Gender and IntersexualsBy: Mormon Heretic
Mormonism is a unique religion in it’s belief about gender. The Proclamation on the Family states that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” But what happens when gender isn’t so clear cut?
MSNBC has an interesting article about Intersexuals: people in which the “exact gender of the child cannot be determined”. The story says that
“It is estimated that in Germany alone approximately 80,000 people are intersexual, so-called hermaphrodites, who have physical features – such as chromosomes, hormones, gonads and outer sexual organs – which cannot be unambiguously attributed to just one gender.”
Huh? I have a hard time believing that the number is that high. Regardless, the story of one individual is startling. The child was born with ambiguous genitalia. Raised as a boy because the midwife “supposedly mistook her enlarged clitoris for a penis.”
it was later diagnosed that her indeterminate external genitalia were the result of a rare genetic disorder of the adrenal gland, the so-called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH.
“My childhood and teenage development was often agonizing because I did not really know what was wrong with me and where I belonged,” Voelling said in a recent interview with NBC News.
If you thought the story was strange already, it gets worse.
After being admitted to a local hospital for an appendix surgery, doctors diagnosed that their patient had mixed male-female genitals and an atrophied reproductive system.
But, when the young adult landed on the operating table, the surgeon found a full set of female reproductive organs, including an intact womb and ovaries.
Without consent from the patient, the organs were removed.
“I never received a truthful explanation of my condition and after the operation I felt a lot of physical and emotional pain for many years,” Voelling said.
“Some 95 percent of all intersexuals systematically undergo genital surgery and other interventions without medical informed consent and without clear scientific proof,” said Lucie Veith, the head of “Intersexuelle Menschen eV“ in Hamburg, a group that represents hermaphrodites in Germany.
Gratification after legal battle
Only a couple of years later, Voelling also started receiving the regular administration of testosterone, or steroid male hormones.
“For 27 years, I was more or less exposed to severe doping,” Voelling said.
“At age 47, when I felt more like a woman than a man anyway, I said enough is enough,”
In 2008, Voelling decided to take her case to court and sued the doctor that had removed her female reproduction organs over unlawful intervention.
In its verdict, the court ordered the surgeon to pay 100,000 euro, (approximately $133,000) in compensation for performing an operation converting a hermaphrodite into a man without consent.
“I felt very relieved and it was really more of a moral reparation than anything else, but it unfortunately did not have consequences for the legal rights of intersexuals,” said Voelling. She officially changed her gender from male to female, as well as her name from Thomas to Christiane, in a long bureaucratic process that same year.
How does the Proclamation fit in this situation?