Very good article explaining intersex issues and how only too often a decision is made to “normalise” a child without waiting for informed consent – sometimes with terrible result …
“The surgeon’s approach was that I didn’t identify as a woman because I didn’t have a vagina,” says Mauro Cabral. After growing up in Argentina being treated as a girl, he discovered at the age of 14 that he didn’t have any internal female organs. Although he had always felt male, and still does, he was forced to undergo surgery to create a vagina.
“I’m still trying to understand what has happened and how to recover my life,” says Cabral, now an intersex and trans activist and co-director of Gate. “My experience is very similar to those who have suffered torture – when they try to speak, their societies and even families are not prepared to hear what happened.”
For about one in 2,000 people binary notions of male and female are particularly problematic. Research has found between 0.05% and 1.7% of the global population (pdf) are born with intersex traits – biological sex characteristics that don’t conform to typical notions of male or female. The upper estimation is around the same number of red haired people, yet intersex people are far less visible.
There are at least 40 intersex variations, ranging from genetic, chromosomal, anatomic and hormonal. In countries with access to western healthcare, it has become common practice to subject intersex children to medical interventions to make their bodies fit into the male/female binary,with damaging results.