- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2000

The drastic sex-change surgery performed on David Reimer as an infant was "medically unnecessary," say advocates for those born with genital abnormalities.
"Sex assignment doesn't depend on surgery," says Cheryl Chase, executive director of the Intersex Society of North America. Her organization seeks protection for those children "intersex" is preferred to "hermaphrodite" whose genitals show both male and female characteristics.
Mr. Reimer's parents opted for sex-change surgery following a botched circumcision, but such treatment is often performed on intersex infants.
"Although traumatic loss of penis is relatively rare, intersexuality is actually quite common," Miss Chase says, "and the sort of medically sanctioned child abuse that David Reimer experienced is visited upon 2,000 intersex children every year in the U.S."
Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii agrees.
"Keep the scalpel away," says Mr. Diamond, a psychologist and sex researcher who helped expose the failure of Johns Hopkins University psychologist John Money's treatment in the Reimer case.
In the event of infants born with ambiguous genitalia, doctors should "assign a gender best as you can predict, on the basis of the diagnosis, but do no surgery," Mr. Diamond says. "And the individual can make up his or her own mind as they grow up" whether they are male or female and seek further treatment if they desire.


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