Undesired Girls: Infant Sex Reassignment Surgeries in the Heart of India

by Ariana Anderson

Gender identity can be confusing for anyone to navigate without adding unnecessary childhood genital surgeries to complicate things even further.

Several recent studies have shown that in the United States, India, and China, boys are the preferred offspring. As we’ve discussed, in India this is resulting in sex-selective abortions and seven million fewer girls than boys under the age of six. Now there are also claims that up to 300 female children have undergone sex reassignment surgery and male hormonal injections in Madhya Pradesh, the center and so-called ‘heart’ of India.

Masculinizing genitoplasty is an expensive surgery that transforms female organs into a penis. This often results in complications later in life as the organs don’t “grow with the hormonal influence [which] will lead to [the individual’s] infertility as well as their impotency,” according to Dr. V P Gosawmi, president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

According to The Telegraph, doctors in the region have claimed to only perform surgical “corrections” on “genital abnormalities” on children born with both male and female sexual characteristics, but their claims have been contested; they are suspected of performing unnecessary masculinizing genitoplasty at the request of parents desiring male children.

Not only would this be indicative of larger cultural values regarding gender, but it is also an issue of multi-levels of privilege. Ranjana Kumari, a leading campaigner against female feticide with the Centre for Social Research, says “The more educated and rich you are, the more there is killing of girls. People don’t want to share their property or invest in girls’ education or pay dowries. It’s the greedy middle classes running after money. It is just so shocking and an outright violation of children’s rights.”

The Madhya Pradesh government is expected to produce its findings by next Tuesday, after being ordered to investigate the claims by India’s National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. 

[Image and Source via The Telegraph]

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