Reader: They didn't get us all 


Re: "More than meets the 'I'" (Queer & There, Oct. 17).

Well done! I'm an intersex, gay man who wasn't surgically mutilated or forced into a gender picked out at random. We weren't always erased from society and we are very common as you discovered.

Shame, secrecy, lies and terror have been the usual hallmarks of an intersex childhood. We were told to never let anyone know unless we were about to have sex with them. But with the advent of anesthesia that could let surgeons operate on very young children starting in the mid-'60s the erasure took off with knives.

The idea was that if they could make our genitals look more regular people wouldn't know any different. There was no concern for our fertility, ability to orgasm or get erections, and often no consideration for our continence either. Some of us went through as many as 30 surgeries just trying to repair damage done by the first one that we never needed at all. Very few intersex people have trouble urinating. The surgeries addressed no medical need at all. Indeed, surgeons referred to a baby born with an intersex body as a "social emergency."

Sometimes surgery was done to rebuild genitals while telling parents that it was hernia repair or even cancerous ovaries or testicles! However, they didn't get us all and not every pediatric urology department was so bereft of ethics and morality. A whole lot of us are living in the bodies we were born with and have had happy sex lives and love lives as well. Some of us have man gender, or woman gender and some feel like we're intergender as well as intersex. Thanks for writing with accuracy, with sympathy, and compassion! There are a lot of us in the LGBT+ community.

— Jim Costich

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