I posted my last rant, about the treatment of intersex infants, to my family blog, as well as this one. This morning, I got a response from my grandpa that infuriated me.
Thank you for your borgs - especially the one about professor Boellstorff and his views on hermaphrodites. My dear, it certainly sounds to both Thelma and I that this man is just pulling your leg a little. Everything you say he said cannot possibly be true! As a simple explanation of that, you know that only a female can ever have the internal oprgans necessary to be a female. Sexual sensations? Yes, maybe some, but probably not the real thing. Conversley, only a male can ever possess the organs and capabbility to be an host-to-God male. The penis (or clitoris) size has very little to do with these procedures. This man would have us believe (if I read you right) that the sex of a newborn baby can be changed at will - RUBBISH!
Certainly, some sex change operations do happen, but they cant change the insides. Also, I'm sure some infants have had their gender operationally enhanced to reflect their TRUE gender, buit what would be the point in changing an obvious male with small penis to an inferetile female? It may even be possible that in some parts of the world these things are done at the whim of a physician, but here in America? I dont think they could get away with it for 5 minutes - too much media and immediate public opinion exist today. Even the attendant nurses would sue the hospital. Some shenanigans may have been pulled a few decades or more ago, but today? I dont think so.
If I were you I would have some very succinct questions for that gentleman.
[snipped stuff irrelevant to the topic]
Love 'ya Papa
MROWWWWWRRRRR. This stuff DOES happen. Today. In 2003, and no amount of denial is going to change it. Open your mind, accept it, and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Anyway. Ahem. Here's the response I'm sending him:
Hey, there. :) Glad to hear from you.
[snipped stuff irrelevant to the topic]
As for the blog rant about hermaphrodites...yeah, the information surprised me, too. It's difficult to accept that such things DO happen today. I've attached the article that we read for class, "Hermaphrodites with Attitude", to this email. It talks a lot about the gender assignation practices--and you'll notice it's copyright 1998. It's in PDF format, so you'll need Adobe Reader to read it (if you don't have it, you can download it online for free). Things haven't changed much, if at all, in the past five years.
"Conversley, only a male can ever possess the organs and capabbility to be an host-to-God male."
You're right--it's impossible to change a woman into a true male, or a male into a true woman. The gender assignation surgeries don't give the infants the genitals of the opposite sex--they give them the APPEARANCE. Because, as I said, it's more important that they look normal. 90% of intersex children are determined to be female, because it's "easier to make a hole than build a pole". But for those that are deemed male, and are given a surgically manufactured penis, it doesn't function as a true penis. It *looks* like one, but it doesn't get an erection, and the urethra is located beneath the "penis", so they don't urinate out of it, either. It's there for appearances, so that the child looks "normal", to try to get rid of the "matter out of place".
Also, you appeared to miss the point of these being intersex infants--children whose genetic, hormonal, or physical makeup differ from the commonly accepted norms for "male" or "female". They're given these surgeries in order to make them appear normal, to get rid of the "matter out of place" that crosses our cultural boundaries of what should and shouldn't be. They aren't how they should be, so doctors have to fix it.
What about true hermaphrodites--people born with genital material of both genders? There are people born with a vagina and undescended testes, for example, or reproductive organs that are neither male nor female, but part ovary, part teste, fused together. This is much of my point--that instead of accepting these children as they are, we feel the need to "fix" them, and in result, often emotionally as well as physically harm them for life.
That's as much as I've got right now. I'm pissed, so it's hard for me to see what I might be leaving out that needs to be mentioned. Any comments, suggestions, additions would be very welcomed.