As athletic leaders meet to decide the sex of the South African runner, our writer reveals that the NHS has pioneered a new approach to the hundreds of UK babies born each year of unclear sex
When Sophia, 45, from Brighton, was born with a genetic condition (called 5-ARD) that made her sex initially unclear, her parents were told nothing. This secrecy by the medical teams was absolutely standard. “They didn’t know what I was, but all they said to my parents was, ‘there’s a problem, we’re doing some kind of repair’.”
She was sent home to an almost impossible life. Her parents were told she was a boy, but they “picked up something strange was going on”. Meanwhile the botched “repair” made life as a boy utterly miserable.
In adulthood Sophia now lives (“exists” is the word she uses) as a woman, campaigning passionately against surgery to “normalise” babies. Wouldn’t it be kinder, I ask, to make a child less different in the eyes of their peers, to spare the taunts? “That argument is countered by the messiness the surgery itself causes,” she says.
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