Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Male? Female? Not sure?...



I was watching Private Practice online last night, and I randomly clicked "Wait and See" from Season 2. One of the patients was a child who was born with ambiguous genitalia as a result of 11β-Hydroxylase deficient congenital adrenal hyperplasia.


The parents went through a turmoil trying to figure out what was the best for their child (i.e., sex assignment surgery or not, which would indirectly lead to gender assignment), and it was clear that so many things go on in a pregnancy. The parents were lead to believe during baby ultrasounds that their child was a male, and they had even named him Matthew. And that was the identity that they had already created for their child.




The father was having a particular hard time accepting his child, and insisted on the surgery to make him male. This, despite the caution from the doctors that only 30% of children born with this condition orienting towards male. The doctors were sure he would choose female, given the probabilities.


He even said at one point:
"Imagine being a 6-year-old boy with a vagina".


But the doctor had a reply (obviously):
"Imagine being a 20-year-old woman without one".




And the mother who had until now agreed with the husband about choosing 'male' clearly had a moment there where she realised what her decision might do to her child. And she began to identify with the female side of her child, and it hit her as a woman.


It's interesting how we create out entire identities around our sex. We identify with so many things because of our sex, and our gender. And how your entire existence is challenged because of this.




There was a case in Toronto just recently where the parents of a child has refused to let the world know the sex of their child so that he/she could develop his/her own identity. The child has been named Storm.


What do you think? Would the parents be doing harm or good? In this case, the child has genitalia. But what about children who are born with ambiguous genitalia?




I know my parents gave me freedom to wear what I want. There was a period of time when I abhorred skirts and/or dresses (I think Malaysian school uniforms was one reason, lol). Having to attend functions where it was more the norm for a lady to wear a dress was a particular chore, because I didn't have any! I even remember one where I did manage to find a skirt that I actually liked and wore it and everyone was so shocked I wore one!


Things have changed, for sure. I love dresses now, although I still love my jeans and slacks. But I definitely am very comfortable in skirts and dresses now, and would definitely balk if anyone made me change the way I dress.




When did that change happen? Was it because of society? Or was it because I had to learn to grow into my own body as a woman, and love it?



3 comments:

WP said...

Hmm...I think refusing to let people know the gender of their child would be more appropriate when it is ambiguous...that would allow the child to develop in whichever way is more natural to him/herself.

But if there is no ambiguity, I think it would be better to let the child live as a defined boy/girl. It's better to get used to society's biases ;)

whre4arthou said...

no.. it was because we met that woman in KL who introduced us to that very nice skirt..

Pak Zawi said...

Daph,
Rather unfortunate to be born as such. The doctor's expert opinion should be sought and subscribed to. It should be the best for the child.