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Warning for triggers!

On The Stranger, columnist Dan Savage reports the findings of researchers Alice Dreger and Ellen K. Feder:

A pediatric urologist at Cornell—Dix Poppas—has been operating on little girls with what he judges to be oversized clitorises, cutting away important clitoral tissues, and then stitching the glans to what remains of the shaft. Poppas claims that, unlike past clitoral-reduction procedures, his procedure is "nerve sparing."
First big problem: "nerve-sparing" surgeries don't always work. And the chunks of these girls' clitorises that the doctor is cutting away—large pieces of their clitoral shafts—may be just as important as the clitoral glans ...

There's lots to be outraged about here: there's nothing wrong with these girls and their healthy, functional-if-larger-than-average clitorises; there's no need to operate on these girls; and surgically altering a girl's clitoris because it's "too big" has been found to do lasting physical and psychological harm. But what's most outrageous is how Poppas is "proving" that his surgery "spares nerves." Dreger and Feder:

... when a colleague first alerted us to these follow-up exams — which involve Poppas stimulating the girls’ clitorises with vibrators while the girls, aged six and older, are conscious — we were so stunned that we did not believe it until we looked up his publications ourselves ...

 

For those who wish to bring their concerns to the medical establishment at which this work is being performed, one of the commenters on Savage's columns has provided a link to a comment form on the website of Cornell's Weill Medical College; information entered via the form will be sent to the Weill Cornell Medical College Office of Public Affairs.

Thanks to macavitykitsune and a_mael for bringing this to my attention.

Comments

( 64 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
holzman
Jun. 17th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
It's not.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - lawless523 - Jun. 17th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - holzman - Jun. 17th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lawless523 - Jun. 18th, 2010 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - holzman - Jun. 18th, 2010 10:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 18th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - holzman - Jun. 19th, 2010 06:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 19th, 2010 08:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 19th, 2010 08:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 18th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jun. 19th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 21st, 2010 08:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - holzman - Jun. 17th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 18th, 2010 01:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 18th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 18th, 2010 02:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 19th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 19th, 2010 02:33 am (UTC) - Expand
lawless523
Jun. 17th, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
It makes me wonder what happened to Cornell Medical School's IRB. This should not have passed ethics review.

I thought we'd learned to leave children's genitals alone from such travesties as the surgeries John Money of Johns Hopkins engaged in, which have now cast doubt on the medical legitimacy and usefulness of gender reassignment surgery even for transgender/transsexual persons.

However, this is most likely unethical and bad medicine and bad science, but not per se illegal, because the doctors had to have parental consent. The parents might be able to sue for malpractice for failure to give informed consent (for being lied to, basically), but I can't see these cases being prosecuted as assaults.
a_mael
Jun. 17th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
but I can't see these cases being prosecuted as assaults.

Exactly. Which, of course, is what makes professional censure so incredibly important, here. I can't see any real way in which these children will ever have legal recourse to address what's been done to them. Malpractice, possibly, but I'm not confident that this doctor hasn't got his ducks in a row on the consent issue. After all, he's been doing this for many years, now.

And the IRB...wow. I can't even describe my rage that this loon got past them.
(no subject) - lawless523 - Jun. 17th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_mael - Jun. 17th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lawless523 - Jun. 17th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 18th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lawless523 - Jun. 18th, 2010 02:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 18th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lawless523 - Jun. 18th, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 18th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lawless523 - Jun. 18th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 19th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 19th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 18th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_mael - Jun. 18th, 2010 07:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 18th, 2010 09:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jun. 19th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 21st, 2010 08:32 am (UTC) - Expand
a_mael
Jun. 17th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Cho. Mac and I were nearly hysterical when we made our posts last night, so they're not terribly coherent. We appreciate the post that makes more sense. *sheepish*
chomiji
Jun. 18th, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)

I didn't think you sounded hysterical!

Really, sorting stuff out and editing it and writing it up so that it makes sense is my job. It helps, for something like this, for it to be second nature - I just went into deadline mode (it helped that I needed to finish quickly and go to the office).

BTW, "Oh No They Didn't" has picked this up - not from my write-up here, I don't think, but it will certainly get a lot of exposure there.

(no subject) - a_mael - Jun. 18th, 2010 07:46 am (UTC) - Expand
macavitykitsune
Jun. 17th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks so, so much for picking this up, Cho. I was in tears and nearly throwing up last night when I posted mine (we both were) and it reads rather incoherently this morning *sheepish* I'm glad this is getting out there, and hopefully this sick fuck will be prevented from doing this to more children in some part because of it.
chomiji
Jun. 18th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)

Aww! >hugs< No worries! Really, as I said to a_mael, making quick sense out of a chunk of written stuff and presenting it so it will make sense is a lot of what I do for a living every day. I just hope it does some good.

"Oh No They Didn't" has picked up the story (I doubt they got it from here, though). They may not be the most respectable venue in the world, but people were responding in a sensible fashion, with address for writing to protest and so on.

avierra
Jun. 17th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Wow. This sounds like something from the Victorian era. Thanks for pointing this out.
chomiji
Jun. 18th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)

It's really sad how Victorian some people's attitudes toward sexuality still are.

7veilsphaedra
Jun. 17th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
Any type of female circumcision is illegal in Canada, and punishable with imprisonment. Other permutations of the issue have been coming up in the news lately, specifically as a result of this reversal by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The idea is that a ritual 'nick' or 'cut' is better than parents flying their daughters to states with repressive religious theocracies to thoroughly and permanently maim them.

Obviously, the discrepancy has meant that there is a loophole for this sort of twisted pseudo-medicine.
chomiji
Jun. 18th, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)

From the sound of it, this has been going on at Cornell for some time, so I don't know how much the recent AAP advisory has to do with it. But it's an impressively horrifying example of how some parents can be overwhelmed by the patter of a person with medical authority.

(no subject) - 7veilsphaedra - Jun. 18th, 2010 08:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
redbrunja
Jun. 18th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
I don't even know were to begin.

A fucking doctor sexually abusing girls in the name of 'normality.'

(And btw, I said as much in the comment form.)
chomiji
Jun. 18th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)

There are so many reasons that a person can go into medicine. People who have a fascination for "what makes things tick" but who are lacking in either empathy or ethical compass (or both) can easily start off down a very dark path with the experimental urge.

This guy probably had a certain empathic talent, though, or he wouldn't have been able to convince so many parents that the "followups" were necessary.

(no subject) - redbrunja - Jun. 18th, 2010 08:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 18th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 19th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 19th, 2010 03:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 19th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 19th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Jun. 19th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 24th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Jun. 25th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Jun. 25th, 2010 02:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redbrunja - Jun. 21st, 2010 08:15 am (UTC) - Expand
sovay
Jun. 18th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
All right; so jail him for sexual abuse and Cornell had better provide therapy for those children for years, because they are going to need it.
chomiji
Jun. 19th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)

You have summed it up quite well.

(no subject) - sovay - Jun. 19th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC) - Expand
lady_ganesh
Jun. 19th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
This makes me so sick. THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THESE GIRLS.

EDIT as it's been linkboosted more: Actually THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THESE CHILDREN, as apparently some of these kids have 'ambiguous genitalia' and some were XX and some XY and WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO LITTLE KIDS OMG.

Edited at 2010-06-20 01:30 am (UTC)
redbrunja
Jun. 21st, 2010 08:16 am (UTC)
Right, because we absolutely much squash ANY AND ALL GENDER AMBIGUITY IN THE UNIVERSE.

Sometimes people are just flat-out terrible.
( 64 comments — Leave a comment )

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