“Bodies in Doubt”

“Bodies in Doubt” by Elizabeth Reis gives a brief history on intersex people and the medical procedures they endured through the decades. The text follows this medical anomaly from the 1920’s to the 1950’s and even touches on more modern approaches. I noticed in the first few chapters people were coming to doctors for other medical procedures and with examinations the doctors discovered that the person was intersex which is defined has having both male and female reproductive organs, hormones, or chromosomes. The medical practices of determining the person’s “true sex” used over time consisted of examining genitalia, examining the gonads of the person, evaluation the patients psychology, and gender reassignment surgery. As the text switches to more modern practices Reis uses more modern langue when referring to intersex people instead of referring to them as hermaphrodites. One thing that I noticed to be a little troubling with the surgeries and overall treatment of intersex people was how it started with adults making decision about their own bodies to make the transition to later parents making decisions for their child. Infant gender reassignment surgery just does not sit right with me especially when some children did not even know they were intersex till much later in life. I found this to be very trouble some with parents making that choice to raise a child a certain gender and make medical changes that could not be reversed because the child had no choice. I am glad to know that with the story of the parents on page 41 that the doctors advised them to not take any drastic measures to assign their baby’s sex and to not do something that was not reversible. I wish Reis had followed this couple and their child to see how they went about raising their child and if the child ever decided to have gender reassignment surgery or if they decided to live their life as being intersex.