Rethinking Gender Identity

Traditionally, gender was thought to be binary – children were born girls or boys. Robin Marantz Henig joins us this hour to talk about how scientists are adopting a more fluid understanding of gender and rethinking identity in the process. She writes about the topic in the January issue of National Geographic magazine.

Robin Marantz Henig on …

… what happens when a child is born intersex:

“The assumption, at least 25, 50 years ago was that they should just turn the genitals into one or the other. Tell the parents that is what they had, tell the child that is what the child was, and everybody would be none the wiser … What they do now is assign the child a gender, generally based on the child’s chromosomes, and try that out for a while. Don’t do the surgery, but explain to the parents what the situation is, give the child one gender or the other, and then see how the child develops.”