Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thanks to ABC for their sensitive portrayal of the birth of an intersex child

Many of the members of the Organisation Intersex International wish to express their gratitude to the producers of the show Private Practice for their very sensitive and realistic episode on the birth of an intersex baby. This episode aired February 19, 2009 and was entitled "Wait and See"
Season 2, Episode 217

The way intersex was discussed on this episode was really a breakthrough as far as prime time US television. There were some very interesting details in this episode which reveal how intersex was REALLY handled in the United States.

I know that many people have this mistaken impression that in the United States the John Money protocols were in effect. They really weren't in effect in most hospitals in the US. Very few hospitals in the US had gender clinics and the option to raise the child as male was often the choice of many parents. This show dealt with that openly.

This episode also dealt with gender outcomes (which they clearly said could be male, even when the child has XX chromosomes and CAH). It dealt with the fact that many parents in the US have chosen to raise these children who are "female" according to the Chicago Consensus as males and it dealt with the FACT that virilization of these children was often undertaken.

It ended with the surgeon refusing to do the surgery and letting people have time to wait and see what the child would decide.

I applaud the producers of this show which will help people understand that John Money was a scapegoat for people who have an aversion to any discussion of gender identity issues and who are biological fundamentalists.

This show was in total agreement with OII's own Official Position on Health care.

Thank you!
Curtis E. Hinkle
Founder, Organisation Intersex International

I watched the ABC Private Practice episode tonight which covered the treatment of an intersexed newborn. I think it was the best treatment of the subject on prime time television ever. I give it five stars. As a physician trained in alternative medicine, it was a pleasure seeing an alternative to gender policing, social-surgical determinism, misguided mandatory treatment enforcement of intersexed children, as well as an alternative to pathologizing models of intersex such as disorders of sex or sexual development (DSD). I recommend that it be shown to medical students, interns and residents, and translated into different languages for a world wide audience. Kudos to the production staff of Private Practice for presenting such a sensitive, humanistic and patient centered perspective to intersex and for demonstrating that child intersex patient autonomy and self-gender identification should never be compromised by any agent of society.

Respectfully Yours,

M. Italiano, MB BS (AM)
Advisor on Biosex Variations, Organisation Intersex International

OII's public thank you is on this page of our website:

OII will continue to add comments to this page as they come in.


  1. I would disagree with ABC's portrayal of normalizing surgery as simple, quick, and final. Also, the show focused on whether the child's gender identity would MATCH the parents' choice of genital normalizing surgery, as if guessing wrong was the worst case outcome. In fact, the worst case is ANY surgery, as it can only degrade the performance and pleasure receptivity of the child's genital tissue.

    I would also point out that everything that was said in the show about the child having a right to decide also applies to every American boy threatened with circumcision. Since when do only children with atypical anatomy have a right to self-determination?

    Intact bodies feel REALLY good. Let the child decide.

  2. 'the surgeon refused to do surgery and said wait and see what the child decides it would be'...that sounds as though Intersex needs renaming DELAYED GENDER IDENTITY?

  3. Um, no. Gender Identity does not even show itself in children until the age of 3 (like your personality). This is shown in a multitude of studies. You're not delaying the gender identity by not performing the surgery. You're delaying the gender-role reenforcement that our society is so hung up on.