Since my first women’s and gender studies class, the topic of intersexuality has always been of interest to me. Although I had often heard the term hermaphrodite, I had not truly understood what it mean since it had always been to an extent “mythological,” as Chase says. The idea of gender reassignment surgery has always seemed like a complex issue. As the readings discussed there is not a lot of documentation on “true hermaphrodites” and intersex children, which I believe makes the pressures for parents to rush into assignment surgery greater. Although I think that it would be difficult for many parents not to have a gender assigned to their children in hopes to create some “normalcy,” I think waiting is the best choice for the child.
One interesting point from the essay is the fact that African genital mutilation is perceived as a serious problem, whereas the gender reassignment surgeries are not seen as problematic in our society. I also found it interesting that circumcision in general is not seen as genital mutilation.
I think that as discussions about intersex and the negative effects of these surgeries become more prominent, it will help to create a better understanding to not only medical professionals, but also the general public. According to Zeiler and Wickstrom, “we perceive and interpret the world and other beings through our bodies and we perceive and interpret our bodies through the world and other beings.” When intersex children are deprived of interpreting the word through their choice of sex, it creates a complex sense of self as seen in Chase’s story.
Furthermore, The five sexes proposed by Sterling seem like a perpetuation of the problematic categorization that society is obsessed with. Although it creates more of a spectrum, I am not sure it is the best way to distinguish varying intersex bodies. I truly wonder how to overcome the need to categorize especially in terms of gender and sex.