I recall when I was very young, back in the 50’s, being in my mother’s office — she was the assistant head of pathology in a very well respected children’s hospital in Philadelphia, PA — overhearing a conversation between her and one of the surgeons. It was about gender.
A child had been born with genitals that had not been able to be identified definitively as male or female; the doctors had re-created the child as a female.
I asked my mother if they had asked the parents which sex the child should be… “No,” she told me. They don’t tell the parents; it would be too traumatic.
I persisted; I wanted to know why the doctors had picked female as the sex. “Because it’s easier,” she said.
“But why don’t they wait… and ask the child?” I wanted to know. She told me that that would be too confusing for everyone as well as more troublesome to perform the surgery later.
I was horrified.
I imagined how I would have felt if I found out later in life that my gender had been decided for me. My mother told me the kids never found out because the parents were never told. Everything was just fine, she assured me. “It happens all the time.”
I remained horrified.