What Is Freedom? – Gentile Infant Surgery

What is Freedom?- Gentile Infant Surgery

The issue of individual freedom is brought forth by Anne Fausto-Sterling’s article, “Should There Only Be Two Sexes?” in which she goes into depth about the  problems involving gentile infant surgery: stripping of patients’ freedom and the “use of medical technology in the service of a two-gendered culture” (Kessler, 25.)

 In her article, Fausto-Sterling challenges the authority that physicians have been given in assigning a provisional sex to infants with conditions such as penile loss, enlarged/severed genitals, ambiguous genitals, etc. Fausto-Sterling calls for an end to unnecessary infant surgery and the right for biologically sex ambiguous infants to continue living as sexually ambiguous until they themselves have selected a way to happily live their lives. Till then, the role of medical teams should be to counsel parents and support the child with any challenges. According to Fausto-Sterling, this freedom and nurturing is a better alterative to the “scarring and psychological effects [associated with gentile infant surgery]” (Fausto-Sterling, 79.)

 In addition, Fausto-Sterling states that society’s views must change too in order for freedom to occur. In the case of sexuality, society needs to adapt a more flexible gender system that is open to multiplicity and ambiguity.


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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