Thursday, October 22, 2009

From Erica: genital restructuring survery for survivors of female genital cutting?

This morning, I woke up to an email from my partner with this link included. The article, published by Newsweek, talks about a doctor- a doctor who happens to have undergone genital restructuring surgery herself as part of a male-to-female transition- who has started working to adapt the procedures used to "create" the labia, clitoris, and vaginal openings for use on women who have (often forcibly) undergone female genital cutting.

Of course, there are some problems with the article- for example, the prevailing assumption (both from the writer and from the article's main interview subjects) that a person needs the full complement of normative female genitalia in order to be a "real" woman- but it also did a wonderful job of highlighting the myriad of roles that genitalia and sexuality play in broader human experiences. Whether it's in attaining a genital look and feel that have been taboo in one's culture, or whether it's changing the body to match one's expectations of gender and sex identity, the possibilities for effective genital restructuring surgery are broadening.

So too, as the article mentions, are the ways in which cultures can respond negatively to those feelings of empowerment that (may) come with newly restructured genitals. The article discusses the possibility of rejection that their interview subject might experience as a result of stepping away from the cultural tradition of female genital cutting; of course, negative judgement isn't limited to "Other" cultures, and while people in the United States are likely to respond positively to this particular person's surgery, trans folks in America get the short end of the stick when they pursue similar procedures.

As always, it's an interesting world out there.

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