Surgical intervention on infants with intersex variations is done largely for social reasons to create a ‘typical’ boy or girl at an age where the individual cannot express their consent. The literature review identified that individuals who had non-consensual surgical intervention as infants were more likely to experience mental distress, trauma, and poor sexual satisfaction and experiences in adulthood. Sex assignments may create social issues subjecting them to potential discrimination; creating difficulties accessing some health services, discrimination at school, from peers, or within their families. This thesis reports on a study via a critical lens used to challenge the essentialist paradigm used by health professionals and institutions that operate under the two-sex binary.
The aim of this study was to explore the long-term psychosocial repercussions of interventions on intersex infants and other lived experiences from adult, retrospective voices; reflecting on experiences in healthcare, in school, on forming friendships, family relationships, reflecting on their reared gender experience, navigating dating and intimacy, and sexual satisfaction, experiences, and desires.
This study obtained data via an online survey (n=86) and included those who did and did not experience interventions on an international scale. The dataset was investigated via a qualitative process using a modified ground theory approach, in addition to a quantitative approach via SPSS.
Almost all participants found surgical intervention to be inappropriate. The appropriateness of their reared gender was another strong predictor of negative life experiences. Participants reported a greater need for education for healthcare providers, including better transitions from adolescent to adult care. Some participants often preferred to be alone or have few close friends at school, and some harboured negative feelings towards their parents regarding their interventions or imposed genders in childhood.
Results showed that the imposition of sex and gender, and unwanted interventions had negative impacts on intersex people. By gaining a greater understanding of these impacts, health professionals, schools and families may be able to improve their practices, policies and attitudes to become more supportive of bodily diversity.