The Genocide of Intersex People


American Grotesque posted The Genocide of Intersex People on 11/28/11. I recently came across it while catching up on twitter and facebook during my holiday break (a true luxury for a resident!). In this post the author discusses the damage perpetuated by the myth of binary gender, its social construction and legal ramification. The author places hir-self in the place of “patients” whose bodies defy the myth and without consent are reconstructed to appear to confirm it. Yet in spite of appearances they remain outside of the binary and their shame and scars and are shrouded in secrecy and silence. Is this moral? Is this fair? Is this just?

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. [And] In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ―Martin Luther King Jr

3 thoughts on “The Genocide of Intersex People”

  1. Cutting the genitals of infant boys without consent to make them “normal” (look like daddy) is still relatively common in the USA and some other parts of the world. The prevalence of male circumcision and it’s normalizing excuse shouldn’t be overlooked for those questioning the motives of adults forcing intersex normalizing surgeries upon infants. The secrecy and shame that shield these surgeries from scrutiny, the aura of medical respectability when cutting healthy genital tissue of any child, the medical and social excuses for doing so are intimately linked. Forcing an innocent child’s genitals to conform to our culture’s narrow definitions of what is normal and by some arbitrary adult with a scalpel is a severe violation of that child’s most basic human right, to body integrity.


    1. “We have 2 sons. One was born with female gelatinia, so circumcision didn’t come up.”Jen, you are clearly awesome. My boyfriend is like this too.2) Reiterating some comments above, male circumcision is nothing like female genital mutilation. A lot of people seem to think the two are comparable (foreskin removed on boys, therefore clitoral hood removed on girls). That is the least invasive type of female genital mutilation, but even with this type, there is intense pain when peeing, when having intercourse, and even when clothes rub against your gelatinia (remember the clitoris has many more nerve endings than the head of a penis!) Most female genital mutilation is more invasive than this, and may involve: removal of the clitoris entirely, removal of part or all of the labia minor, removal of part or all of the walls of the labia major, stitching closed whatever is left open (leaving a small opening for menstrual blood and urine to escape). It is not the same as male circumcision, and “if we don’t allow female circumcision, we shouldn’t allow male circumcision” is NOT a valid argument. The Wikipedia article on the subject is pretty graphic.3) My personal opinion? I wouldn’t have my kids circumcised, because I would not personally feel comfortable making decisions about my kids’ bodies FOR my kids, no matter their age. But I definitely wouldn’t condemn other people from doing it — it has a very long tradition, and while there is evidence that circumcision dampens both the male’s and their partner’s sexual pleasure, people have clearly done just fine, even being circumcised. In some areas of the world (though not the U.S.) hygiene may be a valid reason to circumcise, and I can understand the religious traditions too.No matter my personal feelings though, I don’t think it is right to mandate non-circumcision as a law. As someone pointed out, it seems to be a dying trend in America, and it is getting that way by way of education and example. Now, a law that mandates that new mothers be given more information about the pros and cons of circumcision before making their own decision. I’d back that in a heartbeat!


  2. The “optimal gender policy” was the theory promulgated by John Money which gained traction in the 1950’s and ‘enacted’ (for want of a better word) by surgeons to assign a sex to those of us born with ambiguous genitals: simply put, it posited that surgically modifying infant genitals and with-holding that information would enable that person to grow up with a sex congruent with their genitals. And so we who were born ‘different’ were modified and managed; in secrecy, with deception. AIS, CAH et al were all denied autonomy in how our bodies were managed. We were not valued as we were. Apparently, acceptance into society was dependant on surgery to ‘normalise us” . Well, well ….. it didn’t quite work out like that.

    I have CAH. I lived in that parallel universe. Simply put, it was and is wrong. Those of us born differently should have autonomy over our own lives. It is for us to choose surgery: or not as we wish. I cannot for the life of me think what positive value can be given to clitoral surgery. We who are different challenge the perceived normality of the male/female binary, or as I call them”the ordinarys”. It is their fear of us that has allowed this barbarity to continue.


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