I wholeheartedly admit that I'm addicted to those "I'm-a-glutton-for-punishment" TLC shows like "A Boy Whose Skin Fell Off" and "The 700lb Man." I'm not sure what it is about those shows that draw me in, but I watch, cry, and cry some more every single time without fail. The most interesting of the bunch, in my humble opinion, was the show on people born with two sexual organs.
I have a great interest in LBGT culture, specifically has it relates to health care treatment, being that I am a health care professional. Since having children, however, my interest has piqued, mainly because the trauma and life challenges faced by intersexed and transgendered persons has a lot to do with the decisions of their parents.
The firsthand accounts of these folks whose gender was essentially chosen for them by their parents and the attending doctors are heartwrenching. The struggle of feeling like a woman in a man's body or vice versa is difficult to imagine. The daily grief experienced in our either-or world is tragic. And yet, they survived - some alone, some with life partners and families, to tell their story and enlighten those who chose to watch.
We live in a male/female world with no room for in-between. If you have read any literature on gender formation and development, you will find that gender is not necessarily related to sexual organs, but rather a whole myriad of factors that are difficult to quantify. In plain English, just because someone has a penis doesn't mean they are a MAN. This causes most of our society much concern - I'm not exactly sure why - but it does. We seem to like black/white answers - and grey, especially when it comes to sexuality and gender, really freaks people out.
I can't say that I fully understand how it happens - regardless of whether the person has two sexual organs OR if they have one and identify with a different gender. BUT, I do know that I empathize with their pain and their challenge to find a place in this world. And now as a parent, I wonder what would I do if my child were born with two sexual organs?
I mean, my first instinct would be to leave them alone, give them a gender neutral name, dress them in gender neutral clothes, and go on my merry way. Let them decide if they want surgery - and a specific gender identification. BUUUUTTTTT... life is not that easy. Everyone wants to know "what you are having" from the time you are just a little bit pregnant. And EVERYTHING is either for a boy or girl. Gender roles are forced down our throats from early on - from toys to clothes to all else human... And, as a parent, I know my desire for my child is for them to fit in, find themselves, and live happily. But, how can I help them do that when everything is either blue or pink? Where are the success stories?
So, as I ponder this heavy issue with my new and old blog pals, I wonder, what would you do if the dr told you, "It's a BIRL?"