Bodies in Doubt 4.12.21

     Bodies in Doubt was my favorite read that we have done this semester. How I got background into the intersex community and the various impact that it has had on people globally was actually through a second-year psychology course that I was able to take through UMW– PSYCH of Exceptional Children Youth. While intersexuality was not explored in depth in that course, I got into it through my final paper for the course, specifically the “Ashly-X case”. Prior to doing research into this case I had no idea what to expect. The name given to the patient was Ashley-x as her parents did not want personal identifying information about their daughter to be made public. Born with a variety of physical disabilities, Ashley was dependent on her family members to care for her in almost all facets of her life. Because of this, when Ashley began to go through the beginning stages of puberty, her parents and primary doctors made the executive decision that not only would it be in their best interest to stunt her growth overall (so that she did not become too heavy and impossible for her parents to care for in their later age) but also that she undergo a hysterotomy at the mere age of fifteen. Although the “Ashley-X” case is not directly linked to  Elizabeth Reis work, it is similar as both of these works discuss the complexities of body politics on the youth.

Chapter four offered a comprehensive history of the beginnings of ways that the medical community rationalized making the pivotal decisions of what sexual organs would make each a “man” or a “women” based upon sex organs alone,  and then in the late 1970s there was a shift in where doctors would make such distinctions based upon often outdated social constructions of how each gender went on to function and assimilate themselves into the world around them. John Money was not a likeable figurehead for me in this reading as his medical decisions were often rooted in the fact that he saw gender able to bend itself in the early stages. This was particularly troubling for me to get into because it is where I started to make links between Money’s involvement and the unacceptable treatment of Ashley. In both instances, gender as both a construct and a way in which many came to understand their sexual identities, was damaged because neither persons had a fair say on what felt the most “natural” to them. As was touched on in the fifth chapter, intersex individuals often grew up really struggling to navigate and relate to others around them because how they identified often was in contrast with their own bodies. Medical choices have deeply profound psychological, emotional, and physical consequences that doctors like Money harmfully ignored.