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Surgery Performed At Birth A Source Of Grief For Woman Born Intersex

(CBS) -- We've been telling you about families dealing with their young children who were diagnosed as intersex - not clearly male or female. WBBM's Steve Miller spoke with adults who underwent surgery as newborns and faced a lifetime of grief.

Today they are called intersex. In the past, hermaphrodites.


There are so many uncertainties. For parents who choose to do no surgery - or for parents who do - questions like: What will happen when their child goes to school? Reaches puberty? Will he or she be able to have children?

Alexis Mickler wrote a poem after her girlfriend of 10 years left her because, Alexis says, she couldn't deal with the person who transitioned from Anthony to Alexis.

"I'm not male or female. A mixture - and scarred. And often, sometimes, I put up my guard. I've loved and been loved. And lost it all, while continually breaking down my own wall," she wrote.

Alexis wishes her parents, as well-meaning as they might have been, had not let the surgeons try to eliminate her femaleness almost 40 years ago.

"I should've been left alone. And if I wanted surgery of any sort... I should've been able to make that decision myself. That's it."

Alexis Minkler
Alexis Minkler. (Credit: Alexis Minkler)

Dr. Earl Cheng of Lurie Children's Hospital says the prevailing thought right now is that people are predestined, in their brains, from birth, to either think of themselves as male or female - or neither.

"And that no matter what we do, that's probably not going to change that person's brain. And there's sort of a newer saying that sex is no longer determined by what's between your legs. It's determined by what's between your ears."

This is the final part of a five part series. For part one, click here. For part two, click here. For part three, click here For part four, click here.

Lurie Children's Hospital is one of the medical centers in the Chicago area that treats patients with a variety of disorders of sexual development.

The DSD clinic estimates that 1 in every 4,500 children has a disorder of sexual development, although other estimates range from 1 in 1,500 to 1 in 5,000.

Lurie's DSD clinic currently treats 72 patients.

For more information on Lurie's DSD Clinic, click here.

Parents we spoke with for this series recommended the website

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