Reader Advisory: This report contains graphic descriptions of traumatic experiences, often affecting children. Intersex people in the United States are subjected to medical practices that can inflict irreversible physical and psychological harm on them starting in infancy, harms that can last throughout their lives. The results are often catastrophic, the supposed benefits are largely unproven, and there are generally no urgent health considerations at stake. Procedures that could be delayed until intersex children are old enough to decide whether they want them are instead performed on infants who then have to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Intersex people are not rare, but they are widely misunderstood.
First-time sex is still a big taboo topic among Muslims, even in the West. We cannot talk, or raise questions, or — God forbid — even think of it because sex is considered something filthy and evil. Obviously, we all know that Islam prohibits having sex outside of marriage — but why does this have to prevent us from educating ourselves when the first generations of Muslims never shied away from seeking the answer for intimate questions? Why do we feel embarrassed when sexual desires are completely normal and natural feelings of a human being, and there is nothing wrong with fulfilling them in the halal way?!
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, medicine became the primary means for dealing with intersex. Before then, the vast majority of people with intersex conditions went unnoticed by legal, religious, or medical establishments and only a few cases per year came to the attention of authorities. When a newborn had a high degree of genital ambiguity, midwives, grandmothers, and other local elders appear to have assigned the sex. Medical doctors created an arbitrary standard based on gonadal tissue , which persists in most medical texts today.
Also known as sex change or gender reassignment surgery, sex reassignment surgery is a procedure that changes genital organs from one gender to another. In both cases, technical considerations favor successful conversion to a female rather than a male. Newborns with ambiguous organs will almost always be assigned to the female gender unless the penis is at least an inch long. Whatever their chromosomes, they are much more likely to be socially well adjusted as females, even if they cannot have children. Reliable statistics are extremely difficult to obtain.