Tuesday, August 24, 2010

For more news on Intersex, Visit OII-Austrailia

Please visit OII-Australia for more up-to-date news on intersex.

Click here

Monday, August 9, 2010

Guidelines recommend shared decision-making between parents, physicians in sex development treatments

Karkazis K. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2010;23:789-806.

A shared decision-making process would encourage both parents and physicians to take an active role in determining the most beneficial treatment for patients with disorders of sex development who are considering surgical intervention, researchers suggested.

Complete article: Click here

Friday, July 23, 2010

MichFest Workshop Challenges Womyn-Born-Womyn Policy and Medical Practices: “Disordered or Just Different?”

I will present a workshop at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MichFest) on Friday, August 6th, from 12:30 to 2:30 pm in the Media Tent. This presentation is the same talk entitled “Disordered or Just Different? Myth, Science and Sexuality” that has been well-received at two other venues recently (see previous posts). The title is shortened to “Myth, Science, and Sexuality” to meet the publishing specifications for the 2010 MichFest booklet.

Complete article: Click here

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Double sex inmate ‘must pay for sins’

Posted Thursday, July 15 2010 at 22:05

An intersex robbery convict fighting for legal recognition was on Thursday told to “pay for your sins as you were never denied schooling because of your gender.”

A group calling itself Kenya Christian Lawyers Fellowship asked a three-judge bench of the constitutional court to disregard pleas by Richard Muasya to be released from Kamiti because of his unique sex condition.

Dropped out

The group drew the court’s attention to affidavits by Muasya’s relatives that he went to school but dropped out, saying he could not see the board, contrary to claims that he was denied education because of his sex.

The affidavits were sworn by Muasya’s mother and his maternal grandmother, Ms Damaris Siyongo.

According to the affidavits, despite concerted efforts to have Muasya go back to school he refused, opting to fetch water.

Presenting his case in court on Tuesday Muasya, who has both male and female organs, said he was denied an education because of his gender.

He sought to introduce a third gender in the law books when his lawyer, Mr John Chigiti, said his client did not have a birth certificate because his sexuality was not legally recognised. The court will make a ruling on September 29.

Source: Click here

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Excerpt from article:

This year New and Nimkam wrote that they believed that prenatal dexamethasone therapy can reduce “behavioral masculinisation” in CAH girls including same-sex attraction and tom-boy type behaviours.

Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia spokesperson Gina Wilson told Sydney Star Observer they strongly opposed any forced or unconsented normalisation of Intersex children.

“We hold that both surgery on intersex newborns and non-consenting children, forced gendering and the administration of drugs to reinforce gender and gender behaviour whether pre or post natal is essentially homophobic,” Wilson said.

OII Australia recommends any intervention should be left until an intersex child is old enough to express their own wishes regarding treatment.

Wilson said that as far as OII Australia was aware, all hospitals in Australia recommended the early sex assignment of children with intersex conditions to parents and it was possible that dexamethasone was being prescribed to women carrying CAH girls in Australia.

Wilson welcomed Dreger speaking out on the issue but noted that she and some colleagues had pushed for intersex conditions to be renamed “disorders of sex development” for clinical purposes – a term OII Australia feels to be stigmatising.

Complete article: Click here

Thursday, July 8, 2010

DiManno: Semenya’s long ordeal over as IAAF clears South African to compete

By Rosie DiMannoColumnist


Her voice is deep, in the lowest alto range for a female. Her breasts are non-existent, hips boyishly slim.

Throughout her life, when she looked in the mirror, Caster Semenya saw a girl. She apparently never doubted her gender. Certainly her parents believed they’d raised a daughter — one who, as it turned out, could run like the wind.

The International Association of Athletics Federations was not so sure.

For 11 months the IAAF had left Semenya hanging, ever since the South African athlete crushed the field in the 800-metre final at the world championships in Berlin. Some competitors, astonished by the muscular Semenya’s overwhelming dominance in that race — a two-second margin of victory — and her dramatically improving times, complained that she had to be a he — just look at her.

So the IAAF looked. Medical experts looked. Lawyers looked.

The teenager’s mortification can only be imagined.

On Tuesday, the global track and field authorities who had ordered gender verification testing finally released their verdict, clearing Semenya to resume her career as a girl runner — perhaps as soon as the world junior championships in Moncton, N.B., on July 19.

Yet the statement issued by the IAAF was oddly imprecise, which might very well provoke challenges — at the very least fail to smother disgruntlement — from Semenya’s running opponents.

“The process initiated in 2009 in the case of Caster Semenya has now been completed,” the government body stated tersely. “The IAAF accepts the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that she can compete with immediate effect.”

Her gold medal and race times have been formally recognized and Semenya will receive an undisclosed financial “settlement” for her ordeal.

But nothing was stated flatly about Semenya — rumoured to be a hermaphrodite, meaning she has both male and female sexual organs (though the second set of genitalia could be internal) — being a female, full stop. Medical details will not be released.

“Why should they be out there?” Semenya’s lawyer, Greg Nott, told South African television last night. “Would you like your sex records to be made public?”

For the past three weeks, Semenya has been participating in a training camp in Pretoria, along with the rest of this country’s track team. She had declined interviews but her coach, Michael Seme, described his star as “unfit” physically and merely going through the motions as she waited — and waited — for an outcome to her case, a decision repeatedly deferred by the IAAF. “She can’t do any speed work or prepare to race until we know when she can compete,” Seme told reporters last week.

The waiting, the pending, is now over. Why the process took so long has not been explained. A month ago, South African Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile scrapped a press conference at which it was assumed the medical results would be revealed. That was just one more false start for Semenya, and she’s endured many since last August’s compromised triumph.

The 19-year-old released a statement Tuesday afternoon, expressing her delight at being able to race again. “I am thrilled to enter the global athletic arena once again and look forward to competing with all the disputes behind me.”

But only hours earlier, in a brief phone interview with Associated Press, Semenya had said: “I don’t feel anything.”

What she has clearly felt, all these long months, is embarrassment, as the most intimate details of her being were debated around the world, after news was leaked that the IAAF was scrutinizing her gender. Different sports federations follow different rules about determining sex. The International Olympic Committee no longer requires mandatory gender testing, though it continues to struggle in drafting guidelines to help federations handle “ambiguous” athletes who may have “disorders of sex development,” as some doctors describe the condition.

It has been a humiliating experience for the teen, suddenly famous — and notorious — for what may or may not be between her legs.

What’s not clear, and likely will never be publicized, is whether Semenya underwent any medical procedure or testosterone-suppressing treatment during her long layoff.

Nott insisted Semenya has come through her public trial with honour intact. “Caster’s dignity has been repaired by her own grace and her own strength.”

He conceded not all of Semenya’s competitors will accept this decision. A few, during the past year, have threatened to boycott races if Semenya was allowed to compete as a female.

“It’s up to them if they want to challenge it,” said Nott. “There may be athletes who do not accept her, but there has also been an outpouring of love and support.”

He further claimed that sponsors have come forward with potential endorsement deals for the runner.

“We’re going to see our golden girl in her track shoes and ready to compete.”

Source: Click here

Preventing homosexuality in utero: Could we? Would we? Should we?

July 2, 2010 | 7:00 am

A workhorse drug that's been around for decades has, in recent weeks, stirred up a biomedical debate that will likely resonate with any parent who's ever asked him or herself: If I could prevent my child from being gay, would I?

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that has been widely used in the treatment of arthritis, of intestinal, kidney and thyroid disease, in certain kinds of cancers. It's also been prescribed to — and used by — pregnant women carrying female babies who are at genetic risk of a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH.

Children born with the genetic anomaly will need a lifetime of medication to ensure their normal growth, sexual development and reproductive function. But for girls, one manifestation of CAH is evident at birth: her external genitalia will look more masculine than feminine. The resulting person used to be called a hermaphrodite. The preferred term now is intersex, a condition of gender ambiguity that can be caused by a number of different conditions.

Dexamethasone, when administered in utero, appears to correct the development of a female fetus' genitalia. As a result, it relieves parents and child of a difficult decision — to have later corrective surgery, with all of its risks.

That a parent should take it upon him or herself to "correct" a child's ambiguous gender identity is debatable enough. (The Intersex Society of North America maintains that "parents' distress must not be treated by surgery on the child.") What ignites serious controversy is a side effect of prenatal dexamethasone — its ability to feminize, not just the external genitalia of a girl with CAH, but her internal outlook and her behavior. That is significant because among CAH's more subtle effects, according to Mount Sinai Medical Center endocrinologist Dr. Maria I. New, is that women who have it tend to be more masculine in their behavior and interests, including sexual attraction to women. New has been a leading researcher on CAH and, in an earlier practice, is reported to have prescribed dexamethasone. She and a research collaborator, Columbia University psychologist Heino F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg, has investigated at length the "psychosocial" as well as medical issues faced by those with CAH.

In short, dexamethasone seems to hold the promise not only of sparing a child a difficult and risky surgery, it may also redirect a sexual trajectory that will lead to bisexuality or lesbianism.

That, say bioethicists, is going too far. In a recent posting on the Bioethics Forum of the Hastings Center, a nonpartisan bioethics institute based in Garrison, N.Y., Alice Dreger, Ellen K. Feder and Anne Tamar-Mattis warn that treatment of the external manifestations of CAH are debaeable enough in and of themselves: But, in this case, that treatment will make it possible for some parents to take actions motivated -- at least in part -- by a desire to prevent their child from becoming a homosexual.

Dreger, Feder and Tamar-Mattis suggest that in insisting that homosexuality is not a choice but a biologically determined fact of identity, gay and lesbian rights activists may have set themselves up for medical researchers to see sexual orientation as a condition that can be "fixed." They "should be wary of claims that the innateness of homosexuality will lead to liberation," they wrote. Instead, it might "very well lead to new means of pathologization and prevention," write the bioethicists.

Also unclear is whether the use of dexamethasone by pregnant women is safe — or for that matter, effective. Neither has been demonstrated by clinical trials. The prescribing of a drug in treatment of a condition other than that for which the Food and Drug Administration has approved it — called off-label — is very common and legal. But the debatable use of dexamethasone in pregnant women has caused sufficient concern among endocrinologists that the Endocrine Society next month is expected to issue a consensus document warning physicians who prescribe prenatal dexamethasone for CAH that the treatment should be considered experimental. That imposes far greater ethical strictures on physicians: They must seek the approval of an ethics and safety review board and satisfy other conditions designed to protect a patient's rights.

Want to know more about what researchers have learned about the bases of homosexuality, and the ethical debates that result? Here's an article on the subject from the LA Times Health section.

--Melissa Healy

Source: Click here