Is there such a thing as free choice?

In an excerpt of Fausto-Sterling’s Sexing the Body, the question of free choice for a patient who has undergone gentile infant surgery arises. How does another human being—professional or not—have a right to choose the genitalia of another individual? Furthermore, most of these infantile surgeries are by no means necessary in terms of the physical wellbeing of the newborns, but rather are done for cosmetic purposes that can eventually lead to life-altering consequences (inability to achieve organisms, severe genital scarring etc). Fausto-Sterling urges parents and specialists alike to not let their personal discomforts with intersexual births to impede their child’s personal rights: “…infant genital surgery is cosmetic surgery performed to achieve a social result—reshaping a sexually ambiguous body so that it confirms to our two-sex system” (Fausto-Sterling, 80). In Suzanne J. Kessler’s The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants, Kessler continues to underline how the parents’ uneasiness often overshadows the child’s entitlement to free-choice: “The physicians talk as though they have no choice but to respond to the parents’ pressure for a resolution of psychological discomfort, and as though they have no choice but to use medical technology in the service of a two-gender culture” (Kessler, 25). If professionals continue to carry out life-changing surgeries, solely to surpress the anxiety of the parents, then free-choice will be stripped from these patients. In order for justice as well as free-choice to be exercised in the world of intersexual births, people must abandon their desires to live within the “norm,” and instead consider the best choices that will allow other individuals to pursue  happy and healthy lifestyles.

Fausto-Sterling, Ann (2000) . Sexing the Body. New York: Basic Books.

Kessler, Suzanne J (2008). The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

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