Female Genital Mutilation is a SERIOUS problem worldwide. Sadly, worldwide includes North America. In particular it's recently become public knowledge that Doctor Dix Poppas of Cornell Medical University in New York has for several years been performing needless cosmetically motivated clitoral reduction surgeries on girls aged 4-7 brought to him by scared naive parents, whose clitorii he deemed, in his "highly respected medical opinion", too big. He claims his surgery is "highly unlikely" to leave any nerve damage, and to prove it, he has these naive scared parents bring their daughters back to him for yearly follow-up exams where he tests for possible nerve damage BY TOUCHING THEIR GODDEAMN GENITALS WITH A VIBRATOR WHILE THEIR PARENTS WATCH.
There's an article about this on Change.org with an accompanying petition to get Cornell University to stop these unneccesary procedures, though personally I think just stopping them is not enough. Poppas needs to be fired and stripped of any and all legal permissions to practise medicine. I have every day now been tweeting and facebooking that article/petition and will continue to do so until Poppas is stopped.
Why you may ask, am I so vociferously uppity about this case?
I was "surgically corrected" as a baby by a doctor with similar attitudes to Doctor Poppas about what qualified as normal. Like Poppas' victims, I was never consulted with, I gave no informed consent, and my genital as they were posed absolutely NO risk of any kind to my health. The decision to butcher me was purely a cosmetic one, and it has had permanent long-term impact, negatively, on my biology and my sanity.
I am a biological XX female. I have a uterus, an ovary, and at birth a vagina. I also have a 4 inch penis and a testicle. The doctors in charge of my post birth natal care decided my genitals were abnormal and that I had to be "fixed". They believed they were protecting me from a life of shame. Instead they garaunteed me such a life and forever buggared my health.
You see a Freedom of Information request got the notes unsealed for me, and the clinical cold detatchment with which they decided I needed fixing horrified me. They did NOT inform my mother, only my father, who instanty agreed to the procedure. My vagina was underdeveloped, a "pinhole" as the lead surgeon described it. No internal examination was ever made, they decided on butchering me purely on visual information. They proceeded to stick a superheated metal rod into my vagina to cauterize and kill any mucous membranes, and then sewed me up leaving as close to a proper scrotum as they could. 4 days later they sent me home with my mother and told her I was a boy.
Because however they left my uterus intact, I began to menstruate when puberty hit. I grew breasts. Having always believed I was somehow really a girl anyway, the breasts were a mixed blessing. They confirmed my girlhood but also got me repeatedly beaten the shit out of in school. And I'm sure you ladies reading this can imagine the fun of menstruating every month when the blood has nowhere to go. And for years NO doctor took my complaints of feeling chronically nauseous and sick at monthly intervals seriously, so no one ever found my uterus with tests until it was too late
I decided I must be a transsexual and began the process of transition, hoping to get a VOLUNTARY and MUCH needed genital surgery that would make me feel whole at last. When I got my SRS approval letters I was given a full physical to test my body for it's physical elegibility for SRS. THAT was when my true bio sex and long hidden uterus were finally discovered. Except by then my blood disorder had progressed significantly, and as they learned I was already female, they also determined that ANY invasive surgery stood a 98% chance of killing me from rapid uncontrollable blood loss. So not only could I NOT have my SRS, but I can't even be opened up in any way that would allow the menses to be evacuated during my periods. My body is forced every month to slowly and painfully re-absorb it and filter it out.
I have had 36 years of emotional and psychological trauma, and since puberty, been chronically permanently sick, because some idiot doctor looked at my genitals and decided to "fix" me.
Trust me when I say this because I say it with the impunity only an actual victim of his kind of monster can; Poppas is a repugnant monster, and I garauntee you he is doing irrepairable harm to these girls. This man MUST be stopped, as well as any who share his medical ideals. Unneccesary cosmetic genital mutilation of infants and young children to fit some societal definition of "normaL" MUST stop, everywhere, and forever. Be it circumcision or intersex "correction", it is NOT needed and universally does more harm than good.
Of course there are those who dismiss my experience as irrelevant. While I still tweet/FB the article daily, I no longer let myself physically visit the page itself lest I get sucked back in to pointless comment wars with two particularly arrogant and unapologetic Mansplainers. And no, I don't think all men suck or blanketly hate all men, but I think the term Mansplaining is an apt and justifiable term to describe when a man uses his male privilege to tell a woman that what she KNOWS from personal experience can't POSSIBLY be anywhere near as hard or bad or traumatic as she thinks it is because in his male experience he doesn't think HE would find it so bad, therefore it must not be.
Among other things...
I've been told Poppas surgery can't be traumatic long-term to these girls because having ENTIRE CHUNKS of their clitoral shaft shaved off and shortened is "no worse than a boy being circumsized".
I've been told, (despite having already told them I'm a survivor of both child molestation and gang-rape), that I'm insulting "real" trauma victims by daring to suggest his invasive follow-up exams border on school-sponsored child molestation and have serious potential to further traumatize these girls.
I've been told that having a q-tip and a vibrator touching these girls' genitals for 20 minutes invasively while Poppas asks them to rate sensation from 0-5 is no different than a boy having his testicles cupped for 3 seconds and told to cough, and that having their parents watch is somehow magically garaunteed to make trauma even less likely.
I've been told that SOLELY because Poppas is a highly respected doctor at a highly respected college, then he can ONLY be doing what he thinks is best for these girls and I should take the word of the highly respected male doctor over my own experience because my own experience doesn't apply here. Apparently because what I went through was worse, it's therefore so different that I have no right to form an educated opinion on any long-term effects Poppas' surgeries could have.
But unlike those two men, I DO have that personal experience. Because unlike them I have BEEN THROUGH THIS. And survived. What I am being told is that MY opinion as a woman who survived things these men never even came CLOSE to am less qualified to comment on it than men with opinions based on solely their own opinions and NO firsthand experience.
That would be like someone telling me I had no right to be supportive of our friend Autumn Sandeen for her night in prison a few months ago because my being raped every night for three months in juvey at age 17 wasn't exactly the same thing and so therefore I can't have an educated opinion of how Autumn may have felt scared of the possibility of sexual abuse for her one night in jail because my experience wasn't exactly the same.
Seriously, would ANY of you who read me have the balls to tell me, as a survivor of rape, molestation, and unneccesary childhood genital correction, that I am not qualified to have ANY opinion on what could be traumatic and cause long-term psychological and physical problems?
Please, go here.
Click the petition link in the top right corner and sign it. Regardless of what the mansplainers who would defend this monster and dismiss my experience would say, Doctor Poppas IS a monster and he MUST be stopped.
- Penny Sautereau-Fife