“It seems that your parents weren’t sure for a time whether you were a girl or a boy” (Chase, 2002, p. 204). Could you imagine hearing this? Everything that you had thought to be true and constant just got turned upside-down and thrown out. This was the case for Cheryl Chase. She was informed that when she was a baby her genitals were ambiguous and doctors diagnosed her as a “true hermaphrodite”. This situation would be hard for anyone to accept and take in but contrary to popular belief, infants born with ambiguous genitals aren’t all that rare. Actually, about one in every 2,000 babies is born with a genital anatomy that does not conform to our preconceptions of male and female (Chase, 2002).
After looking at the statistics the obvious question one would ask is, “Why don’t we ever hear about intersexed infants since its occurrence is somewhat regular?” The answer lies in the fact that most parents and surgeons alike try to hide and “get rid of” the evidence as soon as possible. Having an intersexed baby is considered by some to be a terrible birth defect or, in some cultures, even a kind of monstrosity. The public as a whole is unaware of these issues. We do not see any well known support groups, outreach program, and psychological help for parents and intersexed children that are publicly known and accepted. This tells us that the “hiding” and “fixing” of intersexed babies is not a new phenomenon. In our society, it is thought to be crucial to assign the child to a male or female identity as quickly as possible. Often the rush of trying to “hide” and “fix” intersexed children leads to fairly arbitrary choosing of their gender assignments (Lips, 2007).
To help make the gender assignment believable and definite, doctors often tell parents that their infant, who appears to have ambiguous genitals, is “really” male or female and simply needs treatment to bring all bodily features in line with the “correct” sex (Lips, 2007,...