Human Rights 4 Hermaphrodites 2!

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Wednesday 31 August 2011

The Extermination of Hermaphrodites in the "Developed World"

>>> Open Letter of Concern to Europ. Society of Paediatric Endocrinology 'ESPE 2012'
>>> 'Live Genital Mutilations': Hermaphrodites Target Pedo Docs

"Human Rights for Hermaphrodites too!" - July 6, 2008   (Photo: Dominik Huber)

Zwischengeschlecht.org is a Human Rights Advocacy Group of survivors and allies fighting against genital mutilation in children's clinics and for the right to physical integrity and self determination for all children born with 'atypical' genitals!

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.  Hermaphrodites in the "Developed World":
     Extermination by Surgery vs. Struggle for Human Rights
2.  Victims of Modernity
3.  1950: From Experimentation to Extermination
4.  A Human Rights Issue!   
 

1. Hermaphrodites in the "Developed World": Extermination by Surgery vs. Struggle for Human Rights

11th EMBL/EMBO Conference, November 6, 2010    --> Open Letter
  

Human Rights for Hermaphrodites too!In the first seven weeks in the womb, all of us were hermaphrodites, equipped with rudimentary ovaries and testicles, and 100% "ambiguous" genitals. Only thereafter "sexual development" kicks in an we begin to divide physically, usually (but not always) the XXs into girls and XYs into boys—and about 0.2% of us physically deloping into something of both or inbetween.

The term "Hermaphrodite" stems from Greek mythology, the tale of Hermaphroditos, reluctant son of Hermes and Aphrodite, and enamoured nymph Salmacis, two originally distinct persons forcibly rolled into one body because of unrequited love, a tragic male-female hybrid cursing the world to bear more of its kind.

Commonly used as a derogatory and offensive term, "Hermaphrodite" is recently being reclaimed with pride by individuals and advocacy groups alike. However, many prefer the terms "intersex" or "intersexed" (to avoid conflation with "heterosexual", "homosexual", "transsexual" etc.).

In medicine, "Hermaphroditism" was official nomenclature until after World War II, followed by "Intersex". The current medical term "Disorders of Sex Development DSD" is opposed by the vast majority of "patients"—they refuse to be considered and treated as "disordered". Proposals to exchange "Disorders" for "Differences" or "Variations" were ignored by the medical establishment.

Since the late 1950s, medical guidelines around the globe recommend "Hermaphrodites/Intersexed/DSD patients" to be surgically "corrected" preferably within the first 18 months of their lives. According to the classic surgeons' motto "It's easier to dig a hole than to build a pole", most of them are "made to girls", although in the meantime urologists increasingly indulge in the "challenge" of "masculinization".

Today, according to studies by the mutilators themselves, at least 90% of the population born with "indeterminate" or otherwise "unusual" physical "sex markers" were (and still are!) submitted to on average multiple medically unnecessary genital surgeries starting in early childhood, resulting in appallingly high risk of lifelong loss of genital sensation, physical pain and massive psychological traumata.

For two decades now, hermaphrodites are fighting against forced "corrective" genital surgery without informed consent, denouncing them as "Western Form of Genital Mutilation", and are demanding "Human Rights for Hermaphrodites, too!"

2. Hermaphrodites: Victims of Modernity

"STOP Genital Mutilation in Children's Clinics!", February 6, 2011
 

While for most western minorities, enlightenment and modern times brought more rights and less abuse, for people born with "ambiguous genitals" the contrary applies.

Hermaphrodites were and are at high risk of being killed just after birth (or to be aborted if discovered by pre-natal examination) in most known societies. However, in middle age Europe and until modernity, surviving hermaphrodites at least enjoyed

a) growing up with their physical integrity respected, and

b) being legaly recognised and even

c) granted the privilege to choose whether they wanted to live as male or female as soon as they reached adulthood.

However, with the advent of modern science and medicine, this changed dramatically:

The hermaphrodites' traditional rights to decide for themselves as well as their right to physical integrity became increasingly challenged by scientists and doctors, striving for "assigning" the hermaphroditis by force, scalpel and administration of hormones, in accordance to their varying latest "state of the art" scientific theories.

In the late 1800s, under the label of "erreur de sexe", hermaphrodites found themselves suddenly accused by scientists and doctors of being impostors, frauds and deceivers. For the fathers of modern medicine, in case of doubt, sex was to be determined by vivisection surgical examination of the gonads, i.e. the testicles (often undescended and therefore still locateted in the belly or goins) and/or ovaries.

This method remained "state of the art" from the 1800s until the dawn of ultrasound and genetics. Only if a "patient" was able to prove he had both ovaries and testes, or mixed tissue gonads, he was deemed a "true" hermaphrodite, while the vast majority of the species were exposed as mere "pseudo" hermaphrodites, i.e. actually women or men in disguise.

(Ironically, in the 21st century, the likes of Caster Semenya, Santhi Soundarajan, Maria Patino and hundreds more nameless "gender test failures" are again accused of being impostors—this time of disguising as women while not really being one.)

3. 1950: From Experimentation to Extermination

«A Gonad For A Gonad, A Lust Organ For A Lust Organ» - Garry L. Warne (left) at the main entrance of '3rd EuroDSD Symposium', Lübeck 20.5.11"3rd EuroDSD Symposium", May 21, 2011    --> Open Letter
 

With a prevalence of about 1:2000, "classic" Hermaphrodites – in the current language of the doctors, "severe cases of Intersex or Disorders of Sex Development (DSD)" – are more frequent than people with cystic fibrosis or autism. Adding those who the doctors "only" diagnose with "genital malformations" (e.g. "Hypospadias"), the rate of children mutilated in western hospitals according to the surgeons themselves amounts to 1-2:1000.

None the less, by the end of the 20th century, after 50 years of systematic surgical and hormonal "corrections" and "repairs", as a species hermaphrodites are virtually extinct, both in real life and in public perception.

Starting the 1910s a.o. Eugen Steinach in Austria, prison surgeon Leo Stanley (San Quentin, USA), and in the 1930s Adolf Butenandt in Nazi-Germany conducted the basic research necessary for inducing "artificial puberty" and "controlled sex development" in humans by administering synthetic hormones, often in combination with castration (soon to become standard treatment for hermaphrodites).

During the same time, at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore (USA), Hugh Hampton Young brought to perfection the experimental surgical techniques of making "ambiguous" genitals at least look more like "regular" ones. What these surgically and endocrinologically constructed, seemingly "unambiguous" genitals would FEEL like was no part in the equation. No wonder, the doctors and scientists regularly complained about reluctant "patients", who not often simply never retuned after their first visit.

In 1950, again at Johns Hopkins, the endocrinologist Lawson Wilkins eventually found a solution to overcome this reluctance: "Curing" the "patients" in their early infancy, since Wilkins had found the parents to be by far more easily persuaded. 

1951, enter John Money from New Zealand at Johns Hopkins. During his influential tenure that lasted until his demise in 2006, Money not only coined the term "gender" in its meanwhile predominant use. Following up on Wilkins' notion, 1955 Money et. al. proposed new guidelines called "Optimal Gender Policy"—the blueprint for the medical extermination of the "intersex patients" (as they were now called) by means of forced genital surgery and/or castration in early childhood, followed by lifelong forced hormone treatments, which  during the next decade was implemented allover the "civilised world".

Money's core "scientific proof" for his theories, published first in 1972, was derived from a degrading human "twin experiment" under his direct supervision. Contrary to Money's claims in publications, the experiment went awfully wrong with tragic consequences for both "subjects" and their relatives. Despite the truth emerging in 1997, Money was never held accountable, nor were his countless followers.

Since the late 1950s, medical guidelines around the globe have been recommending children born with "atypical genitals" a.k.a. "Hermaphrodites/Intersexed/DSD patients" to be surgically "corrected" preferably within the first 18 months of their lives. According to the classic surgeons' motto "It's easier to dig a hole than to build a pole", most of them are "made to girls", although in the meantime urologists increasingly indulge in the "challenge of masculinization".

What these systematic non-consented surgeries actually do FEEL like for the "patients", was never part of the equation, let alone their alleged "benefits" clinically tested. Adult "patients" were simply left behind by the hundreds of thousands.

Today, according to studies by the mutilators themselves, at least 90% of the population born with "indeterminate" or otherwise "unusual" sex anatomies were (and still are!) submitted to on average multiple medically unnecessary genital surgeries starting in early childhood, resulting in appallingly high risk of lifelong loss of genital sensation, physical pain and massive psychological traumata.

Arguably, the continuing forced "medical treatments" of children with "atypical" genitals are one of the worst human rights violation perpetrated in the "developed countries" since the end of World War II.

The cosmetic "treatments" include:

  • "corrective surgery", e.g. amputation of the penis/clitoris a.k.a. "clitoral reduction"; "penile recostruction"; "hypospadias repair"; etc.
  • carving an artificial "neo-vagina" which has to be dilated permanently
  • castration, followed by lifelong hormone "therapy"
  • pre-natal hormone "therapy" (introduced in the late 1970s)
  • concealing the truth from the "patients"

As the last requirement shows, all-encompassing deception is deemed an essential part of the "cure". In order to become  "ordinary" boys and girls, the "patients" must never know they were born different. To achive this, newborns have to be submitted to surgery in the first 18 months and never being told afterwards. The parents are lied to as well and critical information is often withheld from them.

If the gonads (testicles, ovaries, ovotestes) don't fit the assigned gender, doctors insist on castrations to be performed indiscriminately and quickly, threatening parents and "patients" alike with an alleged general "high cancer risk"—while medical surveys indicate relatively common forms in fact have low cancer risk, like e.g. CAIS at 0.9%–2% (in comparison, breast cancer 20%), and regular control would be far more beneficial than indiscriminate removal. (Loijenga et.al. 2007, 2008)

Money's framework to "dissolve" all hermaphrodites into seemingly "unambiguous" men and women was never clinically tried and tested, but became worldwide factual standard since the late 1950s, and remains so till today. (Don't accept any different claims by doctors without hard proof and independent monitoring.)

Despite a new change in nomenclature in 2005 from "Intersex" to the highly controversial "Disorders of Sex Development DSD", all the medical trade actually does is "advancing" the same old methods while adding some lip service. But contrary to their regular claims of "newly improved" techniques, studies maintain:

"The news is not good. Clitoral surgery, even when involving techniques less drastic than clitorectomy, compromises adult sexual functions. [...] vaginoplasty, particularly when performed in early childhood, leads to poor outcomes: it often needs to be repeated later in life, and it is fraught with complications." (Sytsma: Intersex and Ethics, 2006, p. xxiv)

4. A Human Rights Issue!

UNO Geneva, January 25, 2009 (Photo: Ärger)
 

What these non-consented surgeries actually do FEEL like for the "DSD patients", was never clinically tested. No regular follow-ups were done. Adult "patients" were simply left behind—traumatised by unwritten rules of silence and forced surgeries, deprived of sexual sensation and riddled with painful scars.

From the very beginning of their resistance to non-consented treatments, hermaphrodites described themselves as survivors and their plight as torture, rape and inhuman medical experiments. A recent German Study proved suicide rates of surviving hermaphrodites to be comparable to victims of torture or raped children.

Arguably, the continuing forced medical treatments of hermaphrodite children are one of the worst human rights violation perpetrated in the "developed countries" since the end of World War II.

Despite the often "ambiguous" looks of their private parts, hermaphrodites are usually perfectly healthy. From a strictly medical standpoint, no genital surgery is needed at all. There are some forms that do require medical treatment for health issues, like e.g. the salt-wasting forms of CAH, but these issues again do not concern their private parts.

Since the 1800s, a few doctors blessed with a working conscience have continuously criticized "early damaging surgeries" on hermaphrodites as motivated by "curiosity rather than surgical judgement" (Reis: Bodies in Doubt, p. 113), but remained sidelined by the less scrupulous of their peers.   

Only in 1993 hermaphrodites themselves began to organise. Aided by the advent of the world wide web, self-help and advocacy groups publicly demand the end of "unwanted surgery" on hermaphrodite children and eventually "human rights".

2004/05 San Francisco Human Rights Commission Hearing and Report
http://www.intersexinitiative.org/news/000119.html
http://www.isna.org/pressroom/sfhrc

2008/09 UN-CEDAW Shadow Report and 43rd Session Recommendations
http://intersex.shadowreport.org
"62. The Committee request the State party to enter into dialogue with non-governmental organizations of intersexual [...] people in order to better understand their claims and to take effective action to protect their human rights. [...] Follow-up to concluding observations: 67. The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps undertaken to implement the recommendations contained in paragraph [...] 62."
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/co/CEDAW-C-DEU-CO6.pdf

Thanks to Sally Gross of intersex.org.za, in 2006 South Africa was one of the very first states to write the existence of the intersexed into law.

However, till today Colombia is still the only nation that since 1999 at least to some extent regulates by law cosmetic genital surgery on hermaphrodite children

 
Zwischengeschlecht.org
    Contact: info_at_zwischengeschlecht_dot_org

The human rights advocacy group Zwischengeschlecht.org demands the prohibition of cosmetic genital surgeries on children and "Human Rights for Hermaphrodites too!"

>>> stop.genitalmutilation.org

   IOC Lausanne, 19.11.09  --> Open Letter
(Photo: © FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty)

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