Urgent issues in treatment of genital anomalies

Fetal Cosmetology

HUMAN BODIESHilde Lindemann, Ellen K. Feder, and Alice Dreger

, 02/08/2010
There’s a common misperception that, now that the Johns Hopkins psychologist John Money is gone, so are all the ethical problems with the way people with genital anomalies are treated. Not so.

You may recall that Money lied about the life of his patient David Reimer (known as “John/Joan”), who as a baby had been sex-changed on Money’s recommendation following a circumcision accident in which a physician burned off most of Reimer’s penis. Despite David’s actual later reversion to a male gender identity, Money used a false version of Reimer’s story to convince clinicians that children with atypical sex could be made into “acceptable” versions of girls or boys if you just did surgery early, did hormone treatments as necessary, and avoided having the patients understand much beyond the party line about their genders.

These days, we’ve got a lot of questions about what’s been going on with the use of prenatal dexamethasone to try to prevent children from being born with atypical genitalia. More at the link:

http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Bioethicsforum/Post.aspx?id=4470&blogid=140

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