Intersex? Wha....?

I just added intersex to my list of "new stuff I found out about on the Internet." I clicked on a Facebook link to this article because I was intrigued and because increasingly have patients who cough up labels for themselves that I have to ask for clarification about and I feel like an idiot.

This post is awesome because it relatively briefly sums up what the term means and includes a biological and sociological summary. I think I read about this somewhere in a footnote in a biology textbook, but it just involved a bunch of disease names for various combinations of chromosomes.

People get all ticked off about clitoral mutilation in Africa, but evidently here we are just fine with it when doctors say it's to make a kid "normal." My mind is a little blown by this.

Lately I keep hearing about more "gender-bender" types of issues. I couldn't say whether it's because people are more vocal about it or whether I pay more attention since it's on my radar. I do, however, pay attention, because I have had a couple of serious foot-in-mouth episodes with patients who assumed I was being a judgmental bitch rather than an idiot, and I have seen some middle ages psychiatry practiced on kids with gender "issues," meaning they were mature enough to tell people they didn't feel right in their bodies.

My only "win" in this area was when I triaged a male-to-female transexual and asked when her last period was. She was super excited.

Seriously though, we need sensitivity training or at least awareness training, and we need more boxes to check except just "male" and "female" on all our forms. It's getting to be a known gray area. I'd suggest an "other" option so the patient can write in the gender description of choice, because there are a LOT to choose from.

Go read Claudia's post. It's a good one.