This is a post that I wrote for Feministing a few weeks ago. I wanted to cross-post it here because this issue, of kids born with intersex conditions, definitely comes up for birth workers. While you may not have had this experience yet, it’s possible that one day you will be with a family when their child is born with an intersex condition. This could lead to all sorts of responses from the midwives or doctors you are working with–including the decision to perform surgeries on the infant.
It’s a huge issue, and one that is difficult to tackle in a blog post. But it’s one that I would like to keep writing about. Just as I talk about gender and the ways folks identify outside of the binary of male and female, there is also the biological fact of gender diversity, exemplified by folks who are born with intersex conditions.
At the moment of birth, when the doctor/midwife/practitioner wants to issue the hallmark phrase–“It’s a boy/girl!” if there is any confusion around this, it becomes a huge issue.
Maybe it shouldn’t be–and maybe one day we’ll move away from such a strong propensity toward gender categorization. In the meantime, we’re dealing with doctors who would rather employ experimental hormonal treatments in utero and perform radical medically unnecessary surgeries on infants than deal with gender ambiguity.
Obviously I have a strong opinion on the matter. The post below has more info, if you’re confused about what I’m saying.