The Intersex Roadshow: Trans and Intersex Children: Forced Sex Changes, Chemical Castration, and Self-Determination
Children’s lives lie at the center of social struggles over trans gender and intersex issues. If you talk with trans and intersex adults about the pain they’ve faced, the same issue comes up over and over again, from mirror-image perspectives: that of medical interventions into the sexed body of the child. Intersex and trans adults are often despairing over not having had a say as children over what their sexes should be, and how doctors should intervene. Meanwhile, transphobes and the mainstream backers of intersex “corrective” surgery also focus on medical intervention into children’s bodies. They frame interventions into the sexual characteristics of intersex children as heroic and interventions into the bodies of trans children as horrific.
The terms and claims that get tossed around in these debates are very dramatic. Mutilation. Suicide. Chemical castration. Forced sex changes.
We need to understand what’s going on here, because it’s the central ethical issue around which debates about intersex and trans bodies swirl. The issue here is the question of self-determination, of autonomy. Bodily autonomy is the shared rallying cry of trans and intersex activists, though we might employ it in opposite ways. Refusing it to us is framed as somehow in our best interests by our opponents.
In this post we will look at how four groups frame the issue: intersex people, trans people, the mainstream medical professionals who treat intersex people, and opponents of trans rights.
Read the whole thing
Read the whole thing. The more I read of Intersex Roadshow, the more I love it. The lack of respect for the autonomy of children is disgusting. Though, it’s not like non-privileged people get much more respect as adults…
"One experience that the overwhelming majority of maternity-home residents, and many white unwed mothers who did not make it to these homes, did share was the experience of giving their babies up for adoption. In the years before Roe v. Wade the experts were, again, pretty unanimously agreed that only the most profoundly disturbed unwed mothers kept their babies, instead of turning them over to a nice, middle-class man and woman who could provide the baby with a proper family. Leontine Young, the prominent authority on social casework theory in the are of unwed mothers, cautioned in 1953, “the caseworker has to clarify for herself the differences between the feelings of the normal [married] woman for her baby and the fantasy use of the child by the neurotic unmarried mother.”
For complex cultural, historical, and economic reasons, black, single pregnant women were not, in general, spurned by their families or shunted out of their communities into maternity homes, which usually had “white only” policies in any case. For the most part, black families accepted the pregnancy and made a place for the new mother and child. As one Chicago mother of a single black pregnant teenager said at the time, “It would be immortal to place the baby [for adoption]. That would be throwing away your own flesh and blood.” In contrast to the very large percentage of white girls and women who gave up their babies for adoption, about nine out of ten blacks kept theirs. In a postwar New York study, 96 percent of blacks keeping their babies reported deep satisfaction with this decision eighteen months later. Yet welfare and social caseworkers persisted for years in their claims that the only reason why blacks kept their babies was that no one would want them.
Social workers and other human service professionals claimed repeatedly that black single pregnancy was the product of family and community disorganization. Yet in comparing the family and community responses and blacks and whites to out-of-wedlock pregnant and childbearing, it is striking how the black community organized itself to accommodate mother and child while the white community was totally unwilling and unable to do so. The white community simply organized itself to expel them Still, black girls and women who became pregnant while single faced a forceful array of prejudices and policies threatening to the well-being of poor, minority, single mothers and their children."
Rickie Solinger, Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade
I’ve barely started this book and already have a bunch of passages marked.
this reminds me of what BA was saying about how white people treat *each other* horribly. and are dumbfounded and pissed and disbelieving when they find out POC don’t treat each other so poorly.
We’re rocking out to my political punk Pandora station here at the house. Squishy (our 10 month old) is enjoying their self immensely. They got a lot of punk and folk in utero so it only makes sense….
Lots of singing, dancing and smiling from this Squishy.
Train your children young to dismantle the hetero/cis/male/white-centric capitalist kyriarchy.
Nothing like independent development of thoughts and opinions!
“Train” your kids, folks.
How about ‘training’ your kids to develop the skills necessary in facilitating their growth into responsible mature adults? Nah, better to instill a victim complex before they’re old enough to spell h-o-r-s-e-s-h-i-t.
Also, ‘they/their? Please don’t tell me you’re projecting your own distorted sense of self onto a 10 month old infant?
This is fucking disgusting. Will you reprimand it when it learns to talk and (in all likelihood) expresses an innate/un-imposed interest in toys and activites appropriate to its gender? What will you say then? Will re-education and personality correction be on the agenda?
People like you really should not be having kids. You’ve given your child an identity before it has even opened its mouth to declare what it thinks it is. Is that the sort of treatment radical, free-thinking parents render onto their infants? Bring down the binaries and replace them with your own ones. Absurd.
Guess what? You’re opinion about whether we should have kids or not is irrelevant. US QUEERS CAN BREED and you can’t do jack shit to stop us.
And if you think there is such a thing as innate, unimposed interest in specific gendered anything, then you need to do something about that rock you live under. Or tell me where this vacuum exists that you apparently think you were raised in.
Seriously, y’all. One post about what music we listen to at home tells you all this about how we raise our child? TEACH ME YOUR PSYCHIC WAYS, OH OMNIPOTENT DOUCHEBAGS!
Fear of us queers breeding, fear of queer kids, fear of letting children discover the world and identify themselves instead of imposing reality on them, fear that their lies will be obvious when we don’t conform… so much fear. Fear of a queer planet (with apologies to NWA).
"In an era when many feminists are (in my opinion rightly) dismayed by the suggestion that a woman’s right to an abortion should be subject to conditions, I have been shocked by the high level of acceptance when it comes to the notion that women who formula feed should be forced to justify their choice, not only to medical staff, but to pro-breastfeeding women. While I have never seen anyone claim that formula is better than - or even equal to - breast milk, a large number of women are vociferously and uncompromisingly against a woman’s right to choose formula milk. I have witnessed a sizeable number of women, some of whom are self-declared feminists, debating on one another’s social media profiles and calling for formula to be made illegal."
Lorrie Hearts, at the f word.
This whole post - which is about a hospital ceasing to provide free formula to the women who give birth there in an effort to be “baby friendly” - is a great, important read. I just want to add one thing, though. Hearts writes that she’s never seen anyone claim that formula is better or the same as breastmilk. Well, for me, formula feeding was absolutely, 100% better than breastfeeding. Like, life changing better. I wrote a column earlier this year about it, so I won’t rehash the whole thing here. But truly, refusing to give mothers access to formula is not “baby friendly” or helpful - it’s shaming and in some cases could be very dangerous. Enough already.
And this shows where Valenti goes wrong. She says that because formula feeding was better than breastfeeding for her that formula is better than breastmilk. No, never, not true. That’s a failure in facts and logic. Formula has less health benefits to babies than breastmilk. Now, this doesn’t mean formula should never be used but it is a huge downside of it that it is markedly inferior to breastmilk. Thus, formula feeding may be best in a situation but that never means that formula is better than breastmilk.
"People love to have mercy and sympathy for everything, from the animals to the whales to fur, everything.. Except us; your youth. The ones you give no attention to, who become adults with no compassion. I feel like if you’re walking down the street, walking on some concrete, and you see a rose growing out of concrete, even if it had messed up petals or its a little, you know, to the side, you would marvel at just seeing a rose grow from concrete. So why is it that when you see some ghetto kid grow out of all of the dirtiest circumstances, and he can talk and he can sit across from you and make you smile, make you cry, make you laugh, all you’re gonna talk about is my dirty rose, my dirty stems, and how I’m leaning crooked to the side? You can’t even see that I came up out of that shit. And that’s exactly the analogy that I use for me."
Tupac Amaru Shakur (via comingbackwithpower)
(Source: guccimani, via postmodsexgeek)