Sunday, October 11, 2009

Engendered Questions for T.O.’s Sick Kids

Written by Laura Glowacki
October 8, 2009

The organization Intersex International is not happy with Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital. In November the hospital is co-sponsoring—along with the Cleveland Clinic and IHSID—the III World Congress Hypospadias and Disorders of Sex Development.

Intersex International takes issue with the term “disorders of sex development” in the conference title. They say this term undermines the rights of children born intersex, or children with both male and female sex organs.

The advocacy group explains that the term encourages parents and society in general to consider intersex like a cleft pallet—a minor DNA mix-up that can be easily remedied with a snip here and cut there. Intersex International is not against surgery per say but thinks a child should have a say in what sex they are ultimately assigned.

Curtis Hinkle, a spokesman from Intersex International, said the IHSID (the International Society on Hypospadias and Intersex Disorders) recommends ‘correcting’ sex ambiguity in infants within the first six months of their lives. Hinkle said the University of Toronto’s is legitimizing IHSID’s recommendation and this should send a chill down the backs of Canadians. “Most Canadians aren’t aware of the retrograde practices coming out of Ontario,” he said.

Hinkle said the surgeries are sometimes irreversible and that doctors can often guess wrong when deciding whether an infant is male or female. “Gender identity is not science it is a pseudo-science,” he argued.

According to the Intersex Society of North America about one in every 100 babies are born with bodies that differ from the “standard male or female.” About one in every 1500 is born intersex.

I sent an email to a representative from the ISHID and will update if there is any word back.

More to think about at CitizenShift…

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