Sun and moon, black and white, love versus hate, what a binary world we live in. Opposite one another there is contrast, opposing forces so in need of the other, yet so far apart. In Stanley Kubrick film “Full Metal Jacket” Joker, after some hesitation, explains to the Colonel that he wears his peace button along with the words “Born to Kill” on his helmet band as a symbol of the duality of man. In Book IV of Metamorphoses, Ovid pens, that Salmacis forces herself on Hermaphroditus and asks the gods to join them into one being. I want to note here that the Greeks used deities to explain the unknown and things they feared. I do believe that our society is not much better, we play God in order to change the mysteries we find unacceptable. Our society demands that we be either or, yet the human condition is twofold. We are so hung up on dichotomy; we must separate and group in society. Along comes something that cannot be categorized and we have to act quickly to put it in an acceptable category. Ambiguity is unacceptable in a society where one must conform to its binary rules. How does this attitude affect those born into western society as intersexuals? Research suggests that intersexual children should undergo surgical transformation procedures in order to prevent both physiological and psychological disturbances during development.
This question has been raised in many forums and debated at international conferences and moratoriums. Puritans, god fearing people are we, in the book “Intersex”, the author Harper (2007) cites professor and social activist Kathy Dreger who wrote “in terms of sex, we have much in common with the Victorians”. Her words resonate throughout the community close to those with disorders of sexual differentiation. Those who are born into this life of ambiguity are not only hampered with its difficulties but also burdened by the mandates of a society which must color in between the lines.
Intersexual disorders though rare have occurred throughout history. The victims of the condition were labeled Hermaphrodites after the Greek son of Hermes and Aphrodite, who was succumbed by the water nymph Salmacis and transformed into an androgynous being. Today, disorders of sexual differentiation (DSDs) occur at a rate of about 1.7% worldwide annually (Larson, 2011). It is defined to include congenital conditions in which development of chromosomal, gonadal, or anatomical sex is atypical. The treatment of individuals born with this anomaly differs in various regions of the world. The responses to the condition vary from being put to death, to being admired and called upon to give advice in the battle of the sexes.
Until the late nineteenth century very little research was done by the medical fraternity. During the late 1800’s advances in gynecological medicine and a multitude of examinations spawned by military preparedness, reports of the condition increased and facilitated an interest in research. Because most in the medical...