There’s an interesting convergence going on right now– we’ve got people in the Ashley treatment thread talking about the ethics of preventing puberty forever and of other invasive “treatments” and procedures performed on infants and children, and we’ve got people on the”I Am a Monster” thread talking about the ethics of “delaying” puberty, or beginning the processes of sexual reassignment on children, some of them as young as nine.
I’ll just say it. I don’t think it’s ever right, not ever, to perform these surgeries or to use these “treatments” on babies, children or teenagers. Not ever, not for any reason at all. I admit to being unreasonable about this, but my unreasonableness doesn’t come from just nowhere, it comes from a deep awareness of what is in these procedures for drug companies, for doctors, hospitals, the medical establishment, and what’s in it for gender loyalists, as well, which would be pretty much all of the patriarchal medical establishment, and what’s in it for white male heterosupremacists. My unreasonableness also comes from having born and raised 11 children.
I don’t think it’s ever right to circumicize an infant. Can the infant give consent? No. Is there anything wrong with the penises of most infants? No. Then there is no reason to cut, and it’s wrong for parents to, whether they do it so their child will “look like” his dad or other boys (horrible reason!), whether it might “prevent” “infections” down the line (soap and water are just fine), whether it will lessen transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (let’s teach our children about non-penetrative sex and and all of the many, many, wonderful, non-heterosexual-intercourse, forms of intimacy instead. Please!). The child cannot consent. Hands off.
I don’t think it’s right to immunize children, either, without their consent. I think it is completely wrong to immunize infants, especially the way it is done now, with a gigantic laundry list of agents for a huge number of diseases, all of these agents forced into the bodies of babies weighing 10, 15, 20 pounds. We have no *way* of knowing the long term effects of these new immunizations, in particular. Of course, as with now, when mothers realize how deeply their children have been harmed by the immunizations they received as babies, the medical establishment will then insist the parents are wrong, it’s all in their heads, there is some other cause, the immunizations are safe, and given the medical establishment’s monopoly on “truth,” given its power and money, well, it will be hard to argue. And so there will be all of these people with all sorts of problems because they were immunized — allergies, immune deficiency diseases, so called, especially — who become so many more people for the medical establishment to “treat,” even though it is the “treatments” which caused the problems to begin with.
I don’t believe in “well baby” care either. I don’t believe in taking babies regularly to doctors so it can be determined if their weight and height are “normal,” if their “progress” is “normal,” if their cognitive faculties or development are “normal,” because if there isn’t all of this beloved and worshipped “normalcy,” one of several things will happen: (1) parents — almost always mothers — will be suspected of negligence or abuse, especially if they are poor, of color, have many children, have biracial children, are disabled, are immigrants; (2) children will be subjected to sometimes invasive “treatments” for this lack of “normalcy” and if parents refuse them, see number 1; (3) children get sick when they are exposed to all the sick kids at the doctor’s office when they go for for their “well-baby” (!) visits; (4) the visits are expensive, parents without insurance can’t afford them, but when they don’t get them, see number (1).
Sensitive, caring parents know when their kids need help. They know this by the way their child behaves — significantly differently than the way she usually behaves — or by fevers, crying, sadness, depression, dramatic changes in behavior or sleep patterns. They know when a child seems to not hear or see well or when she is unhappy. Negligent parents may miss these things, but “well baby” visits won’t solve the problem of negligent parents, and even if they do in some cases, they create more problems than they solve.
Then, too, what do we communicate to children when, after having told them they have a right to say “no” to being touched by strangers or to anything a stranger does to them that is uncomfortable, we force them to submit to the touch and other actions of strangers because the strangers are “experts” and “doctors”? We are teaching them, in fact, that they cannot expect their having said “no” to be respected, that despite all we’ve told them about that, well, it’s completely arbitrary. Some adults may just freely touch them or do whatever they want and they must submit themselves no matter how they feel.
This idea that science and medicine exist to create or protect what white male heterosupremacy defines as “normal” is a destructive idea and the practices justified by it are violating, dehumanizing and wrong. There is no such thing as a “normal” girl that the theoretically “non-normal” should or can be “turned into” via surgeries and hormones and treatments. There is no such thing as a “normal” boy, either. There are just human beings in all of their infinite, amazing, beautiful diversity and uniqueness, which the world will completely miss, which we will all miss out on, if we keep approving and endorsing “treatments” which view uniqueness or straying from the “normal,” as set forth on pie charts and graphs and statistical tables established overwhelmingly by non-disabled white, privileged males, as “abnormality”. Using surgeries and hormones prophylactically, in order to “prevent” possible or theoretical problems in the future, is destructive and wrongheaded, not only because of the risks and side-effects of these prophylactic “treatments,” but because again, babies and children can’t consent to them, teenagers can’t give adult consent, and we don’t know what a child, a baby, a teenager might want, five, 10, 15, 20 years from now when she is grown, or how she might feel about what was done to her when she is an adult. If he or she has been subjected to circumcision, or to the Ashley treatment or to the sexual reassignment treatments advocated for by people like Lynn Conway, or similar invasive treatments prescribed or performed for any reason at all, and he or she would not have wanted or consented or approved of them as an adult, too bad. Too late now. There is no turning back. To me, this is a total and complete violation of the human and civil rights of children, the disabled, the theoretically “not normal.”
I think there is one and only one time when medical procedures should be performed on a person, including a baby, without their consent: when they are in imminent danger of losing their life. When, without the intervention, they would clearly die. I am talking about grabbing a person who has stepped in front of a car in order to get them safely out of the way, or inserting feeding tubes in someone who cannot feed themselves, or applying the Heimlich maneuver or other procedures when someone might die because they are choking. In these instances, consent can be assumed; we can (and should) always assume, absent clear statements to the contrary, that people would consent to having their lives saved. Beyond that, I think everybody’s hands and hormones and surgeries and procedures and preventive measures ought to be kept severely off of and away from the bodies of babies, children and teenagers and anyone who cannot give consent to them, no matter how “abnormal” they are in the eyes of rich and powerful men and institutions who have been defining “normal” for far too many thousands of years by now.