There is a strong link between intersex and IVF and how it is dealt with – lack of laws, secrecy, lies, forcing people to break laws. As a society we need to learn from our mistakes instead of repeating them in the best interest of children. Most people may not have heard about intersex or IVF (in vitro fertilization) or may not be affected by it – both are minorities. As per NIH data, about 1 in 2000 births are intersex while 1 in 20000 births are born with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS) – a subset of intersex. As per CDC data, about 1% of births in the US are through IVF while in a recent report, we as a world crossed the 5 million mark of having produced IVF children since its inception in 1978. Clearly, both are minorities and what is the link between the two? Secrecy and lies are never an answer to any issue. If there is increasing social conscience for intersex, should there be increasing social conscience for innocent, voiceless IVF children and families?
For us the reason for speaking up is a little IVF daughter who needs the compassion on humanitarian grounds. For us the reason to speak up is a little IVF son, her brother who needs the compassion on humanitarian grounds. Lending that to a greater good for equal rights for IVF children and families and equal rights for intersex families, even better.
- Intersex children who are born CAIS are born with male testes – this is natural. Due to stigma and secrecy, the medical community has dealt with sensitive issues with lies and breaking the laws. If compassion is shown to intersex children, why can’t we show compassion to IVF children?
- Intersex children were and still are being discriminated, should we repeat the discrimination now against innocent IVF children?
- If Immigration laws require a parent to have a “biological link” with a child born outside the US, then how can an infertile intersex person bring an IVF child born outside the US without breaking the laws? And if we are going to look the other way and show compassion to an intersex person instead of changing the laws then why can’t we show compassion to IVF children also? What if there is a DNA mismatch due to an accident at the IVF clinic, should we punish the innocent IVF child by making them stateless or help them get out of legal limbo?
- Parents of intersex are either taught to lie to their child and others by the medical community or they learn to lie due to secrecy and stigma. Should parents of IVF children also lie and how will this help the IVF child?
- Intersex children who grow up as adults feel betrayed due to the lies and secrecy and are demanding for a change. Recently, a first of its kind legal case was filed in the US for such controversial unnecessary intersex surgery. What should IVF children do who have been lied to and what will they do when they grow up into adults?
- There are medical professionals who do exist who have created fraudulent medical records with very bad consequences on innocent victims later. But at least there is a legal recourse as legal cases are now being filed. Similarly, IVFphiles also exist who place innocent IVF children in legal limbo or make them stateless, how do we ensure and protect the rights of an IVF child or are they dispensable human beings at the cost of infertile affluent adults?
- The medical community claims that if the male testes are not surgically removed, there is a risk of testicular cancer. What is the risk profile? Is it 5-10% risk? There are now studies available which claim that IVF children are a third more likely to develop cancer, 65% chance of leukemia. Should we continue to lie or help the IVF children by allowing access to the biological family in their own best interest?
- This widely “accepted” intersex surgery for decades has been called to a STOP by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in 2013 and thus showing that secrecy and lies are a failed approach. Should we subject similar “torture” on innocent IVF children in the name of secrecy and lies for next few decades and what good outcome will come out of that? How many more victims will the lies create and should we repeat our mistakes as a society or should we teach the future to accept the truth and empower them?
- In some countries intersex are given a legal recognition by respecting the truth which is “third gender”. Western countries are coming around and also recognizing the “third gender” which allows people the freedom to live in truth and respect instead of secrecy and stigma. If third gender exists, there will also be equal laws for the third gender to marry legally so that unsuspecting spouses don’t have to victimized and frauded into a marriage. There are intersex people who feel male or female or neither or both (as in third gender). Regardless what is important to recognize is allowing a person the freedom to feel what they want including spouses of intersex – a hybrid model of east and the west, truth with compassion.
- Immigration rights for same-sex marriages did not exist in the US pre-2013 (DOMA). What if an intersex person committed immigration fraud and got into the US while thousands of other same-sex couples waited years if not decades for their equal rights? If we can show compassion to an intersex person for immigration despite laws having been broken, why not show compassion to an innocent IVF girl child for immigration?
- A person with CAIS is a genetic male and sadly is infertile. When an IVF child is born, should a genetic male be allowed to “breastfeed” an IVF child when there is no milk? And if thats OK, then why can’t the biological father also take the same hormones and try to lactate and breastfeed the IVF child? It is sad enough that the IVF child has been taken away from the surrogate without any breast milk and then to subject him to abuse and starving him due to lack of milk in the breasts of genetic male. There are adoptive mothers or non-surrogates who have successfully breastfed adopted or IVF children with hormones. Two big differences – one is they are female and the second is presence of milk. Wishful thinking is great but not at the cost of secrecy and lies about abuse of an innocent IVF infant. How many mothers come home with infants from hospital and ask the fathers to breastfeed? Try to get in the shoes of an IVF father. If this is not child abuse, what is? What is the “greater good” in robbing candy from a child?
The lessons to be learnt are from Tony Briffa and Edie Windsor who accept the facts and respect the laws. They are educating and
spreading awareness for the greater good. Secrecy, lies, breaking the laws is a dead-end and does no good to anyone – the truth may help just one if not all and if done right at the very least truth may not hurt anyone.