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Genital Cutting the Intersex Movement Chase

Genital Cutting the Intersex Movement Chase

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Published by: Biz Tutarız Bırak Atsın on Mar 17, 2011
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02/03/2013

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GenitalCuttingandTransnationalSisterhood
DisputingU.S.Polemtcs
EDITEDBYSTANLIEM.JAMESANDCLAIREC. ROBERTSON
Univcrsityof lllinoisPress
IJIII' NANI)(]}II CAGO
 
I
Contents
l)rologuc:PositionPaperon Clitoritlcctortry rtrttlIrIIi I Irr|.rtir rWonrcn'sCaucusof theAfrican SttttlicsAssttcirttiotttlnlro(luction:ReilnagingliansnrtionltlSistcr'lrrxrrlrSt,tttlttMlntnt:satd CItirc Cllob':ttsottSc.rlcltirtglirr"Voices":Fctttinisnt,Atrthropology,,ttrrltlrttilrrb.rll)cb|tc'ovcrF-enralc(;enil0l()pclirliorrstit ln istirtLl\Mrllty(i(l t irrgl)cyon(lthc Ewl liictor llcthinkirrgL,l.S.Allit.rrrlrcrrrlrlc(lcrlital(htting54,,1
(lttit((. l<ol\'t llotr
o 2oo2by theBoardofTrusteesof thc UniversityoflllinoisAll rightsreservedManufacturedin theUnitedStatesofAmericac5432t@Thisbookisprirrted,rn .rrid-lreep.rper.Libr,rryof CongressCataLoging-in-PublicationDataGenrl1rlcutting and transnatioDalsisterbood: dlsputingU.S.polemics/editedby StarlieM.Jamesand ClaireC. Robertson.p,cnl.InchLdesbibliographicalrcferencesand index.rsBN0-252-02741-8(cloth:alk.paper)r. Femxlecircu rcision.:.Infibulation.r.Olitoritlccrorny.4.Fenruristtheory-Africir.5.I;crrrir)islll)cory tJnitr(lSlll(.sI.l.rnlcs,StaDlicM(StanlicMyrisc)ll. I{obcrtson,tilairt.{i,re,1,;
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5."CulturalPractice"or"ReconstructiveSurgery"?U.S.GenitalCutting,the IntersexMovement,and MedicalDoubleStandards
CHERYL CHASE
ONEoF rHE FoRMSofpowerthatmaintainsgenderboundariesinthedit-ed Statesis thesurgical"correction"of infantswhosegenitalsaredeemedby medicalprofessionalsto be sociallyunacceptable.Media andscholarlydiscourseson"femalegenitalmutilation," however,havenotengagedthesesurgeries,insteadservingup only representationsofAfricanwomen.Thesediscoursescontinuea long traditionof making Africansinto the"other,"suggestingthat ethnocentrismis a key factor in thesometimespurposefulmaintenanceofignoranceaboutcontemporaryU.S.genitalsurgeries.Thisessaywill describehowAmericansparticipatein theproductionofnorma-tively sexedbodiesfrom thoseborn intersexed,the consequencesof suchgenitalsurgeriesfor thosesubjectedto them,the effortsof intersexpeopleto organizeto eliminatepediatricgenitalsurgeriesand howthoseeffortshavebeentreatedby manyfeminists, andthe doublestandardregardingrep-resentationsof genitalcutting,dependingupon whois cutting and whereinthe world the cuttingis done.,"NewLawBansGenitalCuttinginUnitedStates"readthe headline on thefrontpageof theNew YorkTimes.tThe lawseemsclearenough:"Whoeverknowingly circumcises,excises,or infibulatesthe whole or anypartof thelabiamajoraor labiaminora orclitorisof anotherpersonwho hasnot at-tainedthe ageof eighteenyearsshallbe finedunderthis title or imprisonednot morethan five years,orboth."'?Yetthis lawwasnotintendedand hasnotbeeninterpretedto protectthe approximatelyfivechildrenperdayin theUnitedStateswho aresubjectedto excisionofpartor all oftheir clitorisandinner labiasimplybecausedoctorsbelievetheir clitorisis toobig.lSexualanatomies,genitalsin particular,conrein manysizesandshapes.TheIntersexMoyementand MedimlDoubleStandards
t27
U.S.doctorsIabelchildrenwhosesexualanatomiesdiffer significantlyliorrr the cultural ideal"intersexuals"or"hermaphrodites"(amisleadingtclrrrbecausethesechildren areborn with intermediategenitals,not two scls). Medicalpracticetoday holdsthatpossessionofalargeclitoris, or a snrirllpenis,or a penisthat hasthe urethraplacedother than at its tip is a "psy. chosocialemergency."aThechildwouldnotbeacceptedbythemother,wortltlbe teasedbypeers,and would not be ableto developinto an ernotionallyhealthyadult.Themedicalsolutionto this psychosocialproblemissLrrllcly-'beforethe child reachesthreemonths of ageor evenbeforethe newburn isdischargedfrom hospital.Althoughparentalemotionaldistress nd rcjce.tion of the child and peerharassmentarecitedasthe primaryjustificllionsfor cosmeticgenitalsurgerytherehasneverbeenan investigationof non-surgicalmeans-suchasprofessionalcounselingorpeersupport-kr ttdrlt'ttsstheseissues.The federalLawto BanFemale GenitalMutilation notwithstandinll,girlsbornwithlargeclitorisesaretodayroutinely"normalized" by excisingpnrtsofthe clitorisandburyingtheremainderdeepwithin the genitalrcgion.IArttlboyswithsmallpenises?Current medicalpracticeholds that intclscxchil-dren"canbe raisedsuccessfullyasmembersof eithersexif tlre proccssbc-ginsbeforezY.years."5Becausesurgeonscannot createa largc pcnisfrrrra smallone,thepolicyis to removetestesandraisethesechildrcnrs girls,This is accomplishedby"carvIing]alargephallusdown into rrclilori$,creatIing]a vaginausinga piece ofIthechild's]colon,"nrarvclcdu seicrtccwriter who spokeonly tophysiciansandparents,not to anyol'thc inlusexpeoplesubjectedto this miracletechnology.TEffortsto creatcor cxlurtl apenileurethrain boyswhoseurethraexitsother thanat thc lip ol lhc penis-aconditioncalledhypospadias-frequentlyleadto rrrulliplcsrrr' geries,eachcompoundingtheharm.3Heart-rendingstoricsol physicalrrndemotionalcarnagearerelatedbyvictimsofthesesurgericsin "(irowirtg Lrpin theSurgicalMaelstrom"and,withblackhumor,in "'l'akcOhulgcrA Guide to Home Catheterization."n"Reconstructive"surgeriesfor intersexinfantgenitals6rstclnrc into wirlc.spreadpracticein the195os.Becauseintersexuality wastreatedasshunrclirlirrrrl physiciansactivelydiscouragedopen discussionby their paticnts-irrdcctl,recommendedlying to parentsandto adult intersexpatients-urltil rccrnlly mostvictimsoftheseinterventionssufferedaloneiu shantcanclsilcncc.r" By1993theaccomplishmentsofa progressionofsocialjusticcrnovcnlcnls civil rights,feminism,gayandlesbian,bisexualancltransgcncicr-hclpcdrrrukc it possiblefor interscxpeopletospeakout.Initially,physiciansscollirluI llrcir'assertior'rsthatintcrscxualitywasnol shrnrclirlrntlthatnrcdicirllyrrrrrrcces

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