Gender Boxes and Genital surgery: Are they Really So Different?
By Abbey Corcoran
Background: In a fit of inspiration fueled by the madness of our upcoming finals, my friends and I went to a trampoline park in Charlotte a couple weeks ago to let off some steam. While we were signing the waivers, I was appalled when I was unexpectedly confronted with having to check one of two boxes: male or female. When I tried to bypass the question, I was told I had to fill it out or forsake trampoline-ing. After I begrudgingly finished the waiver I watched parents as they filled out waivers for their children. I was amazed by how many were willing to select one of the two boxes for their children (with no qualms), which had given me such pause. Having just finished my book review on Contesting Intersex, I was feeling particularly skeptical of parents making decisions for their children and, I began to wonder what the difference is—if there is one—between parents marking something on a waiver and consenting to some sort of action based, loosely, on the subject matter they seem to have little reservations about addressing on waivers.
Research Question: I would like to look at the correlation and causation between parents’ willingness to sign waivers and forms delineating the gender/sex of their child and parents’ willingness to consent to gender reassignment surgeries on behalf of their children.
Method: Such a research question would require parents to fill out an anonymous survey, which would be designed to deduce what difference, if any, they found between checking a gender box for their child and consenting to surgery for their child. The potential demographic for the survey would most likely need to be limited by both geography (limit it to one county etc.) and age (only parents of children ages 0-4, for example). Incentive to participate would be ideal, if the budget allowed and the survey would be promoted and distributed vis-à-vis social media.
Altruistic Component: Separate from the survey, I would also be interested in creating a virtual presentation (ideally a video) educating parents on the socially constructed origins of gender and the dangers of the gender binary to accompany with the survey. Although a participant would not have access to the video until after they had completed the survey (as to not sway their answers), ideally the video would be shared in conjunction with the survey on social media platforms.
Budget: This grant would be utilized to cover compensation for the participants and for the production of the educational video.
This study would hopefully help us to understand the positionalities of parents, both when checking waivers and consenting to surgery, provide the intersex movement for bodily autonomy more material, and help us to understand something there is little scholarship on –the thought processes of parents when dealing with sexual nonconformities.