Thursday, August 27, 2009

A journalist's perspective

Here's grim.

The splash page of the SMH had a nice picture of Marlene Dietrich with the accompanying uplifting by-line letting us know that intersex patients can now be "fixed" by their doctors, which is nice:

"XX or XY

When the answer to girl or boy is: 'I don't know'

They've been called hermaphrodites and intersex children - but doctors can often fix them. "

Looks like the front page has been changed.

Oh, no: it's back now.

The article itself was unimpressive and looked like an excuse to show glamorous photos with nice titillating hermaphrodite plays on words. Mmm... sexual healing. No sign of the athlete in question, nota bene. Guess she looked a bit, erm, "mannish" for the tone of the article. Nothing as off-putting as an unglamorous intersex person.

Thing is, there's no mention of "fixing" intersex children in the article. Nor should there be, given that many of the generation of intersex children who were surgically "fixed" are a bit (a lot) upset about not being given much choice in the matter what with them being infants at the time. The Intersex Society of North America may not speak for all those born somewhere along the sex continuum, but they represent a large body and have very definite and reasonable opinions on this matter which you would have thought would be taken into account before putting a nice big picture with link on your front page.

Particularly given that the article originated in the right on, intellectual as Guardian newspaper in the UK. Despite being the paper of the discerning, earnest under- and post-grad, it still took their Health Editor, who seems to have been in the job for long enough to pick up a bit of science by osmosis at the least, several goes to get the number of human chromosomes right.

But at least they didn't go for the glam angle, unlike the high brow SMH.

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