxion on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:39:20 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

generally (none / 0)

Less than 2.5 cms stretched at birth.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 05:23:14 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

the "you'll go blind" rationale (none / 0)

In 1928 the AMA recommended routine circumcision to prevent masturbation, because they believed masturbation led to epilepsy, dementia, and blindness.

I just wonder whether the medical community also came up with the hairy palms thing....

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

by vinifera on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:41:12 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Color me naive. Sounds like... (none / 0)

I was completely misinformed or mislead due to embarrassment when I inquired as a kid. Virtually everyone I asked about the reason for the procedure, told me it was a matter of hygiene and preventing infection. Doh!

"We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

by greeseyparrot on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:13:04 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Oh, that's the EXCUSE... (none / 0)

But if you--you know--take a shower or otherwise clean yourself occassionally there's really no difference at all.

Don't forget that routine circumcision is actually pretty new. Although it has been practiced probably as long as there was society the US is actually a bit unusual in terms of overall trends. Any sort of argument that circumcision is natural and lack of it is somehow unnatural or dangerous must be viewed in light of the fact that--if i remember correctly--there are more men alive today who are uncircumcised than circumcised.

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:38:21 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 0)

circumcision is not as bad as it's cut out to be by some. I saw the editorial on the NYT yesterday that circucised men are 60% (!) less likely to get infected with HIV and to spread it. The editorial was saying that if a vaccine was found that could protect 70% of people infection, that we would be up in arms if it wasn't being used. Well it seems like circumcision is a great tool to use in Africa to stop the spread of HIV. I was circumcised and I have no recollection of the event, I do not feel like I was "mutillated," I don't know if I would circumcize a child of my own, but I certainly do not consider it a barbaric procedure.

I HATE REPUBLICANS, HATE HATE HATE THEM!!!!!!!!! UGHHHHH [-5.50, -4.69]

by michael1104 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:08:28 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Stop and think though (4.00 / 4)

If we could reduce the rate of breast cancer by 50% in this country by doing routine radical mastectomy on newborn girls, would it be justified?

Don't you think the owner of the penis ought to have a say as to whether part of it is cut away?

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:11:55 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

how can you (none / 0)

compare removing a foresking versus removing a breast? It's not a fair comparisson. Listen I agree in that there is an issue of consent, but we do a LOT of things to children without their consent. And I'm not saying I would get circumcized again if I had had a choice, but I'm not losing any sleep over it. And I really have never met another guy who remembers being circumcized or has had an emotional problem because of it. And if it can reduce the rate of HIV infection by over 60%, yes I am for it. A foreskin is not the equivalent of a breast.

I HATE REPUBLICANS, HATE HATE HATE THEM!!!!!!!!! UGHHHHH [-5.50, -4.69]

by michael1104 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:17:15 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

OK (none / 1)

I disagree with you but I appreciate your well thought out comments.

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:24:40 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I'm not sure that's the argument. (4.00 / 2)

I don't think the main objection to circumcision is that men remember it or feel emotionally traumatized before it. The big objections I've heard are 1) it's non-necessary surgery without consent, and 2) it dramatically reduces sexual pleasure (by removing so many nerve endings).

by Summer F on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:48:47 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I know (none / 0)

Those are good points, and like I said, If I could turn back time, I probably would have told my parents not to let the docs circumcise me (because I'm selfish and the pleasure thing makes me jealous) but other than that, I don't have a problem with it. I do not consider it a barabaric procedure, I don't consider it "wrong" or "cruel." I think a parent has to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of having the procedure done. In the case of the HIV infection rate, I think it's undeniable--studies have been done, and I think this should be considered in Africa as a very serious way to deal with the spread of HIV. Of course, we don't have the same rate of infection, we have condoms and use them, we have education, so not being circumcised is not a problem if you are careful, but in Africa, they don't have a choice, so I think circumcision should be an option there--it could be cruel, wrong and barbaric to not circumcise men in Africa.

I HATE REPUBLICANS, HATE HATE HATE THEM!!!!!!!!! UGHHHHH [-5.50, -4.69]

by michael1104 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:06:36 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Hey, there are studies that show (none / 0)

that uncirc'd men are less likely to recieve oral sex.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:56:28 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

studies show that 87% of studies are made up (none / 0)

Seriously, post a reference. Back your claims up.

(And what business do parents have worrying about the details of their kids sex lives?)

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:09:26 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

RE: Oral Sex (none / 0)

Are you just making shit up as you go along?

by Dysfraxion on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:32:43 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

It's an elective surgery... (none / 0)

Asked if I would rather not have had it done without my consent I respond the same way to the question "how would you feel if you were aborted?"

So I view it as a moral issue to be decided by parents. Male circumcision, based on entirely anecdotal evidence, is like a major body mod (piercings and such) functionally. The "sex correction" surgeries and female circumcision seem more risky and also involve loss of function. No reason why there can't be some sort of advocate assigned to discuss the issue with the parents and doctor so that an informed decision can be made.

Because as I understand it, the surgeries are usually intended for the child's benefit... the idea that if you "correct" something at birth the kid won't have to deal with it. Ugh, I dunno.

by f8free on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:05:12 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

You say sex is even better if you are not trimmed? (none / 0)

That's hard to believe :)

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

by bewert on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:59:15 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 0)

There are some studies that have shown that babies who have been circumsized are more pain senstitive than those who haven't.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:09:36 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Studies correlating circumcision (4.00 / 3)

with disease always end up being disproven. That no one ever seems to find it at least fishy that this procedure has religous roots AND involves a sexual organ always boggles my mind. It aint a coincidence people!

Anyway, for a fantastic article on all the reasons why we shouldn't be circumsizing boys, here is an extremely well-sourced and researched article from Mothering magazine

Here's an excerpt:

Today the reasons given for circumcision have been updated to play on contemporary fears and anxieties; but one day they, too, will be considered irrational. Now that such current excuses as the claim that this procedure prevents cancer and sexually transmitted diseases have been thoroughly discredited, circumcisers will undoubtedly invent new ones. But if circumcisers were really motivated by purely medical considerations, the procedure would have died out long ago, along with leeching, skull-drilling, and castration. The fact that it has not suggests that the compulsion to circumcise came first, the "reasons," later.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:08:10 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Do you vaccinate your kids? (none / 0)

Or do you think it should wait until they are adults?

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:55:29 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

It depends on the vaccination (none / 1)

I certainly don't just blindly do as told when it comes to vaccinating.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:10:43 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

But *you* are still making the decisions. (none / 0)

As parents, we have the right and the obligation to make these kinds of decisions for our children.

Your decisions may be different than mine. I don't have a problem with that. I do have a major problem with the attitude that everyone has to make the same choices.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:34:12 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Leaving my son's (4.00 / 4)

penis intact doesn't threaten his young life. Quite the opposite. In fact, given that you can't give proper pain medication and the risk involved in infection or maiming the penis, it strikes me as beyond foolish to do when the child is a newborn.

If he wants to be circumcized, he can make that decision as an adult. There is certainly no urgency in getting it done within days of birth. That is his decision not mine.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:53:31 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I agree! (none / 1)

Your decisions may be different than mine. I don't have a problem with that. I do have a major problem with the attitude that everyone has to make the same choices.

Amen! I get so tired of people criticizing me for trimming back the labia majoris of my newborn daughter. I have the right to make this sort of decision for my child. I am glad you recognize it.

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:16:52 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

How strange is that! (none / 0)

Sorry, but I can't think of a single reason why such an operation would be needed. That you found a surgeon to go along with you truely boggles my mind. On a newborn no less.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:43:03 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I was being sarcastic (4.00 / 2)

There is a federal law that would put me in jail for 5 years if I did something like that. And their ought to be one which protects boys too.

My point to the origional poster was that of course people will be telling her to not mutilate her baby's genitals. Any ethical person would.

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:50:01 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Oh sorry! (none / 1)

I thought after I posted that maybe you were trying to make a point. Seriously though, as sad as it might be, the idea of doing something like that to a newborn girl isn't so farfetched.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:54:36 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

My bad (none / 0)

I should have been more clear that it was sarcastic.

I can understand why you'd believe it though. People do strange things.

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:04:53 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

asdf (none / 0)

I was hoping (still am for that matter) that it was a snark.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:56:09 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

asdf (none / 0)

What do vaccinations have to do with genital integrity?

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:18:23 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

asdf (none / 0)

The point the OP was making was about consent. We all make lots of decisions for our children based on our own best judgement that they cannot consent to.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:28:12 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

ok (none / 1)

So think about it like rhinoplasty...do you think you would be allowed to choose a rhinoplasty for your infant because you think he or she has an extraordinary large nose?

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:57:54 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Yes, I think it should be up to the parents. (none / 0)

The parents and the doctors would be in more of a position to make such a decision than you or I in this hypothetical debate.

BTW, I like your tag line. Seems appropriate at the moment.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:26:29 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Hey, whatever (2.50 / 2)

you had unncessary cosmetic surgery performed on your infant boy's genitals.

No problem.

You changed his sexual functioning for life, possibly changed his brain (via two mechanisms: destructive release of stress hormones during circumsion, the most painful medical procedure that exists, and by possibly destroying neurons that respond to plasurable sensations from the nerve-endings in the foreskin).

You did it for, well, um, not very good reasons, but whatever. I guess if you think the appearance of a boy's genitalia need alteration, that's certainly your choice as a rather ignorant parent.

I hope that in 20 years or so, when he's sexually active, women won't be shocked that his parents had him cut - given that circ rates are falling in the US.

But anyway, nice job.

The Right is killing America

by grushka on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:50:48 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

What a jerk you are. (none / 0)

I didn't give bad ratings to the other people who disagree with me, even what what they said borders on the insulting. But you are getting personal and this is unacceptable.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:03:20 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I agree (none / 0)

The "ignorant" part was a bit much.

The facts though, were accurate.

If you have another boy in the future I hope you'll reconsider; and won't fall victim to the "we have to cut off part of his penis so he looks like his brother" argument.

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:06:35 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Obviously, you and I disagree on this subject. (none / 0)

While I feel comfortable with the decision that we made in conjuction with our son's pediatrician, I recognize that it isn't everyone's choice. That's fine by me.

I do not believe that the PP's facts are accurate. Moreover, I think that all these over-the-top arguments and comparisons with FGM ultimately serve to turn people off. Comes off like PETA, frankly.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:24:45 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

How would you feel (3.00 / 6)

if your clitoral hood had been removed at birth? Say, because your dad thought they were ugly.

Same exact physiology between the forskin and the cliteral hood, as well as the clit itself.

Again, I'm so glad YOU feel comfortable about cutting your baby's body without his consent, for utterly specious reasons.

You're a great parent.

The Right is killing America

by grushka on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:38:30 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

And you're an asshole. n/t (none / 1)

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:03:46 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

yes, he is acting like an asshole (4.00 / 2)

But he asks a very interesting question.

Would you be upset if your clitoral hood had been cut away when you were a baby?

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:09:09 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Oh, and regarding my "ignorant" comment: (4.00 / 2)

do you know what the frenulum is? Do you know what Meisner's corpuscles are?

Do you know what "gliding action" refers to?

If not, you are officially ignorant about the foreskin.

All of the above are key elements in sexual pleasure you had cut from your baby boy for NO reason.

He will NEVER know the full range of sexual sensation because of your ignorant decision.

That's your choice, as you said. But I won't stand by here and let you spout your pathetic "arguments" in favor of cutting the healthy genitals of new born boys.

The Right is killing America

by grushka on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:23:19 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Why won't you (none / 0)

reply to any of the questions that have been posed to you?

Oh.. BTW.. Check this out

http://www.sexuallymutilatedchild.org/sheldon.jpg

Personally, I think that anyone who cuts away part of a boys penis without his permission should have their genitals sliced and diced too.

by Dysfraxion on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:14:31 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I can't fucking believe (none / 1)

That there are monsters in here who actually admit to mutilating their baby's genitals... and DEFEND THEIR ACTIONS

Circumcision removes a piece of skin almost equivalent to a 3 x 5 index card.

I wonder if "Auntie" would mind if someone removed 3 x 5 inches of skin from her genitals.

It is telling that she refuses to answer such questions.

I look foward to the time when these people will be thrown into jail.

The sad thing is, I bet "Auntie" is pro-choice. Too fucking bad she never allowed her son to have a choice.

"Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity."

George Bernard Shaw

by Dysfraxion on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:31:38 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Yep (none / 1)

I'm not angry at my parents. A) I'm Jewish and B) I was born in 1969. Ain't no way I was getting away intact.

But I hold any parent today - with all the information available - totally responsible for mutilating their child.

And the medical establishment is beyond contempt in this matter.

I look forward to the day I have a son and leave him the way he was born. I also hope some doctor corners me and tries to persuade me to have him cut.

The Right is killing America

by grushka on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:38:30 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

likewise (none / 0)

Well, the kid is already here and uncut but I look forward to the day we don't even need to debate this stuff anymore and to the day when all children can grow up in the body they were born in without anyone cutting them to make the parents feel better.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:42:30 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Jewish *and* in 1969? (none / 1)

I am glad you have no anger. As you say, there was no way you were going to avoid it.

I give parents the benefit of the doubt all the way up to the early 1990s. After that time, any idiot capable of 15 minutes of research would see that circumcision is a horrible human rights violation that has no medical purpose.

by Dysfraxion on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:47:20 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Your previous rating of sbardell (none / 0)

Will you go and explain why you went around this diary and rated the diarist sbardell down, as say, in this comment, and others?

Gore 2008: Petition|Blog || Democracy Bonds

by NeuvoLiberal on Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 01:06:21 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

consent (none / 1)

The consent is on very fragile ethical grounds. In fact, if you read some of the legal papers surrounding it and the issue of genital cutting, you would find that if challenged by a young person, the parents and the physicians could both be held liable.

Here's a decent primer on the issue.

Later this year (next month I think) the Women's Law Journal, published by the Cardozo School of Law will be releasing a special intersex issue where this is addressed in more depth.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:16:12 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

asdf (none / 0)

When I bring up intersex, I try my best to not point fingers at the parents because I know often they have very little to work with and don't get the support and information they need to make an informed choice.

I wasn't always that way and used to really harp on the parents but as I've learned more from parents and the lack of choice they were given like not being told the vast majority of IS surgeries are cosmetic and doesn't need to be done, it doesn't make sense. I mostly feel sorry for them now because they didn't take the time and will only need to answer to their child why it was done.

I've also come to the conclusion from talking to parents on both sides of the issue that parents who choose IS surgery for their child probably don't like sex that much. I know it sounds simple minded but I base it upon what they tell me---like hearing an orgasm isn't all it's cracked up to be or hearing how they and their partner hardly ever have sex so they can't understand what the fuss is all about.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:39:04 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Different issue entirely. (none / 0)

Vaccination has highly established (inarguable, really) benefits and is otherwise almost entirely harmless.

Circumcision is (essentially) an elective, major cosmetic surgery with almost no (or straight-up no) demonstrable benefits and several major drawbacks, plus the chance of death or serious mutiliation thrown in for good measure.

The two are simply non-comparable.

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:59:14 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

yeah right. (4.00 / 2)

Sure, if you take a group of circumcised men who are all Muslim, and a group of uncircumcised men who are mostly animist or no religion and are far more likely to have extramarital sex, multiple partners, etc, then yeah, you can calculate a statistic to say that circumcision prevents HIV. You've mixed apples and oranges, and it's sheer bunk, but you can generate the number and make the claim.

The history of circumcision research is filled with stupid studies like this. Remember "it prevents penile cancer?" That study involved older men who were mostly uncircumcised and younger men who were mostly circumcised, and guess what, they did not control for age. Penile cancer occurs mostly after the age of 70, so if you ignore age in that data set, it looks like intact men get more cancer. Again, bunk statistics (and I say this as a biostats person).

In Egypt, where 97% of women are circumcised, over 80% are happy with being circumcised. The doctors and the women there claim that female circumcision prevents cervical cancer and STDs, that it doesn't affect sexual functioning, and that it's necessary because "What man could be attracted to an uncircumcised woman?" Basically we have the same situation here in the US, only with men.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

by vinifera on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:32:16 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

asdf (none / 0)

Here is the editorial, unless it's lying, I think it makes a pretty convincing case:

The South Africa study is the first to offer a high scientific standard of evidence that circumcision is responsible. The study, by French and South African researchers, recruited young men who were H.I.V.-negative and uncircumcised, as are most men in South Africa. Half were randomly assigned to be circumcised. After adjustment for other factors, circumcision reduced the risk of H.I.V. infection by two-thirds during the 21 months of the study. The difference was so great that the trial was stopped and the other men were immediately offered circumcision.
[...snip...]
Circumcision is no easy sell, but it is at least widely performed and accepted in Africa. If an AIDS vaccine were suddenly discovered that could prevent 7 out of 10 new infections, the world would be rejoicing. AIDS policy makers should be discussing how to promote circumcision so they can be ready to act immediately if the Kenya and Uganda studies confirm the good news in South Africa.

I think that is pretty convincing, I don't have a problem with not circumcizing, I really don't. I said before, I probably would have prefered it if I was left uncut, but I just don't think it's some barbaric practice, and apparently it has value in very high risk populations for HIV. And I do not condone female circumcision at all, THAT is a cruel practice, and it has no value whatsoever, and they don't do it when girls are newborns, they do it as a rite of passage when they are pre-teens, that is totally different.

I HATE REPUBLICANS, HATE HATE HATE THEM!!!!!!!!! UGHHHHH [-5.50, -4.69]

by michael1104 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:19:23 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

One study Michael (none / 1)

At this site there is a meta-analysis of 29 studies that included data. Check it out:

Summary: Thirty-five articles and a number of abstracts have been published in the medical literature looking at the relationship between male circumcision and HIV infection. Study designs have included geographical analysis, studies of high risk patients, partner studies and random population surveys. Most of the studies have been conducted in Africa. A meta-analysis was performed on the 29 published articles where data were available. When the raw data are combined, a man with a circumcised penis is at greater risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV than a man with a non-circumcised penis (odds ratio (OR)=1.06, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.01-1.12). Based on the studies published to date, recommending routine circumcision as a prophylactic measure to prevent HIV infection in Africa, or elsewhere, is scientifically unfounded.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:34:03 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

we'll (none / 0)

have to see what the Kenyan and Ugandan studies have to say. I'm not myopic here, if in the long run it proves unfounded then I'll start believing otherwise, but until then, I think the anti-circumcision crowd should also remain open minded. I still don't think it's cruel, but if it has no value whatsoever then there would be no point in doing it except for aesthetic value--which I'm fine with, because I don't think it's cruel and I don't remember this extraordinary pain inflicted on me when I was 2 days old.

I HATE REPUBLICANS, HATE HATE HATE THEM!!!!!!!!! UGHHHHH [-5.50, -4.69]

by michael1104 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:40:48 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Have you ever been to a circumcision? (4.00 / 2)

Have you head the howling? Seen the look of shock and bewilderment on tiny babies who have just been circumsized? No less at the hands of people in whom they have placed ALL their trust? It aint pretty. I've been to one circumcision ceremony. I aint going to another.

If this procedure was done to adult males held in prison camps, you'd better believe it'd be called cruel.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:45:12 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

And I can tell you right now (4.00 / 3)

that removing a baby girl's breast tissue at birth would save millions of lives. Ponder why that's NEVER going to happen.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:47:37 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

They won't be openminded. Not in their nature. (none / 1)

The most zealous among them remind me of religious fundamentalists. I can't stand the same "I know better than you about everything" attitudes of many leftie "natural" parents any more than the right-wing nut jobs who think we should all live the way they want. People have the right to make different choices, and this drives some people nuts.

Some of the parenting boards are downright crazy over this one. This conversation is pretty tame in comparison.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:35:26 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

so you support a to cut off a daughter's labia? (none / 1)

circ today is largely a social phenomemon. Studies have shown that it is motivated by parents' desire for a kid to be like his dad, and by female sexual preference.

So would it be OK to cut a girl for the same reasons?

Currently, [i][b]any[/b] non-necessary cutting[/i] of a female minor's genitalia is punishable at a federal level with 5 years of imprisonment and a $250K fine.

Do you think that the majority who support this law are like "religious fundamentalists" whom you "can't stand"?

(Oh, and I understand the difference between severe FGM and male circ...but that's not what the law forbids - the law forbids any female genital cutting).

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:58:18 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

enforcement (none / 1)

Intersex surgeries were specifically exempted out of the FGM law you cite, Tritium. The history of why it is will surprise many when I address it in a coming diary--it really needs it's own diary as it's complicated with some pretty outrageous issues around feminism (from when it was enacted---hopefully changing now)and medical practice as put forth by the AMA and Pediatrics Associations.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:05:12 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

intersex surgeries (none / 0)

The funny thing is that intersex surgeries don't seem to be exempted by the text of the law.

Look here.

female genital cutting is allowed if it is

necessary to the health of the person on whom it is performed, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner

But perhaps you know much more about the interpretation of the law. 'Necessary' is a malleable criterion.

Thanks for posting this diary, BTW. This is a very ugly subject (your description of reading your medical records made me sick to my stomach). Not to compare the severity of the two practices, but when you described how you felt when you read your records, I recognized the feeling that I felt when I learned about circ - sort of a sick feeling that parts of my body had been secretly cut off.

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:20:41 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

it's claimed (none / 0)

That the surgeries are necessary for social and mental health. The irony is few psychologists are enlisted in making that determination and there isn't one piece of evidence indicating a benefit to surgery.

I'm not an attorney and am only going by what I have read regarding the FGM law and the opinions of attorneys I've spoken to about it.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:21:11 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

You're proving my point with hyperbole n/t (none / 0)

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:28:02 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

no, not hyperbole (none / 1)

The labia are not necessary to female sexual pleasure or health.

There would be no crippling effect to trimming a female's labia - in fact, this is now a rather fashionable plastic surgery, even appearing on TV. Google for 'labiaplasty' if you don't believe me.

So I reiterate my question - would it be OK for parents to make the decision to trim their girl's labia? Currently, it will get you five years in jail.

What is really telling is the fact that you avoid this question, after loudly declaiming on the subject of parents' rights. Come on - if you claim that male circ and rhinoplasty are reasonable, why not labiaplasty? Why aren't you standing up for parental freedoms?

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:35:54 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Five years in jail (none / 0)

Are you sure about that? There's a poster upthread from here who said s/he had that surgery performed on her newborn.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:48:20 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

that above comment (none / 1)

was snark, i'm 99% sure.

-7.63, -7.03

by decafdyke on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:56:48 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

re five years (none / 0)

Look here. There is a jail term of up to 5 years for who[m]ever knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years if not medically necessary.

Actually, I think that this law will not survive scrutiny because it exceeds federal authority (10th amendment and all that). But I'm not a lawyer.

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:57:57 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I am genuinely curious (none / 0)

All of us who are opposed to circumcision have listed numerous reasons why we view it as a unnecessary, painful and risky procedure. In light of these arguments, I'm interested in knowing your reasons for defending it.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:50:38 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I can imagine two reasons.. (none / 0)

The first is that it would hurt to admit how painful it was for the child, and that there exist valid comparisons to mild/moderate (not severe) FGM.

The second is the feeling in the USA that normal males are freaks. It would be like males all of a sudden having to deal with a third female breast. This is one of the dominant motivations for FGM - it is the normal thing to do.

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:01:11 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I listed my reasons above. (none / 0)

In consultation with our pediatrician, we considered the pros and cons of circumcision and decided to have our son circ'd. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that it should be up to the parents. They acknowleges that there are benefits, such as decreased risk of cancer (which my sister-in-law, a nurse, sees routinely in uncir'd men,) UTIs and so forth. The research is not as one sided as you are presenting.

Frankly, I'm not "defending" anything other than my right as a parent to make the decisions that I feel are in the best interest of my son. And I'm done with this conversation.

No hard feelings, I hope we can discuss politics rationally if we encounter each other on different threads. But I'm not jumping into this fray again.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:19:53 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

not routine (none / 1)

Australian docs do not routinely recommend it.(1971)

Canadian docs reject it as routine also(1996)

Ditto for the docs in Finland(2003)

UK...in deep discussion about it.

United States...doesn't routinely recommend but allows it for the benefit of the parents and only at their request.

Information at Cirp

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:32:15 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

That's a distortion of AAP policy (none / 0)

In 1999, the AAP, a relatively conservative organization, concluded that there are potential benefits to circumcision. And in as gentle a way as possible, they did their best to steer parents away from routine circumcision:

The AAP's policy on circumcision states that the benefits are not significant enough for the AAP to recommend circumcision as a routine procedure.

In 2000, they ran an article in their journal that stated that risks outweight potential benefits:

A Trade-off Analysis of Routine Newborn Circumcision looks at the risks and benefits associated with circumcision, and concludes that while circumcision remains a relatively safe procedure, for some parents, the risks reported may outweigh the potential benefits. Based on their study of 354,297 newborn male infants, researchers determined that a complication could be expected in 1 out of every 476 circumcisions.

Though granted, they were mushy enough to backpedal somewhat with this editor's note:

EDITOR'S NOTE: This study was published in the supplement to the January issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the Academy.

If you have research that refutes the numerous links I've provided, I'd be happy to look at it.

And while parents can now legally make this decision for their children, my hope is that someday this horribly painful procedure will be made as illegal as any other unneeded newborn genital surgery. Already many insurance companies will no longer pay for circumcisions(understandable given the high risk of complication).

That being said, I don't take this argument personally. Clearly we are at the point where we are going to have to agree to disagree.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:05:00 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

frequently sees cancer? (none / 1)

I find it hard to believe your sister frequently sees cancer in uncircumcised men when the lifetime risk is 1 in 100,000. Your sister must see one hell of a lot of patients.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

by vinifera on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:25:03 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

No Auntie Mame (4.00 / 3)

just prefers making shit up to support her decision regarding her son's penis. Whatever helps her sleep at night.

by sanchez96 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:39:08 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

And the name sucks! (none / 0)

As in:

"I knew Auntie Mame,
I've camped it up with Auntie Mame,
She was a friend of mine.

AND YOU'RE NO AUNTIE MAME!"

Look, I know you're allowed to adopt any nom de snark you like around here, including revered madcap gay icons, but I really resent this one.

Besides, she sounds a lot more like Mommie Dearest than Auntie Mame if you ask me (and even if you don't).

Tim LaHaye can kiss my "left behind"

by homogenius on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 09:55:39 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

The "1" (1.00 / 3)

is for playing the ratings game.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:00:54 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

The 1 is for playing the ratings game (none / 1)

and electing to insult people rather than post facts and studies that support your position.

You accuse of people of being 'fundamentalists' but you fail to support any scientific studies that support your position - eg, that circ is not cruel and painful. When people post studies to the contrary, you ignore them and continue with your arguments.

This is very much unproductivce.

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:05:16 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

attraction (none / 0)

Your point on "what woman would be attracted?" is the same we here from those who think IS surgery is a fine idea or should be the parents choice---that what man would be attracted to a women with a big clitoris?

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:59:57 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I question whether you are in the minority (4.00 / 3)

Are in a small town or something?
What a strange reaction.

My wife and I have decided to not circumcise our soon-to-be son. All of my other male friends are also chosing that path. (Despite the frequent "but, he won't look like you" argument you hear in the media)

Back in days when sanitation and personal hygene were seriously lacking, circumcision was truly a great idea.
It just doesn't make any sense in the 21st century.

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:08:52 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I live in NW Wisconsin (none / 1)

and I had heard that the circ frequency is 80%

My OB-GYN said more like 95%.

My son's pediatrician praised us for not circumcising, but no one else.

I think the Midwest is a "dead ender" with respect to circ.

-8.38, -7.13 Soapblox/Chicago, for progressive Midwesterners

by rhubarb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:07:15 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

circ rates (none / 1)

Can be found at the cirp website.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:07:17 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I brought up circumcision once here... (4.00 / 2)

and was blasted for it by some.

I'm cut, and as far as I can tell everything works fine, but it seems like such a goddamn ridiculous ritual, rooted in an archaic religious tradition that has no place in a first world society of the 21st century.

I don't lose sleep over it or anything, but every time a sexually related discussion like this comes up I can't help but remember that I'm not quite "complete."

Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Sometimes they run for President.

by Sixfortyfive on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:44:52 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

me too. (4.00 / 3)

Someone was saying it wasn't barbaric and I described the procedure. I tried to be as brief as possible but I was accused of being inflammatory. The reaction was, to say the least, negative. Yet how can you educate anyone about how cruel it really is without explaining the process?

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

by vinifera on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:40:55 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Calling it cruel can sure seem to be inflamatory (none / 0)

Although nothing compared to what I've read on parenting boards.

My son is circumcised, for lots of reasons. I'm not sorry we did it and I don't believe it was cruel of us to do so. You have every right to disagree, but you can't call something "cruel" and then not understand why you may be called inflammatory.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:53:02 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I try to stay cool-handed with language... (4.00 / 2)

but putting a child through unnecessary surgery without his or her consent rubs me in all the wrong ways, and it's hard to keep myself from exploding when the topic comes up.

I don't know you or your son. I'm sure his well-being is of upmost importance for you. I'm probably as militant over this as a lot of women on this site are over abortion. I have a deep resentment when it comes to other people having control over my body, cultural norms be damned.

Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Sometimes they run for President.

by Sixfortyfive on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:04:19 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

How do you feel about ear piercing on infants? (none / 0)

"And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

by madaprn on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 05:22:46 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

How else would you describe it? (4.00 / 2)

It is an EXTREMELY painful procedure. the head of the penis is literally ripped away from the glans, and outside of a topical, the newborn receives NO pain medication either following the operation or in the days to follow. And all of this happens within days of the baby's arrival in the world, coming from a peaceful, warm and pain-free environment.

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:16:07 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

do you (none / 0)

know of any man who remembers this "extremely painful" procedure? I sure don't.

I HATE REPUBLICANS, HATE HATE HATE THEM!!!!!!!!! UGHHHHH [-5.50, -4.69]

by michael1104 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:22:40 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

neither do I n/t (none / 0)

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:29:54 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

not remembering (none / 1)

Ignores the issue of scar tissue, future problems due to surgery, and in the case of an IS person, frequent genital exams.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:08:45 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Of course they don't (4.00 / 2)

They were newborns who were only days old when it occurred. A baby that age wouldn't remember getting his arm sawed off. However, just because a person doesn't remember it, doesn't mean the procedure doesn't have long-lasting effects.

It is a risky surgery and we're still researching some of the negative side affects. Why take the chance of removing something that evolution has chosen for again and again over the millions of years of our development?

by JaneKnowles on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:41:10 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

As amother of a baby boy (4.00 / 3)

I could not have born seeing him in pain after such an operation. And as a future nurse, I refuse to have anything to do with circumcisions. The adult may not remember them, but what about that brand new baby? It's rough enough to be pushed out into the cold, bright, loud world without having one's glans skinned. As a woman, I know how excruciating lesser injuries are in that region. I just can't imagine what agony a newly circumcised baby boy is in.

And while it is legal, knowing that a parent finds this practice hardly worth a blithe shrug really prejudices me against him.

-8.38, -7.13 Soapblox/Chicago, for progressive Midwesterners

by rhubarb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:31:12 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

something my mother told (none / 0)

Was that after my clitoris was amputated from me, I refused to acknowledge the people in white coats. I apparently had simply shut down to them to them to such an extent they thought I was deaf. My medical records support this memory she had.

It's incredible thinking about that because I was only an infant! So, yes, I do believe the infant knows and remembers.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:47:39 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Do you (none / 0)

ever feel rageful for what was done to you?
Are you able to experience full sexual pleasures?

by Dysfraxion on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:29:51 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

at times (4.00 / 3)

When I was younger I was resentful, pissed beyond description, and very angry at my parents.

I actually didn't discover what was different about me until the first time I had sex with another woman because it waas never explained to me in detail. I was horrified by it and it did quite a bit of damage to me pyschologically. There were always tons of genital exams but I thought that was pretty normal for all kids.

Therapy and self-education was incredibly helpful and I'm past that, thankfully. It became a matter of accepting what was done and education about why it occurred. I then learned to love myself and forgive my parents once my mom told me how little she knew about their situation and how they thought it was for the best because that's what the doctors told her.

As far as sex goes, I've learned to compensate quite well. The comfort I now have in my body and the ability to be able to talk it about has rewarded me quite well. As long as my partner is comfortable with it (she is and then some), all is fine and I am able to orgasm most of the time.

The adaptation I was forced to undergo by my lot in life has even given me the ability to orgasm without stimulation of any kind beyond my brain. Something like 2% of women can do it and I am grateful I found myself in that minority. Without sounding too weird on it, it kind of enters the realm of the missing limb where the feelings are still there if you are able to recognize them.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:26:07 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

withdrawal as coping mechanism (4.00 / 3)

My understanding is that infants have basically only one coping mechanism, withdrawal. As we get older we develop several others; I think there are maybe a dozen or so defined coping mechanisms in clinical psychology. But if you experience trauma, you can become "stuck" in a particular (immature or early) coping mechanism, at least in certain contexts. So I think it's telling that you seemed to withdraw from anyone in a white coat.

What's sickening is when people cite the babies who don't cry as evidence that circumcision is not painful. Either these babies are in physical shock, or they are practicing an extreme form of withdrawal. I always wonder whether such babies will be able to have any sort of bonding with their mothers.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

by vinifera on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:15:42 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I do. (none / 0)

And a number who have "phantom pains" from the procedure.

Mind you, most people refuse to even discuss the effects of circumcision; let alone admit to something like that.

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:10:32 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Removing 10K nerve endings (4.00 / 3)

from a human's genatalia for no reasonable medical need is cruel.

by sanchez96 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:27:53 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I am curious (4.00 / 5)

did you watch the procedure?

If not, here's what took place.

http://www.medscape.com/content/2003/00/45/36/453637/art-adnc453637.fig1.jpg
http://www.circumcision.org/SCAN2.gif
http://www.fortunecity.com/millenium/sesame/177/mhbabysm.jpg
http://www.danheller.com/images/Topics/Circumcision/circumcision-08-big.jpg

Links = NSFW

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:50:26 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

cruelty of circumcision (none / 1)

There have been two studies that show that male circ without anesthesia (as it is usually done) causes pain severe enough to rewire the infants pain response so that 6 months later circ'ed infants show a stronger pain response to routine vaccinations.

They may not remember it like an adult would, but it does in effect rewire their nervous system on a long term basis, perhaps permanently.

These were very robust studies published in The Lancet, with the findings significant at the 99% and 99.9% statistical confidence levels.

http://www.cirp.org/library/pain/taddio/
http://www.cirp.org/library/pain/taddio2/

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:03:57 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

My dad was circumcised late in life (none / 0)

to please my mom, who'd been complaining forever.

After my first grandson was born (at home), there was much discussion about whether it should be done to him. I asked my dad what he thought. He said "Don't do it."

Visualize impeachment
(-7.38, -6.51) at politicalcompass.org

by BurnetO on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:44:14 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

thanks for broaching the subject (4.00 / 5)

silence is a powerful thing, and the space that surrounds an awkward subject dissuades potential allies from having the guts to think it through and reorient themselves to this new perspective. it really is food for thought, an aspect of life that i have never been exposed to, and thus all i ever heard were the rediculous discussions of hermaphrodites like locker room tall tales. thank you for bringing it up, and forcing me to take a second look at my assumptions.

oh, and for the poll, i'd say "other, a varied mix of all of the above." cultural gendered notions are huge, but it is in the way that gender interprets the varied and sometimes ambiguous physical facts of our bodies and hormones into a neat binary set of platonic forms that it becomes socially real. just the biology or the gender alone would not make sense to us in the same way that the interaction of the two do.

crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

by wu ming on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:37:40 AM PDT

My favorite intersexed person: (none / 0)

You don't need the standard mix of chromosomes to be sexy, smart, and successful. We're all human. That's all that matters.

Evil is genetic. Sterilize the Bush crime family.

by rjo on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:56:12 AM PDT

ummm, no (none / 0)

Virtually all photos you see of people on the internet are either photoshopped or transsexuals who didn't have bottom surgery. I know of a couple authentic ones out there but won't post them. This is not one of them.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:00:27 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

It's Jamie Lee Curtis (none / 0)

See this link at Snopes.

-6.88, -6.36

by lemuel on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:20:08 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

i always heard that about her (none / 0)

never knew if it was true. and i recognized the pic - True Lies!

See my blog at DailyGranola.com

by OrangeClouds115 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:07:51 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Yep. True Lies. (none / 0)

Sexiest Jamie Lee movie ever. Halloween boobie flashing's a close second.

Evil is genetic. Sterilize the Bush crime family.

by rjo on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:11:04 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

i'm a fan of (none / 0)

Trading Places. Not so much sexy as it is completely 100% great. I love the "I am Inge from Sveden" bit.

See my blog at DailyGranola.com

by OrangeClouds115 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:13:32 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I *hated* that movie. (none / 0)

If only the female %50 of the population could get taste in movies more in line with men...

Kung-Fu movies would be blockbusters.

Serenity wouldn't have flopped.

Bikini Car Wash Company 3 would have earned an Oscar.

Oh well. A man can dream.

Evil is genetic. Sterilize the Bush crime family.

by rjo on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:59:19 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

BCC 3?! (none / 0)

Wow, I thought the first one was good, and I thought the second was a horrible sequel, so I never thought the third would be any good! Is it really better than the first two?

by wierdo on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:31:07 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Snopes link (none / 0)

says that this rumor's status is "UNDETERMINED"

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:45:05 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I would have much rather have not known (none / 0)

What business is it of mine whatever the hell Jamie Lee has as her sexual makeup?

None. It should have been private for her.

I don't even know whatever the hell y'all are talking about anyway. It unsettles me to have Jamie knocked out of her female place in my mind; how on Earth could that incredible goddess not be female?

[shakes head] Life can be very tough--I feel bad for Jamie Lee or anyone who has to take it on with something like this too.

by paradox on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:17:59 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

If (none / 0)

If she really does have the rumored condition, which is "androgen insensitivity syndrome," those who have it can look VERY feminine in appearence. They are insensitive to androgens, right? So they have large breasts and good skin and all that. The irony is that we think of those characteristics as signaling "good breeder" and in this case it means the opposite.

it's dark in the goth house

by McJulie on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:41:15 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

The beautiful irony, though (none / 0)

is that Jamie Lee is widely considered to have one of the best bodies in Hollywood. When you see her doing the strip dance in True Lies, for example, that's actually her and not a body double.

She is also widely known to be an awesome person. My own little testament to this is one time when I was working at a major music venue here in LA and her assistant called saying Jamie wanted to buy VIP seats to a show and have backstage parking and hospitality and all that. Normally you expect a nice flower arrangement for something like that, but in addition to the flowers, Jamie called in person and thanked me, which is practically unheard of.

Whatever the situation with Jamie's chromosomes, she looks fantastic, and she knows how to behave. She's obviously top class.

by Loquatrix on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:12:27 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I know (none / 0)

but the parent post seemed to have no clue who the picture was or why someone posted it, so I thought I'd toss the Snopes thing out there. (It's all over the internet, really...I remember hearing about it years ago.)

-6.88, -6.36

by lemuel on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:16:01 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I did't recognize her (none / 0)

But it was late and since it was mentioned, I now do. I can pretty dense however, expecially at 3am.

Howerver, it's just an urban rumour on JLC. Until she herself decides to tell the world it is true or not, it remains as that...urban rumor.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:54:44 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Though This Is One Urban Myth / Rumor... (none / 1)

...that seems to have led to a lot of education.

I know that all I know about Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome comes from looking into this rumor when someone once brought it up at a party years ago.

Preserving the old ways from being abused/Protecting the new ways for me and for you/What more can we do

by GreenSooner on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:08:46 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

will catch-up in the am (4.00 / 2)

I'm used to lots of questions, so ask.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:07:59 AM PDT

Amazing diary -- brave, honest and informative (none / 0)

I am curious if you have read "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides. The narrator is an intersexed girl, and it's about her life and coming of age. Eugenides is a great writer, and he really builds sympathy for the plight of this person, her struggles and confusion. I'd really be interested in your take on it.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mohandas Gandhi

by trueblue illinois on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:49:16 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I was going (none / 0)

to mention Middlesex as well, since it was my first experience with the topic. Incredible book.

This is a fascinating diary. Thank you for sharing the important information with us. I look forward to the next installment.

by ides on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:52:10 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

most of it (none / 0)

yes...some of it, but not all. The history part was incredibly boring but book three covering Callie was pretty good. It was a fairly accurate portrayal of some of the emotions, particularly the coming of age stuff and it was a decent portrayal of what happens when someone has 5-ARD, considering the author claims no direct experience and made a point of remarking in an interview that he didn't interview any with intersex either.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:59:30 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Thanks for (none / 0)

weighing in. I wondered how accurate a portrayal Cal/Callie's life was. Good to know that Eugenides did it fairly well.

As for the history, I spent 5 years outside Detroit and found the history part of the city fascinating. An interest to me but I can understand how it might not be to everyone.

by ides on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:22:53 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Yes ... thanks for sharing your take (none / 0)

I'd enjoyed the book but wondered, as I often do when reading a novel, how accurate the characterization was. I really enjoyed the history part too -- my mother's side of the family is Greek, and one branch of the family is from Izmir/Smyrna, the same place Callie's grandparents are from. They too fled the Turks. And interestingly, there is some tradition of intermarriage on that side of the family as well. I have two Greek-American second cousins who married each other. They're my age (late 30s/early 40s) and have a couple of kids. As far as I know there are no genetic issues.

(My sister went to their wedding a few years ago, and said it was wild because it was essentially one big family reunion! "Big Fat Greek Wedding" indeed ...)

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mohandas Gandhi

by trueblue illinois on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:42:23 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

5ard (none / 0)

Is often related to 'inbreeding' (for lack of a better word)

It tends to turn up in populations are that isolated to the point where everyone eventually becomes related or in communities where people tend to marry others of the same ethnic background and neighborhood.

It's not necessarily cousins having sex with cousins on an knowing basis but simply because the breeding pool becomes small.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:11:33 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

What is your opinion (none / 0)

on routine circumcision?

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:14:18 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

against it (none / 1)

Because it is unnecessary. I generally don't get into the circ issue because the anti-circ movement is very strong and does a great job in what they do. However, we do align ourselves in our goals of preserving genital integrity for all children.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:01:02 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I guess I'm wondering (none / 0)

about the internal organs. What happens if the person is born with what they consider a small penis (less than the 2.5 cm)...does the baby already have the internal organs? I guess what I'm saying is...if there is no uterus and the penis is considered too small, do they leave the child alone, or is there some way to create a uterus?

I feel really dumb for asking this...I guess I thought that the internal organs were already developed at birth...I didn't really think they created them. I had no idea this was so common.

-8.28, -8.21

by Elise on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:52:26 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

not a dumb question (none / 1)

There are an incredible number of different variations and each one is different with different results. Much of it depends upon the cause of the intersex condition itself.

Many with simply a small penis do have testes and other parts of standard male internal anatomy. Same with girls with a big clitoris--they may have functioning internal organs. For instance, in my case, I have a uterus and ovaries and am fertile but the CAH I was born with caused me to also have a big clitoris and fused vagina.

Some are born with remnants of both male and female---that is, ovarian streak tissue on one side and testicular streak tissue on the other side.

One thing that doesn't happen is two full sets of internal organs.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:06:29 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I see. (none / 0)

I think this is an interesting topic....it is something I don't know much about...although I'll admit that I have thought deeply about what makes someone "male" or "female"...and honestly I've never come up with an answer I like. There are always exceptions that don't figure in. Mostly I guess I would answer that it is the internal organs...but then the hormones could be different, or something like that.

-8.28, -8.21

by Elise on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:19:15 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

interesting (none / 1)

this was touched on in a women's studies class I took a few years back.
I always wondered what the hell happened to all of those children who grew up without knowing. It sounded like a recipe for disaster to me at the time.

See my blog at DailyGranola.com

by OrangeClouds115 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:14:24 AM PDT

Apparently so . . . (none / 1)

tvb uses the word "gendercide" . . . I hope she continues with the diaries.

"In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

by LithiumCola on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:18:01 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

To answer your poll (none / 1)

"male" and "female" are too broad a term to narrow down to your choices.

Certainly the presence of a Y chromosome is considered "male" in a genetypic sense. The absence, female.

In the phenotype, lots of things can happen...there is a spectrum. Probably the biologically relevant categories would be a matrix of "can reproduce by adding sperm" "can reproduce by providing sperm" "infertile" and "can reproduce both ways". I don't think divvying up infertiles into further categories makes sense biologically; I believe in functional definitions wherever possible.

Socially, how a person views themselves is how we should assign sex (called "gender" nowadays since "sex" is short for sexual intercourse). They could view themselves in one category or another, or just on the spectrum, and they can choose what word to use. Sensitivity to that would eliminate the checkboxes for male and female on forms, and Mr/Ms. etc. Why are those necessary anymore anyway? (Oh yeah, we also need to get rid of "husband" and "wife".)

Increased awareness of this issue is a good thing. It could arguably be made a part of standard pre-natal counseling. Karyotyping is pretty easy and parents-to-be might choose to get it before mating to get an idea of what might happen. But that line of thinking can lead to embryonic screening which is controversial.

The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

by peeder on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:40:14 AM PDT

Actually that's a good question: Mr, Ms, what? (4.00 / 3)

In English when we address someone, especially over the phone, we say "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones". We have shed "Mrs." and "Miss" and it's painful to say "Master" to a boy.

If you're intersex, and identify as neither, is there an alternative? Would you tell someone to just say your first name? Your last name? Is there a "Msr." or "M." or something else?

Can we move to general gender-nuetrality with such salutations? We did move to marriage-neutrality after all.

The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

by peeder on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:52:16 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I'm not intersex... (4.00 / 3)

...but identify as gender-variant. From the point of view of some, I'm transsexual (male-to-female). But people don't stop developing intellectually and emotionally just because they have had sex-change surgery.

I have been known to ask people not to refer to me as Mr. I will acknowledge salutations involving Ms. or Miss, though it's not what I give out. Fortunately, I have another alternative to fall back on: I'm Dr. Serven. Of course, not everybody has this escape route out of this linguistic social trap.

Words are an issue. As an exercise, spend a couple of days trying to write without using third-person pronouns (amongst my gender-variant friends, when it really can't be avoided, we often use s/he or sie and hir).

Most of us eventually grow beyond getting angry at inappropriate word choice, but we still appreciate it when someone acknowledges that there are problems and actually makes an effort.

Robyn

Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 11am EST

by rserven on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:00:52 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I'm just plain vanilla male, (4.00 / 5)

but I take umbrage at having to declare the information (one's "title") on most applications. I try and opt out whenever possible, but when registering at many websites, the declaration is listed as required and your app. simply won't be processed if you try to proceed without making a selection. I for one, just see it as tamping each of us a little more firmly into one of society's "acceptable" pigeonholes.

"We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

by greeseyparrot on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:00:42 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Good for you! (none / 1)

It is a pain in the behind to have to consider the ramifications of what label to choose everytime one turns around, let alone to always be reminded that one is different from normal, as if "normal" were a desireable objective. How boring would this world be if everyone in it were normal?

For what possible reason does anyone other than my partner need to know the state of my genitalia?

Robyn

Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 11am EST

by rserven on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:19:42 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Yes! (none / 0)

Argh!

Or the "gender" requirement.

What does it matter? All i want to do is register and post on your damn forum. You don't need to strip-search me, you jerks.

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:28:22 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

No Mrs. or Miss? (none / 1)

I dunno where you live, but if you listen to the schoolkids from my part of the country talk about their female teachers, it's really clear which ones are married and which ones aren't.

And I'm not from a "Red State"

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:47:14 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

And childhood indoctrination comes as a (4.00 / 2)

surprise?

The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

by peeder on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:49:40 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Nope, just a counter-example (none / 1)

I was responding to your statement:

"We did move to marriage-neutrality after all"

I don't believe that is true. We are moving towards marriage neutrality, but we are nowhere near being there yet.

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:26:01 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

(And my point was that (none / 0)

a significant mechanism behind the inertia is childhood indoctrination in the schools...Cheers bartman)

The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

by peeder on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:16:38 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Oh. Cool. (none / 0)

:)

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:39:17 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

it was oversimplified (4.00 / 2)

But I was trying to keep it simple. Most with intersex identify as male or female and if they don't the often will for at least public purposes because otherwise you are constantly outing yourself on the fly and having to do quick 101s because the binary is so solidified in most cultures.

In my case, unless I know for certain what gender someone identifies as, I generally try to avoid pronouns. I use their first names or if I am speaking for instance, I call on the "person in blue" sted of the woman or man in blue.

Some also use the title of Mx.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:08:46 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I like that: Mx. Pronounced "Mix"? (none / 1)

And "mix" is an apt description, perhaps.

I might even start using that. Here in SF, it's often quite applicable.

The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

by peeder on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:49:18 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

that's correct (none / 1)

And how it is pronounced.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:51:51 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I'm gender-ambiguous... (none / 0)

But not going to get into me, specifically.

There is no widely accepted gender-neutral, general use title. There are some proposals, but nothing that has really caught on.

There are some titles that are ambiguous--like "doctor", a title which alone has inspired many people of ambiguous gender/sex to acquire PhDs in and of itself--but nothing for general use.

If in doubt: ask for a preference. If possible: don't use one at all. Substituting a full name (or even initial + last name, ie "J. Random") sounds formal enough for most occassions.

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:22:03 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

thanks for writing this (4.00 / 3)

I have no personal connection to it (I think...) but since I learned about all this some ten years ago, especially about the staggering number of surgeries performed, often without consent, I've made a point of telling people about it whenever I get a chance. It's one of the worst 'dirty secrets' left in our society. Talking about it openly, and making an intersexed condition a 'normal' way to be, is the only way to improve things and end this awful abuse of modern medicine.

If you have friends who are expecting a baby, I suggest you bring this up. People do a lot of talking and preparation for many other things that parents may have to deal with that have incidence rates lower than one per thousand. There's no reason not to talk about this one as well.

--
Blogs will matter when we act locally: Local Diaries on Daily Kos.

by miholo on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:14:25 AM PDT

thanks (none / 1)

I can't tell you how many times friends who are expecting will broach the topic with their doctor and thank me for bringing attention to the fact that it does happen.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:09:46 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

tvb, thank you (4.00 / 5)

My mother, now retired, worked in ob/gyn as an RN for many years. She'd occasionally come home from work and mention that a baby had been born that they didn't know the sex. Or teenage girls coming in for
surgery, girls with half an ovary and no uterus or vagina. Or a girl who looked masculine and it was discovered that there were testes instead of ovaries inside, but outwardly was female.
What appalled her was the nonchalance of the other staff when she'd inquire, "Is this person getting support and counseling?" That bothered her.
That surgery must have sucked. I cannot imagine going through such an ordeal at 14, TVB. Your body is such a personal thing and such a surgery must have been both physically and emotionally difficult.It doesn't sound like the sort of procedure you'd want your friends to know about at that age. You did the right thing by posting- for every person that is more aware of what intersex people endure, there will be a more hands-off approach instead of "fixing" infants to suit societal norms.
I have a question for you- do intersex children, if left alone, indentify with being either male or female or do they go back and forth? I keep thinking of how we indentify boys and girls- heck, kids are even lined up by gender in school hallways. My own kids are 16 and 19 and the older I get, the more I realize "they are who they are". My daughter loves physics and despises makeup- there is no way, nor would I want to, to make her into a perky cheerleader. I would like to think that if she was born intersex, I'd have not forced change upon her.
Excellent, excellent diary. Yes, the picture was hard to see but all I could think about was, What if that was me or mine?

Why did we bother to beat the Soviet Union if we were just going to become it? Molly Ivins

by offred on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:34:20 AM PDT

hey (none / 1)

some girls love physics AND makeup!
:)

"People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character."--Ralph Waldo Emerson

by rioduran on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:00:13 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

just like other kids (4.00 / 2)

Offred, kids left alone will usually start to identify in a gender before the age of 3, and like all kids without neurotic gender reinforcements, may go back and forth but once they hit kindergarten, gender is usually solidified pretty well.

One of the big problems occurs when parents follow a docs advice to do heavy reinforcement and it turns out to be wrong or worse, have done irreversible surgery and it turns out the wrong decision was made. Those may be the saddest situations of them all.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:13:09 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I keep remembering (4.00 / 2)

that sad case of the twin boys who were circumcised and there was some dreadful mishap and one baby's penis was burned so badly it fell off. The doctors insisted he could be "made" into a girl and so the child's testicles were removed, surgeries were endured, dresses worn, hair grown long, child was never told...
When I was in college (early 1980s), this case was brought up and at the time, it was touted as such a success, everything just dandy, gender is determined by society and not genes.
Good God, how ignorant the experts were. That poor child never felt like a little girl and his life was so hard and ended in suicide.
Thank you for letting me know about the back and forth before kindergarten. It would help for teachers to know this, to be more supportive.
Are parents of intersex children being directed toward the appropriate resources when their children are born? By appropriate, I mean the websites you linked to. The voice of experience, yours and others, is that of the real experts.

Why did we bother to beat the Soviet Union if we were just going to become it? Molly Ivins

by offred on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:01:10 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

rarely (4.00 / 2)

Support is usually not part of the plan--for either the parents nor the child, regardless of surgery. Almost all of it is patient created and the movement itself is led by those who have gone through it for the most part.

Things are slowly changing and I receive numerous inquiries from grad level students focusing on the issue, especially the pyschological side.

John Money and his sad legacy is part two of the series. There's much about him and how his theories of sex and gender have been disproven time and time again, yet what he promoted is still followed by many.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:22:33 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Great work - thank you (none / 1)

I have been aware of this issue for a long time, and really appreciate your frank and personal effort.
I look forward to everything else you bring to us.

by parryander on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:35:17 AM PDT

I thought this was about circumcision (none / 1)

based on the title of the diary.

Just stopped by to watch the brawl.

But it turned out to be a really interesting article about yet another of those issues which many people deal with, but no-one talks about.

Thanks for the diary.

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:50:13 AM PDT

it is about circumcision... (none / 1)

just REALLY REALLY REALLY EXTREME cicurmcision. I say that not because the "femanized" babies may have their engorging tissue on their "penis" removed to create a "clitoris" but because both this and circumcision are performed on infants without the consent and/or knowledge of most of their parents. In America, we routinely circumsize male babies, when there is genuine debate in the medical community as to whether it is "necessary" or even advisable, just like we automatically perform these surgeries. I think you sign a waver when you have a hospital birth that allows all this, but the terms sure don't get explained to prospective parents.

Is that consent? I don't think so...but thats a discussion for a legal post.

I have sworn upon the alter of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man

by TheGryphon on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:45:45 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

It's more than "extreme circumcision". (4.00 / 3)

The long-term psychological effects of routine male circumcision are fairly well-known, and in almost all cases minimal and benign.

That doesn't justify routine male circumcision, but it puts the sort of mutilation discussed here in a whole different league. Calling this "extreme circumcision" is like calling amputating an arm at the elbow "extreme nail-clipping".

He's Mister Truth Twister; He's Mister Hate. He's Mister Coke Sniffer; He's Mister Torture-Is-Great. They call me Shit Miser, whatever I touch...

by osterizer on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:57:35 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

extreme nail clipping! (none / 1)

LOL!

Thanks for my daily laugh

Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

by Irrelevant Prolixity on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:16:25 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Neither minimal nor benign (4.00 / 3)

If everyone in a society had one of their eyes removed at birth, they'd probably insist the same kind of thing. They'd defensively insist that having two eyes looks "ugly", and this "supposed stereoscopic vision" is "overrated". We have instituted a practice that has victimised several generations of men now, and about which most people are in complete denial.

-Alan

-9.00, -3.69

by SlackerInc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:38:09 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I don't dispute what you say, but: (none / 1)

I think you've misread my point -- I specifically said that the commonplaceness of circumcision doesn't justify it.

I don't entirely agree with your point that most people are "victimised" by circumcision and "in complete denial" about it. These are loaded and judgemental terms about a cultural practice that -- the mainstream of our culture hasn't woken up to yet.

The same sorts of labels could be applied to any cultural practice with which we disagree. I could claim, for example, that Americans are "victimized" by not learning a second language earlier in life, and "in complete denial" about it; or that we are "victimized" by racial and gender roles we are taught as children. And, indeed, there is some truth to each of those claims. However, each of these practices have widespread acceptance in our culture.

But I attached the words "minimal" and "benign" to the psychological trauma associated with circumcision, and -- for now -- circumcision is still a non-issue for most American men. (I suspect, in fact, that it was a non-issue for you for many years until someone convinced you it wasn't.) I stand by my claim that your victimization doesn't even compare to that endured by tvb.

He's Mister Truth Twister; He's Mister Hate. He's Mister Coke Sniffer; He's Mister Torture-Is-Great. They call me Shit Miser, whatever I touch...

by osterizer on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:14:44 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

You assumed I was circumcised (none / 1)

In fact, I am not. Though nearly every other American man of my generation is circed, I had the good fortune to be born overseas. By the time my parents came back to the U.S., when I was a few months old, they had gotten used to me in my natural state and didn't see any urgent need to go get surgery to make me "match" my father.

So in fact, mixed with my immeasurable relief is an ongoing horror show of being immersed in a brainwashed society where virtually every other guy my age has mutilated genitals, but they think they are better off that way!! I know how the equipment is supposed to work, and I can state with utmost certainty that they are not. Thus, the denial.

And, again, any number of mutilations could be done (removal of fingers, eyes, ears, what have you), and if they were done universally enough, people would consider it a "non-issue" because they'd have no basis for comparison. Their ignorance would not mean it actually was a non-issue, however!

And again, I believe just the opposite as regards male circ vs. tvp: doing surgery on those with birth defects is far more justifiable than doing it on normal, healthy boys.

-Alan

-9.00, -3.69

by SlackerInc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:37:12 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I stand corrected. (4.00 / 3)

I had inferred wrongly that your labelling of circumcision as "victimization" was an act of self-loathing, and not of genital supremacy. I stand corrected and apologize for the false accusation; congratulations on your foreskin.

Labelling tvb's genitals at birth a "defect" reveals the extent of your willingness to pass judgement on the bodies of others.

He's Mister Truth Twister; He's Mister Hate. He's Mister Coke Sniffer; He's Mister Torture-Is-Great. They call me Shit Miser, whatever I touch...

by osterizer on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:57:07 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

LOL (none / 0)

at "self-loathing" vs. "genital supremacy". Talk about "damned if you do, damned if you don't"!

If a foreskin occurred naturally only once in two thousand male births, it would be entirely natural to see it as a defect and to remove it surgically. The fact that it occurs in nearly every male birth is an indication of just the opposite: it is the form (which ensures proper function) of the normal, non-defective penis.

Do you believe there is no such thing as a birth defect? That seems to be the road down which your logic takes us.

-Alan

-9.00, -3.69

by SlackerInc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:02:32 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Gonna have to make a sig.... (none / 1)

congratulations on your foreskin. -- osterizer

BTW, I didn't mean to actually start an argument about circumcision. Probably should have kept my mouth shut....

:-X

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:32:16 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

*laughs* (none / 1)

Sorry --

I hope it didn't come across that I was arguing about circumcision; my beef was with the comparison between circumcision and forced gender assignment.

In any case, I'm standing down.

He's Mister Truth Twister; He's Mister Hate. He's Mister Coke Sniffer; He's Mister Torture-Is-Great. They call me Shit Miser, whatever I touch...

by osterizer on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:40:00 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Actually, I committed the sin of.... (none / 0)

mentioning two distinct issues in one comment.

I thought the foreskin comment was a really funny thing to say.

I also thought that I probably shouldn't have mentioned circumcision. But I didn't mean to imply that you were responsible for the subject change.

:)

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:41:16 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Re-read this comment (none / 0)

And immediately thought about how much I hate shaving.

It's a conspiracy of facial-hair mutilation!!!

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 04:05:21 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

psychological damage (none / 1)

Go and find a foreskin restoration site and read what some of the men there have to say. Many feel rage, they feel mutilated, they stop speaking to their parents, they describe fantasies of brutal violence against the obstetrician who circumised them, they go through grief, despair, etc. This does not result from the actual procedure but from discovering later in life what was done to them. Do you count that among the psychological damage?

My husband could barely get out of bed, missed three days of work, had panic attacks, and did not speak to his parents for a month when he began investigating circumcision. I would not call that minimal and benign.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

by vinifera on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:49:50 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Sample size (none / 1)

I have, in fact, read some of these sites before. The number of participants on these sites is a very small percentage of the male population; quite possibly no more than the number of men who voted for Michael Peroutka in the 2004 presidential election.

I don't dispute that the trauma they and your husband feel is genuine; and my condolences go out to your husband in particular for the anguish he endured.

He's Mister Truth Twister; He's Mister Hate. He's Mister Coke Sniffer; He's Mister Torture-Is-Great. They call me Shit Miser, whatever I touch...

by osterizer on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:07:58 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

thank you (none / 1)

Thank you for respecting my husband's reaction. But, while I agree that the sample size of men who feel seriously traumatized may be small, I attribute this to ignorance rather than to acceptance. About a third of young men do not even know their status (circumcised or intact). Those who are circumcised and are aware of it still usually could not describe the normal functioning of an intact penis.

And certainly hardly any of them have run across, say, comments on a UK health website made by women agreeing that there is just "nothing to play with" on circumcsed men or that oral sex is "right out," which happened to us. Tends to change one's viewpoint.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

by vinifera on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:36:03 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Wow, recommended! (4.00 / 2)

Thanks for the insightful diary. The 50's is still with us, it seems.

Re hermaphrodite: I get it. Besides, who uses 2000 year old concepts and terminology these days :-)

On the number of intersexed people: Let's pick one in 1,000. Then the US has about 300,000. Let's suppose that they don't fit in too well and 10% of them move to my town? Wow, now I understand my town a little better.

That's not to mention people who have non-visible biological variations from the average regarding gender.

Come see TV from the reality-based community at RealityBasedTV.com

by MarkInSanFran on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:24:06 AM PDT

2000 year old concepts... (none / 1)

"Besides, who uses 2000 year old concepts and terminology these days"

Theo-con wingnuts? :P

(Is theo-con even a word? I just like the way it divides the Repubs into Theo-cons and Neo-cons)

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:35:20 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Medical costs (none / 1)

Everyone talks about the soaring
costs of medical care, but no one
does anything about it.

But if we eliminated all this unneeded
surgery it would help.

Some medical insurance plans do
not cover Viagra, others don't cover
birth control.

I don't see why insurance companies
should be allowed to cover this kind
of surgery without consent. In effect,
we all pay for this stuff through higher
premiums, and now that I know about it,
I don't like it at all.

by Woody on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:38:02 AM PDT

the anti-circ folks (4.00 / 2)

Have been quite successful at getting medicaid in some states to stop paying for that and we are following closely on how do the same. I think Illinois was the most recent victory on that front.

The education process is a bit different because it really gets into asking people to think about sex and gender in a different way. We've made some headway and I'm planning on getting into more detail in a future diary about it.

One issue we confront though is the medical paradigm considers intersex to be a social emergency which is how they get the coverage.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:11:23 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Other social & professional . . . (4.00 / 7)

. . . issues are extremely important in this very convoluted area. First, I have a niece who appeared to be female at birth; raised as a girl; no menarche by age 16; off to the clinic, and was told that most of the internal organs are "mixed," in miniature, or undeveloped. Second, her parents are right wing, fundamentalist, evangelical, religious zealots who think that their deity has a hand in this.

So, this young lady attempts to function in a social environment that is hopelessly hostile to the reasonable, functional, medical & scientific options available (people around her don't even "believe" in the science, right!). Her physiological capacity for heterosexual intercourse is compromised--not much of a vagina (described as miniscule). The family chose secrecy, for 2 years now, and I am the only additional family member who knows (not even her brother is aware, yet).

So far, no procedures have been done. The primary medical caregiver referred a counselor. At a later date, the mother came to me because the results of the counseling were disturbing to both parents, the preacher, and my niece. I am a counselor, and they all wanted me to refer a different professional because of their dislike for the assessment and recommendations.

As with tvb's diary statements, the various "realities" are too complex for simple responses, compromises, decisions, solutions, etc. The preacher is a maniac, and he has great influence. The parents are compromised by the stupidities of their faith, but they genuinely care about their child's happiness. The counselor is (or was) far too vested in the "let's get this fixed" line of thought, as if a scalpel, a laser, and some tissue can make everything wonderfully just so.

I referred the young lady to a university-based clinic. There has been no feed-back, to me, however I've heard she has continued going to a sequence of appointments.

It seems to me that conventional wisdom among medical professionals frequently results in harm; if you don't know what you are doing, then choose to do nothing. Unless life threatening (inability to void), instant "fixes" are not necessary. The social context is very difficult. A homosexual lifestyle in a small, rural, fundagelical community is probably not a workable option. The vagaries, random variables, and the chaos of knowledge, education, training, and background of the counselors that may be available in a situation are almost boggling. If the parents discuss their infant with a psychiatrist, who has a background from a medical school, or with a social worker, whose background is a small liberal arts college with religious affilitation, then the recommendations may be almost predictably different.

Finally, it would be informative to discover and learn how other cultures handle these gender variables. At a rate of 1 per 2,000 births, there would be about 600,000 people of this type in China; about 500,000 in India. As a generality, it seems unlikely that surgical intervention would be affordable or available in a very large percentage of the births in those countries. Have those societies found ways to accommodate, or is it more and nastier prejudice to the maximum?

by walt on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:04:32 AM PDT

A friend who frequently visits Bali (4.00 / 2)

tells me that the Balinese believe that
there are six genders and since Bali
is 95% or so Hindu, maybe that thinking is also true in India.

H.L. Mencken: "A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves"

by igneous on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:49:40 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

this is what concerns me (4.00 / 3)

With intersex children born to fundies, I'd imagine many of them would not be able to accept the child without some sort of surgical intervention to "correct" the baby into either male or female, because they wouldn't want to raise a child they couldn't classify in their only two "godly" identities of uber-masculine male or uber-feminine female. Anything in between would be a sin and an abomination. But that's not what they got. That's not what God gave them. God gave them a baby, a human, an individual who doesn't fit within their strict categories, so by performing this surgery, aren't they going against nature itself? Wouldn't they be going against God? I'm sure they wouldn't think of it that way. It seems it's more important to most fundies to appear "normal" to those around them than anything else. At least when I was growing up fundie, I quickly realized it was more about appearances than anything else.
But it sounds like your niece's parents are less like the fundies I've just described and more interested in the well-being of their daughter. It's a relief to hear that they weren't eager to have her surgically altered. I hope whatever happens to her is based on what she wants and how she feels.
Regardless, stories like this break my heart. Growing up and figuring out how to deal with sexuality is tough enough as it is. I guess I'm pretty lucky to have given birth to a healthy boy with all his parts in their proper places, huh?

"People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character."--Ralph Waldo Emerson

by rioduran on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:22:42 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

surprisingly (4.00 / 2)

Many with a very strict religious background will not do surgeries on their child because they feel that their baby is what was given them and they should not change what the intentions were.

The danger in that is if there are UTI problems, and then if the older teen wants it done.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:14:49 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Excellent diary! (4.00 / 6)

To confuse matters more, many of us have ambiguities in our sexuality(driven by differences in gene transcription, epigenetic factors, possibly environmental and social factors as well), so even if we have "normal" chromosomes and genitals and are not overtly homosexual, in our heads we are not entirely comfortable in our own skins and gender. And our hormonal mileau changes as we age, generally bringing us closer to a "neutral" but not neutered position.

Discomfort with sexual ambiguity or homosexuality results in tragedy for many people; thank you for calling attention to the tragedy of the babies born intersex who are surgically mutilated to meet an artificial set of "normal" criteria.

(In some cases, I believe, surgical repair may be done to correct structural differences that can threaten health; retained or "cryptorchid" testes are more susceptible to cancer, for example, and severe hypospadias can cause problems with infection and being able to urinate at all; not just influence whether a man can stand to pee.)

Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

by barbwires on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:09:51 AM PDT

cryptorchidism (4.00 / 2)

The testicular cancer that some doctors speak of regarding retained tissue is a bit misleading. It doesn't happen before the person is an adult so there should not be any rush until the person can participate in the decision. It's mostly a scare factor before then.

Infections and quality of health does make surgery necessary in some cases, however, a big problem is that further cosmetic things are done at the same time. I met a young woman a while back who chose to have some additional vaginal surgery done as an adult and the doctor assumed she would also like her clitoris reduced in size even though she was quite happy to have grown up with it intact. I encouraged her to sue for malpractice but she didn't have the emotional fortitude to do when she could.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:35:32 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Concur (none / 0)

Informed consent is the best medical practise; including letting "patients" know that there is no penalty for going AMA or against medical advice. But how often does that happen? And its not like the alternatives to
"correction" have been studied; rather there is a paternalistic assumption that things will go best if a patient appears "normal" with little or no evaluation of how the individual really feels or identifies. Or any follow up at maturity, as you correctly point out.

Maybe part of the problem is how a parent feels, or is made to feel, if a baby is not "perfect." No one tells the mother that there is a range of options, or maybe that the child could grow up healthier if a decision re "corrective" surgery were postponed until the child was mature enough to participate in the decision. Instead the parents hear 'do it now, before the child is old enough to remember' (bullhockey; kids may not remember consciously but the nightmares can last a long time). And they hear 'it will be better for the child.' and what mother doesn't want to do what they are told is best for the child? And the parents, and especially the mother may feel ashamed or guilty that something has gone "wrong." Seems to me this issue needs to be brought up in medical ethics and physician's training a lot more than is done currently.

Same bloody problem with aging; does a woman need hormone supplements to counter the partial masculinization common after menopause? or does a man need supplementary androgens because he is past the male climacteric? Just as there is a desire to standardize offspring there is a desire to medicalize natural human conditions such as aging in the name of 'fulfillment.' So who the hell defines that? And what price such as increased cancer risk do older men and women have to pay before the pendulum swings back again? And what valuable flexibility in perspective do we lose by insisting we all should be the same?

Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

by barbwires on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:14:23 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Excellent diary (4.00 / 3)

Thank you for a highly informative diary. I was aware of the overall problem, but the details demonstrate just how knotty the moral issues are.

A few comments:

  1. The testiness about terminology strikes me as, well, petty. Yes, the intentional use of derogatory terminology is unpardonable, but the innocent attempt to find a good term seems unobjectionable to me. Prior to reading this diary, I was inclined toward "intersexual". Now I read that it's a serious no-no. Well, OK, but when I put on my grammarian hat I must point out that "intersex" is structurally a noun, not an adjective. Should we have a grand battle between the grammar snobs and the intersex snobs to decide the issue? Perhaps we should all be a bit more easygoing about this problem.

  2. The underlying issue is the unyielding polarity of our society's sexual identification of individuals. I think wryly of all those bumper stickers insisting that "marriage = one man + one woman". I suppose that these defenders of marriage would deny marriage to all intersex people. Medical intervention is a clumsy attempt to cope with a social problem, and as such it's simply wrongheaded.

  3. There remains a serious moral conundrum that we must accept as impossible: how should the parents raise an intersex child? Much of parenting is a matter of teaching the child how to fit into society. How can you teach a child to fit into a role that is physically impossible to fit into? We've got square pegs, square holes, round pegs, round holes, and intersex children are somewhere between square and round. I can certainly understand the desire to do some work with a wood file to obtain an acceptable fit into the role-hole, and if we're talking about just a little touch-up work, it might be acceptable -- but where do we draw the line between "a little touch-up work" and "monstrous intervention"?

The problems raised by this situation cannot be solved with a scalpel, nor will they resolved anytime soon through social enlightenment. Sexual identification is a profound part of all social systems. In the far future, we can hope for an enlightened society that, to twist Dr. King's words, judges people by the content of their character rather than the conventionality of their genitals. Until then, we must all accept that this is a messy, ugly problem, and do our own bit to make society's response to it a bit more civilized.

by Erasmussimo on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:15:54 AM PDT

a note about language (4.00 / 2)

I agree with the grammar issues. But, those with intersex have only speaking out for about a dozen years, and only in the past few has it become socially okay for more people to speak out. Even so, there are only a few of us out really out there on the forefront and pounding this hammer loudly and doing our best to pass on what our community tells us they want.

Until this started to happen, all language was about us without a peep from us about how we feel. As a result, there is an ongoing attempt to reclaim and shape how we are discussed both socially and medically.

I concede it isn't always grammatically correct, but my experience has been the word intersexual is disturbingly frowned upon those who it attempts to describe. That said, suggestions are always appreciated and it is something that is routinely discussed.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:22:56 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Neologism (none / 0)

I would suggest a neologism then, and I can offer a few suggestions. First off, there's a simple rule for how readily neologisms are accepted into the general vocabulary: the more "official" and the less slangy it sounds, the better its chances. In most cases "official" means "Greek or Latin root", although sometimes Indo-European roots also work well. So let's just say that you want a word indicating a blend of male and female. If you do it in Latin, then you have 'vir' and 'femina' to work with. You could mash them together to get 'virfem'. However, the two fricatives in close proximity don't go together well, so this is a weak candidate.

Turning to Greek, we have 'anthros' and 'gyn' to work with. How about 'anthrogyn'? That has reasonable mellifluity. The reverse, 'gynanth' is a monstrosity.

There are other pairings that could be tried, based on different meanings. Unfortunately, most such pairings would probably be found derogatory: 'part-man', 'pseudo-woman', 'semi-man', 'un-woman', 'null-man, and so forth just won't fly, I'm sure.

Would you like me to keep trying other combinations?

by Erasmussimo on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:38:39 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Keep going, please (none / 0)

The issue of language is one of the most discussed on the BLO comunity forums and does cause problems all the way around for many.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:23:40 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Some more possibilities (none / 0)

OK, so I did some research and learned a number of things. First, there are already some terms: gynander and androgyne, for a woman with male characteristics and vice versa.

Second, here is a list of Indo-European roots that could be assembled into a neologism:

TEME dark, obscure
XENO strange
DHER muddied, obscure
EU lacking, empty
GHE lack
GUEN woman
KEN empty
LADH hidden, forgotten
LENDH loin
MAS masculinity
MEDHI middle, between

SO you could put some of these together like so:

temelend ('obscure loins')
xenolend ('strange loins' -- probably not what people want)
medimasgyn ('between man and woman')
variants: medimasken, medimaskine (a 'g' will folkchange to 'k')
eumaskin ('lacking man-woman' -- dangerously close to 'emasculate')

You can play around with a variety of other combinations. There's plenty of room to play with some of the consonants, because from a linguistic evolution point of view, consonants morph around within their families. Thus, k-g-ch or p-f or t-d-th. 'Guarantee' and 'warranty' are the same words, as are 'cat' and 'gato' or 'deos' and 'theos' -- both meaning 'god'.

by Erasmussimo on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 04:49:17 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

There's already "Androgyne" (none / 0)

But that one is similar to "hermaphrodite" in that it has enormous cultural baggage.

(Incidentally, the Japanese genderqueer community is in the process of (as i understand it) adopting "newhalf" as a sort-of positive version of "shemale". Mind you, it seems to be just as prevalant in pornography now...)

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:40:49 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Good work, tvb (4.00 / 4)

Hypospadias, the most common birth problem in the US (1 in 325 otherwise healthy births) is increasing in prevalence for reasons that are not yet clear. Could it be antenatal exposure to phthalates? No one knows. It is, however, a heterogenous disorder with only the most severe form (when the urethral meatus or opening is located on the perineum or scrotum) associated with intersex. Do your statistics include all forms of hypospadias?

I had the most wonderful teenage female patient several years ago. A very petite girl with asthma born at 27 weeks gestation. She became my patient around age 12 and we developed an excellent rapport, so much so that at her 16 year PE when I asked her about sex, drinking, and drugging she requested a gyn exam with me because she and her boyfriend were thinking about becoming sexually active. Her mom was aware and seemed proud that her daughter was taking responsibility for herself.

Her previous physicals had included only the usual cursury visual of the external genitals to establish her Tanner stage (how far along the puberty continuum). As we proceeded with the pelvic exam I saw that she had an exceedingly large clitoris, more like a small penis with a length of about 3.5 cm. I hope this wonderful girl did not notice the deep breath I took. I asked if she had any questions or concerns about her body as we finished the exam. She did not.

I left the room while she dressed and carefully examined her entire chart. There was one tiny note from a med student during her NICU stay as a premie indicating she had clitoromegaly (medical term for enlarged clitoris) with no follow-up anywhere.

She had a completely normal female life, was orgasmic, but turned out to have a rare variant of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia and would have benefited greatly in terms of her stature and asthma from earlier recognition since small doses of steroids before and during puberty would have helped her achieve a more average height and decreased her asthma exacerbations.

There is so much we don't know about intersexuality. Sexual reassignment and the work of John Money were simplistic attempts to understand and "fix" that did not come close to explaining, understanding or treating.

Thank you, tvb.

"And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

by madaprn on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:16:36 AM PDT

hypospadius (none / 0)

I included it mostly because of the self-identification of men with it who call themselves intersex. Medically, it's not considered to be under the intersex umbrella, however men who have had many, many surgeries tend to align themselves with IS because of the shame, trauma, and secrets.

As you so well pointed out, only the most severe cases are considered intersex and those are included in the stats I use)which are from Ann Fausto-Sterling's work). The 1:2000 is fairly conservative as a result. There are many researchers who will count any variance in genitals as intersex going so far as including things such as Peyronies Disease and come up with an incidence of 1:200.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:55:44 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Holy Crap! (4.00 / 4)

I had surgery on my penis when I was six years old, because of chronic bedwetting. None of the doctors my parents took me too could help, until they finally took me to a Urologist. (According to my parents) he said "drop your pants" took one look, and diagnosed the problem.

All I was ever told about the surgery is that it was to enlarge the hole in the end of my penis, because some skin had grown over it and was interfering with urination. (Causing my bladder muscles to become abnormally strong, and making control of urination difficult.)

Since I don't spend a lot of time looking at other men's penises, I never really thought about it, but my urethra opens near the bottom of the head of the penis, not in the center. I always thought this was normal until I looked up hypospadius on the web just now. Talking about "distal hypospadius" where it's very mild, the site I found says:

Second, while the urethral opening may be in a nearly correct position, it is often misshapen or enlarged. Or it may have a web of skin just behind the opening. Those factors can disturb the urinary stream.

Wow, this explains a lot! I never expected to find information about myself in this discussion.

It's nice to know what was really going on when I went in for surgery in 1st grade. Thanks!

Plus, now I have a name for the procedure. I always felt weird when I'd go see a new doctor, and they'd ask about my surgical history. "Surgery to cut a bigger hole in the end of my penis because I was wetting the bed" never really fit into the space they provide on the forms!

:P

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:56:53 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Great diary. (4.00 / 4)

And something that I'd like to read more about.

Someone suggested to me once that I might have Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. I scoffed at them then (mostly because they tried to diagnose me from a show they'd seen on t.v.), but I've often wondered since. I tend to believe that my "unusual" conceptions of my own gender were heavily influenced by my upbringing, but I also haven't really explored possible biological reasons much. Do you have any good links?

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -Eleanor Roosevelt

by tryptamine on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:19:21 AM PDT

AIS support group (4.00 / 2)

AIS support group has great resources for it.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:24:59 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Male Circumcision (4.00 / 5)

Male circumcision is the most common form of genital mutilation in the world.

But what is most amazing is that this is not even questioned in the U.S.

If more people knew the history of circumcision, particularly in the U.S. (one of it's primary reasons for being adopted with that it would reduce masturbation amongst teenage boys), and the diminshing effects it has on sexual pleasure, they would not only be appalled, they'd never let that knife near their sons.

Genital mutilation is wrong, whether male, female, or intersex.

TAKE BACK OUR PARTY: DEMOCRACY BONDS

by LiberalFromPA on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:26:51 AM PDT

I agree in part (none / 0)

I guess I have almost the opposite view of the diarist. I think male (and female) circumcision is clearly wrong. You're taking normal, functional genitals and mutilating them nonconsensually in a way that impairs their natural function.

But the kind of thing the diarist talks about occurs in 1/2000 babies. How is that not a birth defect? What's next, are we going to go on a campaign against surgery for babies born with cleft palates? Or, for an even more extreme example, those born with holes in their hearts? Okay, I suppose we could draw the line at the place where it impacts health. But I think when someone is born with a condition that makes them look different than the vast majority of other human beings, it's not inappropriate "mutilation" to have cosmetic surgery done. I do think they ought to tell the kids about it when they are old enough to understand, though.

-Alan

-9.00, -3.69

by SlackerInc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:44:55 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

I think this is missing the point. (4.00 / 2)

I don't want to speak for the diarist, but for me personally the reason these surgeries are so offensive is NOT just the fact that there's no informed consent, since as you very correctly point out, that happens all the time with infant birth defects like heart conditions or cleft palates.

The reason this issue is different is because the type and shape of the baby's sex organs are going to be used to assign them a gender. The doctors just pick one, based on what's easier for them to surgically create! And then the rest of that person's life, they're going to be identified by that completely arbitrary gender. So what's the problem with that? The problem is that the person's "real" gender seems to almost always has a way of surfacing...because on biological/pyschological/genetic levels that the doctor's crude surgery impacted NOT AT ALL, the person is still just as they were before.

I guess if the surgery could actually alter gender, it might be worth it. But it DOESN'T alter gender, it alters genitalia. Which is just a small piece of the puzzle. So the surgeries are a botched job by definition.

by Summer F on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:03:36 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

So what *should* be done? (none / 0)

Just leave them "as is"...and then what? I didn't really catch, either from the diarist or from you, what you thought the best way to deal with this would be. And I can't picture a scenario where things end up just fine and dandy. Seems like it's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type deal all the way 'round.

-Alan

-9.00, -3.69

by SlackerInc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:07:40 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Well, here's what I would want done if it were me. (4.00 / 5)

First off, you're absolutely right that there's no easy choice here....difficulties abound either way.

But here's what I would want done if it were me. I would want to stay "as is" until my own pyschological sense of my gender could be determined (so probably post-puberty). Then if gender reassignment were something I wanted, it could be done, as my choice. Just like it's done by choice by adult transgender people on a regular basis.

I realize childhood could be rough in that scenario. But what childhood isn't rough? I grew up ostracized by my peers for entirely different reasons, and I survived it.

Also, location, location, location. I grew up in hicktown USA, and they'd probably run an intersex kid out of town there. In a more liberal, progressive, enlightened, dare I say even "politically correct" region or town, I think it would be a lot easier to get some accomodation from schools, etc. Already, here in Cambridge MA where I live, the schools have added unisex bathrooms to all their facilities for just such situations (intersex and trans students).

I'd just so much rather make the choice myself.

by Summer F on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:19:45 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

probably not (none / 1)

Because we don't wear our genitals on our forehead.

Kids get teased for all sorts of different reasons..for being fat, for wearing glasses, for not wearing the right kind of clothes, etc.

We survive and adapt.

I always get a chuckle about even the gym class argument--well, think about how much time is spent undressing in front of our peers as children and then contrast that to how much time we spend having sex as adults...and ask yourself, which one would you rather give up? The time in the locker room or the great sex?

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:37:19 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

But who are you going to have the great sex with? (none / 0)

Seems to me the "gym class" issue would just be magnified when you're making out with someone and it becomes time to get to "third base" or whatever.

-Alan

-9.00, -3.69

by SlackerInc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:47:19 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

only (none / 0)

If you are kept in the dark about what is different about your body. Otherwise in my experience and that of others as told to me, it's not that big of a deal.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:22:39 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

OK (none / 0)

So no one has ever had anxiety that their significant other will be nonplussed? That surprises me, but I'll take your word for it.

-Alan

-9.00, -3.69

by SlackerInc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:29:58 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

well (none / 1)

I think maybe you misunderstood me or I did a bad job replying (more likely).

It can be an issue...if it is not talked about ahead of time. Talking about it also requires knowing what was done (or not done) and being comfortable in your skin.

People with intersex are generally not at the high end of being sexually active and what you point out is one of the major reasons why--fear of rejection, not knowing how to explain it, etc.

Once that passes and you know your partner, and they know you, it's not a big deal. It transcends the typical hook-up or sex for the sake of having sex and gets mroe into making love.

I get many emails from people that I classify into the 'wanna-fuck' pile. The funny part the writers don't realize people with intersex generally don't sleep around.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:29:25 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

The best people... (none / 0)

(And i mean the really best people!)

Aren't going to care. Sure, it's awkward--but so is sex in general with someone you've never had sex or other physical intimacy with.

I've gone through this process myself a couple times now and let's just put it this way: it may as well be a screening method because the ones for whom gender/sexual ambiguity are a deal-breaker are not really the ones you want to deal with anyway. And it's not like you suddenly, magically "turn normal". The history--and really, the physical record--is all still there. Just covered up.

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:46:18 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

That's a reasonable choice (none / 0)

It just doesn't strike me as the only reasonable choice, that's all. I see as many problems with this approach as with others.

-Alan

-9.00, -3.69

by SlackerInc on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:40:07 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

it's the consent (none / 1)

Another poster mentioned medical emergencies that require a fix--no problem because no one should die from a urinary tract infection or problem.

However, the things I write about are a quality of life issues and as such, should require the consent of the person wanting the surgery him or herself. Dr. Alice Dreger wrote an excellent book called, One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal that explores some of the issues you seem to be alluding to.

No one, to the best of my knowledge, is saying surgery should never be done and young adults and adults should be free to choose it if they desire.

In the case of intersex however, I know several people who grew up without surgery and would never think of having their genitals cut to conform to "normal".

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:32:09 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

health reasons..... (none / 0)

This can be a difficult decision for parents in the US (I guess most other countries don't do this? Except for Israel?)

My husband and I did take time to think about this when we knew we would be having a baby boy.
I think it came down to...would it be hard for a boy to not look like his father or his peers?

My husband was comfortable with his own circumcision, so we went ahead and had it done.

I certainly disagree with the reasons it was started in the US in the first place(sex phobia),
but haven't studies shown that circumcision significantly reduces risks of certain cancers, not only in males, but in females who may be the partners of uncircumcised males?

I could be wrong, but I do remember hearing news reports on this a few years ago.

Anyway, I think there would have to be a major cultural shift in the US to see much change.
I think people are open minded about it, but they were about their child being "different."

by lrhoke on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:04:39 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

worry (none / 0)

meant to write..."they worry about their child being different"

by lrhoke on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:05:58 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

circ and cancer (none / 1)

The research out there regarding cancers, cancers in the sex partner of men, etc. is generally full of holes. There's an excellent organization (which my organization is also part of) called International Coalition for Genital Integrity that is mostly focused on circ and spends a ton of time debunking those myths.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:42:34 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

good diary by the way.... (none / 1)

I saw some sort of report on this in the last few years, about the way people were suffering because of the decisions had been made about how to deal with their "ambiguous genitalia" when they were born. Too bad we as a society are not learning "faster" from what these people are reporting.

by lrhoke on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:17:22 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Cultural shift (none / 0)

Actually, male circumcision of newborn babies is in the mid-30% now in California, and has dropped signficantly (though not as steeply as in CA) everywhere in the U.S. except the South.

Depending on where you live, being circumcised will be the exception rather than the rule for the current generation of young boys.

As for where circ is practiced routinely, it is most common in three places: Israel, the Islamic world, and the U.S. Muslims, like Jews, observe circumcision as part of their faith, though when a boy is circumcised varies amongst different cultures (in Indonesia, it's common to be circumcised around age 6). And also remember, in many Muslim countries, female circumsion is practiced as well. In Egypt, 90% of women are estimated as being circumcised.

Circumcision was common in Canada, the UK, and Australia, but has since lost favor. It's not so common in most of Europe or Latin America, and rare or even unknown in large parts of Asia.

Are there health benefits to male circumcision? Yes. It is believed that circumcision reduces the rate of penile cancer. But as someone else here wrote, using that reason to advocate circumcision is like advocating mandatory mastectomies to all females to reduce the rate of breast cancer (and breast cancer is far more common than penile cancer).

However, even that argument can be challenged, as countries like Japan and South Korea do not circumcise but still have lower rates of penile cancer than in the U.S.

Essentially, there is no reason to circumcise except in extreme medical cases -- just like with mastectomies. It should not be a routine surgery.

TAKE BACK OUR PARTY: DEMOCRACY BONDS

by LiberalFromPA on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:04:11 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

rates in Oklahoma (none / 0)

Anyone know what the percentages in Oklahoma are?
My son is now 16, so trends could have changed, although I would suspect that OK, as usual, would be slower.

by lrhoke on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:21:42 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I agree with you. (none / 0)

I had my son circ'd as well. For us, it came down to many things. I've never seen an uncir'd adult. My husband's father wasn't circ'd, and my husband is glad that he was. My sister in law is a nurse who routinely sees elderly men coming in for circumcisions because of infections and cancers. Jewish women are much less likely to get ovarian and cerivical cancers, most likely because they are married to circumcised men.

I know many families who haven't done it who are not judgemental or over the top in their objections to it.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." -- John Stuart Mill

by Auntie Mame on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:07:10 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Is the Jewish thing true? (none / 0)

That's what I was taught in college, but years later I read something that said it was wasn't true, in the sense that Jewish men are circumcised and Jewish women have a lower rate of cancer BUT those two statements are not cause and effect. Has anyone heard anything different?

by rosel on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:07:02 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

asdf (none / 1)

Please read recent diary: "Cervical Cancer Vaccine works...Dobson shits the bed" for extensive discussion on causes of cervical CA. No cause and effect between circ and cervical CA.

"And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

by madaprn on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 05:37:32 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

No (none / 1)

Auntie Mame just makes shit up as she goes along. Pathetic really...

by sanchez96 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:49:50 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Reduce Masturbation? (none / 1)

Certainly didn't work in my case... back to the drawing board, rabbi!

Everyone needs a laugh. Especially you. - NYComedyRadio.com

by ThatsNotFunny on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:29:51 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

The /real/ reason... (none / 0)

For circumcision in Judaism, or at least: according to the Torah the real reason, is as a sign of the covenant between the Jewish people and God. In other words, circumcision was a way to set the Jewish people "apart" from the non-Jewish people.

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:53:16 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Not Jewish idea (none / 0)

The idea was proposed by the famous Dr. Kellog (yes, THE Kellog), who was a fundamentalist Christian.

Jewish people do it for wholly different reasons.

TAKE BACK OUR PARTY: DEMOCRACY BONDS

by LiberalFromPA on Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 10:30:36 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Great diary tvb. Well written. Important. (4.00 / 3)

The first time I really considered these situations was after reading a work of fiction by Iain Banks called The Wasp Factory when I was 12 or 13 years old. I wonder if you've ever heard about or read it?

It's a brilliant book even aside from the topical relationship to your diary.

Having just become a father, I did worry slightly about how my son might turn out, although had reassurance in that my wife and I had discussed, and were both in agreement, that any non-essential surgery (including circumcision) was completely out of the question.

Anyway, I look forward to the rest of this series.

Thanks.

You want to downsize the government?
Fuck you. My government defends the American people.

by deafmetal on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:36:01 AM PDT

Thank you, and recommended. (none / 1)

Informative, compelling, well-researched and well-written.

I look forward to the future installments, and I hope you'll live up to to your word and post them on weekends, because I don't get to spend much time here during the week.

-8.25,-8.36 As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it? - William Marcy Tweed

by sidnora on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:06:55 AM PDT

I will--most are already written (4.00 / 3)

And I figure it is better weekend fodder when the news cycle is slow.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:16:23 AM PDT
[ Parent ]

Fascinating (4.00 / 3)

And I thought they only circumcised male babies - but no, they actually dock the penis if it's too big!

The wholesale genital mutilation of males in America is something that will make little sense to archaeologists someday. Why would a society want sex to be less pleasurable and more dysfunctional for the males?

This diary helped me to understand that it isn't just males who are routinely mutilated at birth. An excellent topic that the media would never touch.

-7.38, -5.90 | "When...in the course of all these thousands of years has man ever acted in accordance with his own interests?" - Fyodor Dostoevsky

by Subterranean on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:12:47 AM PDT

You'd think t hey'd learn (4.00 / 2)

that gender isn't soemthing that can be changed iwth surgey. The case in which John Money, the Johns Hopkins' expert, played god with David Reimer's genitals and ordered him raised as a girl--an eforts that failed spectacularly and which contributed to his eventual suicide, ahould have proved that once and for all. Gender seems to be brain-based, not genital based.

The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

by irishwitch on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:21:47 AM PDT

John Colapinto's book (4.00 / 2)

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl (Perennial, 2000) is the story of David Reimer, (born Bruce Reimer and raised Brenda Reimer) and the unmitigated arrogance of John Mooney. Highly recommended, though it'll make you VERY angry.

The Intersex Society of North America is also a fabulous resource. Cheryl Chase, the Executive Director, is a very powerful public speaker.

Only connect.--E.M. Forster

by Jeanniebean on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:09:51 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Money has a lot to answer for... (4.00 / 3)

...including his division of transsexual people into two types: criminal and non-criminal. He was not a good man.

Robyn

Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 11am EST

by rserven on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:45:16 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

As an aside, I worked one summer at Johns Hopkins (none / 0)

and met his former secretary, who had taken a different position for a boss who treated her better. She quit after seven years withhimbecsue she got tired of him summoning her to his office with the command, "Get in here, bitch." Totallack of respect for her. Her new boss, while a bit of a martient ins oem people's eyes, was unfailingly courteous.

Never could read any of Money's research after that. Soemoen with a worldview that fucked up might have alot of knowledge but was going to not recognize when his theories failed--as they did with David/Brenda.

I've argued whether homeosexuality or trassexualism is a chocie or innate. Despite what the idiots at NARTH claim, most of the research says gender identity as well as sexual rpeference are innate. If Money's theopries had worked, David would ahve accpeted hismelf as a girl and found himself attracted to men. In other words, he woudl ahve been a genetic male attracted to his own sex, though with parts missing. DIdn't work. Even without knowing he was born male, David was straight. This case makes a HUGE argument for bith gender identity and sexual orientationbeing innate, not learned or a choice.

I thinkj wea re gonna find that sexuality and gender aren't either blue or pink but a lot of other colors too.

The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

by irishwitch on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:55:42 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Money (none / 1)

Has never once acknowledged his failings and make-believe research results. We were hoping he might even have the decency to acknowledge David's death nd it didn't happen.

He was also involved in my care FWIW.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:08:17 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

You learn a lot about someone (none / 0)

when you find out how they treat subordinates. His other endearment for her was "you fukcing cunt." His attitude toward thsoe who worked for him is likely pretty close to his attitude toward patients.I suspect he has little respect for women in general, and none at all for the intersexed and transgender communities.

The crime is that they allowed him to continue this--and that other doctors follow suit--long after they KNOW it doesn't work.

The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

by irishwitch on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 12:59:19 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

anti-circumcision links (4.00 / 2)

International Coalition for Genital Integrity:

http://www.icgi.org/
=========

Circumcision Resource Center:

http://www.circumcision.org/
============

Jewish Circumcision Resource Center:

http://www.jewishcircumcision.org/

============

by negropontedeathsquads on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:51:18 AM PDT

Bravo! (none / 1)

Excellent diary. This has been very informative. Thank you for posting.

by itskevin on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 12:22:27 PM PDT

THANK YOU (4.00 / 3)

I am expecting a new grandson over the next 48 hours, and we have already been warned via ultrasound that he may have problems which are usually accompanied by hypo or epispadias.

As you know, these things are normally fixed surgically in an uncomplicated procedure, so I never worried about it much.

But I'll be damned if we'd go forward with surgery now, after reading what you've had to say about it.

Thanks a million.

Tarheel born, tarheel bred! And when I die, I'll be tarheel dead.

by NCYellowDog on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:28:24 PM PDT

good luck (4.00 / 2)

And should you need facts, figures, etc, let me know and I can point you right to them.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:59:41 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

please contact me should your (none / 0)

grandson be born with epispadius, generally not a feature of IS.

"And tell me how does god choose whose prayers does he refuse?" Tom Waits

by madaprn on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 05:40:00 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

GOOD LORD NSFW! NSFW!!! (none / 0)

Some of us read Daily Kos at WORK! How am I supposed to explain to my boss why I'm looking at sliced open baby peckers at my desk?

A warning abov the fold or in the subject line that there is going to be graphic photos would have been nice, don't ya think?

I'm sorry, but "sensitive ones---close your eyes and scroll down a bit" just doesn't cut it... (pun intended)

Everyone needs a laugh. Especially you. - NYComedyRadio.com

by ThatsNotFunny on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 01:28:49 PM PDT

oops. (none / 0)

My apologies on that. I see it as a medical picture just like any other rather than as a prurient one and simply didn't think it could cause a problem as you describe.

If I use any in future diaries in this series, I'll make a note in the title.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 02:08:24 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

My wife is a service coordinator.... (none / 1)

for early childhood special ed. She does the special ed, and coordinates the OT, PT, Speech, etc depending on what the child needs.

A while back, she had a child on her caseload with some sort of problem affecting his penis. Was filling out some paperwork, and couldn't remember what it was called.

She used Google. I guess she wasn't specific enough. She ended up sending an email to her manager saying "I was really looking for a medical term, I wasn't looking for pictures of naked guys with weird shaped penises."

congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

by bartman on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:05:55 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I think that the picture is reasonable (4.00 / 2)

it is small, it is not prurient, and it is not even immediately recognizable.

The world would be a better place if people were more exposed to its full uglyness rather then being allowed to wander through life in ignorant bliss.

No apologies by poster are necessary.

If you are reading at work, I would be more worried about your boss seeing you slacking off.

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:47:39 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

Where was this diary when I researching my novel? (none / 0)

Okay, so that was a few years ago. Okay, so it still hasn't seen the light of publication, despite being "poised on the edge" for years. But some of my main characters were intersexed people trying to find where they fit in.

I guess I'm trying to say I'm definitely interested in your continuing. My biggest problem was that I didn't actually KNOW anyone in this situation. If you'd be willing to talk/write to me off-kos, let me know.

Peace,
Rosel

by rosel on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:02:21 PM PDT

my email is in my profile (none / 1)

I'm known to be a bit harsh when reviewing fiction though. It's mostly because I see a lot of hack jobs come in my email that are simply being sensationalistic.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 03:30:11 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

While interesting, and well written, this diary (none / 0)

is so PC it made my eyes bleed.

"hermaphrodite" is a bad word?
Huh?
Why?

by Sam Loomis on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 05:20:46 PM PDT

It's misleading -- unless... (none / 1)

A hermaphrodite is an organism that possesses reproductive organs of both sexes; this is common in various species of fish.

The term isn't accurate to describe people who possess a single set of reproductive organs which is 'ambiguous' because it possesses some male characteristics and some female characteristics.

According to Wikipedia, there are reported cases of people who do have two fully formed (though non-functional) sets of reproductive organs, and the case could be made for calling those people (and only those people) hermaphrodites.

He's Mister Truth Twister; He's Mister Hate. He's Mister Coke Sniffer; He's Mister Torture-Is-Great. They call me Shit Miser, whatever I touch...

by osterizer on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:05:04 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

because (none / 0)

It conjures up all sorts of things we are not, is incredibly misunderstood (see previous words), leads to stigmatization (see previous words), and leads to people thinking those with intersex are a myth.

But feel free to shake hands with my pal, Hermie:

S/he is a real hermaphrodite.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 06:17:02 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

well, you gotta call it something. (none / 0)

I don't know. I liked this diary, it was well-written. more so than my sack o' shit posts. But I still don't get it.

To me, and I'm a simple guy, if you have a dick, you are a man. A vagina, a woman. If you have both, then you are a hermaphrodite.

But really, youy are you. An individual. And if you wanna be a woman, despite your chromosomes and genitalia, go for it dude! If you wanna be a guy, but are limited by your clitoris, I say whay limit yourself?

It's a free country and really, you shouldn't give a FLYING FUCK what anyone else thinks about how you live life. Cause it's too short and prescious to waste worrying about what some fuckface thinks.

by Sam Loomis on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:25:38 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

thanks for the good hearty laugh (none / 0)

Thanks Sam. I don't really care anymore. The older I get, the less I care. LOL...when the freepers tried to beat me up because of the NYTimes article, I was tickled pink. When Lou Sheldon posted an action item on the Tradional Values Coalition about the intersex movement, I was ready to break open a bottle of champagne.

I speak out on this issue because it is something I am intimately familiar with and enjoy doing it, knowing it leads to education about our diversity as human beings.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 09:37:30 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

I stopped reading when by the 5th paragraph (1.50 / 2)

you still hadn't gotten to the point.

Don't play coy with the reader. Very annoying.

by kentclark on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:07:19 PM PDT

liberalism and conservatism and genital mutilation (none / 1)

Just some thoughts about how genital mutilation (whether ambiguous gender 'correction' or male circ) corresponds to overall political beliefs.

Both acts stem from an overall social conservatism. Some people are familiar with certain norms, and cannot imagine anything outside those norms - almost a primitive totemistic attitude. The foremost defender of circ on this pages, for all of her 'conservative' bashing, admits that she had never seen a normal male. Male circ rates are highest (we've heard claims of 95%) in...you guessed it.. the Midwest and South, Republican territory. They are lower (30% for CA) on the libruhl West Coast.

Really, the difference between conservatism and liberalism (as opposed to right wing vs left wing) is the degree of openmindedness and an ability to adopt an evidence-based (rather than prejuduce-based, or tradition based) view of life.

A liberal is much less likely to use "We've always done things this way" as a legitimate justification for an action. Everything always has to be rationally justified anew.

In other words, much of the difference between liberalism and conservatism is the difference between science and religion.

by tritium on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 07:29:35 PM PDT

We Should Decide (none / 1)

I think it should be up to the person what gender they are. I am worried about the time before they CAN decide, as society often imposes this upon them, but I still think a kid knows better than than the parent. I am the mother of three boys and they are welcome to be whomever they choose. At teen age, they are all heterosexual, but they all know it can be what they want.

It all has to do with what makes them feel the most comfortable. I had a gay uncle who faced more abuse by well meaning people and it ruined his life. At one point in the 1950s, they put him in a mental institute. Supposedly it was "better" to addict him to drugs and make him a zombie rather than be the funny, bright, talented man he was. It was a matter of others not accepting him rather than accepting him for himself. As a child watching this and not understanding why it was all happening, it made me angry to watch. Plus the man's life was in essence wasted as he struggled to be straight, married several times, denied who he was, and died an addict, even though he composed music on sheet like you and I write a letter, skillfully played many instruments by ear, wrote, and was a talented actor.

This ia disgusting to me and a waste of someone who could have given the world some amazing and wonderful things. I know people were often just trying to be loving, but it seemed to me it all boiled down to it being more their problem rather than his. It was not loving him, it was people loving themselves and ignoring who he was. It hurt him beyond words, trivialized him, and he was never able to accomplish things that might have made this world a more beautiful place.

A truer love is letting people be whomever they want and loving them for who they are. This is what I think.

My 2 cents...

Cat In Seattle

by mntleo2 on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 08:01:30 PM PDT

Thank you! (none / 1)

This is a vital subject, but unfortunately not very popular--it's certainly not as immediately relevant as social security or bankruptcy.

At least, not for the majority of the population. For the exceptions it's absolutely vital.

That division-by-length of "clitoris"/"penis" is so arbitrary. It always amazes me.

Also: Although this is kind of a side-point, Hermaphroditus isn't the only legendary/mythological character with ambiguous gender/sex. There's Loki (who was male, mostly, but who shapechanged--actually there are a lot of deities like that), Shiva (who had a form split between male and female, vertically), and a bunch of others. Although our modern society has a very big taboo on gender ambiguity and is practically obsessive-compulsive about making sure everyone fits into the binary gender model it wasn't always that way. (Quite the contrary to how the Christian extremists claim.)

The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

by Shapeshifter on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:24:46 PM PDT

Maybe this is tacky in Kossackland (4.00 / 2)

But I want to say thank-you for giving a damn about genital integrity and for taking the time to learn about intersex issues today.

When I posted it in the very early hours of Saturday morning, I didn't know what to expect.

I sat on this diary for a week and composed most of the upcoming installments while deciding whether or not to post this first one. When I did, I had no clue I would be spending a day reading it and responding to it.

It was ready three weeks ago but I kept chickening out on posting it. It wasn't because I am shy about the issue--talking about it on national teevee for the first time in my life several years back took care of that phobia.

Rather, it was because I was afraid of having other posters tell me to my face I was a freak or something equally offensive; and since I like DKos so much, I was a bit afraid it would color my reputation or and would lead me to post a GBCW or something similarly stupid.

When I woke this morning (well, afternoon, but it was morning somewhere), I was kind of blown away by the recommendations and posts. It's not the recommends that did it though--it was the thank-you's that posters wrote and the multitude of meaningful posts.

If you checked out the links I posted, you probably realized that most efforts are taking place in the LGBT arena and this was a bit of a new adventure for me. Thank you for making it an easy one.

All the replies has pushed me forward to polishing up the next segment about how this madness came about in the 1950s. If news stays slow, I'll post it late Friday night.

I hope that one will be as interesting as this one was.

Bill Frist is a real kitten killer.

by tvb on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:05:19 PM PDT

Looking forward to reading it! n/t (none / 0)

--
Blogs will matter when we act locally: Local Diaries on Daily Kos.

by miholo on Wed Oct 19, 2005 at 07:14:34 PM PDT
[ Parent ]

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