Cosmetic Genital Surgery, Cultural Dysphoria, Human Rights, Intersex Cosmetic Surgery

Dear Medical Complex, Please stop saying Disorder of Sex Development.


If we are to change our culture’s view of intersex people, there is something very powerful we all can do.  It is as simple as changing the language used to describe intersex children and adults. The United Nations’ states: “Because our bodies are seen as different, intersex infants, children and adults are often stigmatized and subjected to multiple human rights violations.”  You can learn the right language by simply reading the United Nations Intersex Fact Sheet and taking the simple suggestions below.

As many know, there are no laws in the United States to protect innocent intersex children from medically unnecessary cosmetic genital corrective surgeries.  One of the biggest reasons parents are talked into surgery is due to their child being diagnosed with one of the many diagnoses of intersex and persuaded to do surgery to “fix” their child.

By medical experts, parents are led to believe that their precious newborn was born a psychosocial emergency, and that surgery is for the emotional well-being of the child.  However, thousands of unhappy adults who were forced into surgery as children prove their theories are absolutely wrong.  It is clear to me that the problem is not with our bodies, it is with society accepting our bodies as not shameful, and celebrating intersex bodily variations again.  In other words, it is what I like to call cultural dysphoria.

Most of these surgeries are not medically necessary and are only cosmetic in nature.   

Here is an alphabetical list of some of the diagnoses of intersex bodily, chromosomal, and hormonal variations:

  • 17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency
  • 5-alpha reductase deficiency
  • 46 XX testicular disorder
  • 46 XX intersex
  • Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome – AIS
  • Ambiguous genitalia
  • Aphallia
  • Chimera
  • Clitoromegaly or macroclitoris
  • Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia – CAH
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals
  • Gonadal dysgenesis, partial or complete
  • Hermaphroditism not elsewhere classified
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Hypospadias and Epispadias
  • Iatrogenic
  • Idiopathic
  • Intersexuality with hormonal variations
  • Kallmann syndrome
  • Klinefelter Syndrome
  • Late-Onset Adrenal Hyperplasia – LOAH
  • Micropenis or Microphalus
  • Mild Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome – MAIS
  • Mosaicism involving sex chromosomes
  • MRKH – Müllerian agenesis; vaginal agenesis; congenital absence of a vagina
  • Not XX and not XY
  • Ovotestis, formerly called “true hermaphroditism”
  • Pseudo Hermaphrodite
  • Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome – PAIS
  • Progestin-induced virilization
  • Swyer syndrome
  • Turner syndrome
  • XXY

Help us end Cultural Dysphoria

Words and phrases to use:

  1. Intersex Person
  2. Intersex Bodily Variations
  3. Intersex Traits
  4. Intersex Hormonal Variations
  5. No Body Is Shameful.

Please STOP saying:

  1. Disorder of Sex Development (DSD)
  2. Don’t consider an intersex bodily variation a congenital birth defect.
  3. Leave off “Syndrome” when referring to those variations that use this word.
  4. Stop assuming all children will want surgery when older, or that they will feel they are in the wrong body.  Some of us want surgery when older, and some of us do not find it necessary.

These Human Rights Organizations and many more say it is time to Stop Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM).

I am Proudly the First in Colorado to get an Intersex Birth Certificate

An anonymous note from a parent of an intersex little girl:

Disorder of Sex Development (DSD) is what most of the medical complex uses. In our home, we don’t use DSD. We prefer the terms ” Intersex or natural bodily variations.” The reason: I had a difficult time associating the word Disorder with my child. It’s much less branding for us to talk with her using our preferred words. In my mind disorder is a stigma driven word that has psychological effects on society. I sat down once and wrote all the words that come to my mind with that one word. I did a social poll asking others what came to mind when they say the word Disorder. The results were preconceived ideas of bad things, things that need to be fixed, broken, weird, and sad. The words that people associate don’t describe my child. I know that she is not a disorder and that her PAIS (Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) is the noun here but the general population will associate her as a disorder. These are my thoughts and when I talk with others I share our preferred terms. I’m working on getting the endocrinologist to at least try and understand the impact of DSD as a blanket descriptor.

World Health Organization

Fix Society I don't have gender dysphoria

I am Proudly the First in Colorado to get an Intersex Birth Certificate

How to Stop “Dis-ing” Intersex! By Jim Costich


2 thoughts on “Dear Medical Complex, Please stop saying Disorder of Sex Development.”

  1. At the top of the page right here – click on “The Man With the Hidden Playground.” That’s where Anunnaki lovingly gave me squatters rights to put some of my essays. You will find one devoted to the English word prefix “Dis” and one on the prefix “Inter”. They are campy and funny but you’ll see they are as serious as a heart attack. Anunnaki and I have spent a few, (cough sputter wheeze, hack!) minutes on the phone discussing the stigmatizing of intersex people and the history of selling genital surgery for fun and profit. Never forget, and if you’re too young to remember the early 00’s then listen to those of us who were middle age in the 90’s, that trying to substitute “Disorders of Sex Development” for our agreed on term for ourselves; Intersex was an effort made by a handful of surgeons and “experts” to escape the possible Malpractice suits they were afraid that there grown-up victims were about to try to bring against them as a class action. They also wanted to go on making money on insurance covered plastic surgery on infants and children’s genitals in an era when no insurance ever covered the same surgeries performed on adults who are trans and also at a time when the whole world was decrying practices of female genital mutilation. When we compare the surgeries and their justifications performed on intersex children it is extremely difficult to see any appreciable difference between the two. It should be noted that female genital mutilation did become illegal in the United States for a time. It is now legal again as per the Trump administration. The United Nations declares intersex genital surgeries as torture and you can find a link to that statement on this blog. It would’ve been nice to have United States federal law reflect that. At least we can make it clear that torture is not necessary to “order” our supposedly “disordered” genitals by refusing to call them disordered in the first place. For partial history of the medical assault on the term “intersex” see Georgeanne Davis book, “Contesting Intersex”. I am looking forward to her writing a 2nd and maybe 3rd edition. It’s a pretty deep swamp to try to drain.


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