Both our readings on intersex individuals as well as our readings on trans individuals present an interesting view of medical professionals as gate-keepers of knowledge. Surgeons, in these cases, have the power to radically affect someone’s identity.
For trans individuals, surgeons are gate-keepers of knowledge in that only they can decide to help a trans by matching their physical sex to their psychological gender. The whole medical community plays a gate-keeper role when trans individuals are forced to complete extensive therapy before receiving treatment. In this example, the medical community is attempting to ensure that individuals are staying within the sexual norms.
In the case of intersex individuals, medical practitioners also act as gate-keepers of knowledge. New parents are likely to fuss over every little thing about their baby and place a lot of trust in doctors. Fausto-Sterling makes the argument that these doctors, when faced with an intersex child, will not present parents with the full options but rather tell the parents that the baby “should” have been born a certain way, and then change the genitalia. In this example as well as the example of trans individuals, medical professionals are withholding information in an attempt to keep people inside the norm of the sexual binary.
Why? I do not believe this is analogous to a child born with an extra finger or toe, because parents in this case have a say in its removal. The with-holding of information is a sign that the medical community (and probably larger American community) is very threatened when the boundaries of female and male are pushed. I believe that the outrage may come from the fact that gender is such a stable identifier in our society, and people are worried that they may not be able to make sense of their world without it. People are frustrated when they cannot categorize someone by the most basic form of identity- sex.
Whatever the case, I feel that it does no good to try to convince people to fit inside of the sexual binary for our own comfort if they don’t. Fausto-Sterling’s idea of 5 sexes may have been in jest, but her idea of thinking of sex and gender as a spectrum is very instructive. This would remove the emotional, psychological, and physical pain from children who have been assigned a sex that does not match their psychological gender. It also will help trans individuals to make the transition they need to feel more at home in their own bodies.