I know that as a class we are a pretty open group of people, but because this is a public blog (and because I am unsure how people will feel about me posting pictures) I am going to refrain from doing so for this particular post, however, if you are interested in finding pictures they are very easy to come across online. I will also warn you that the sites I have posted do contain graphic pictures, so don’t visit them if you don’t want to see the pictures.
Interestingly enough, I stumbled upon this topic after our class discussion of a utopian society in which all babies were born with the possibility of all inheriting any genetic traits from the entire population. A conflict arose when two groups of people argued whether or not they should “exclude the negative traits” without ever specifying what those negative traits are or might be. Well, I figure this is easily something that could be seen as a “negative trait”- the microphallus or micropenis.
According to http://www.micropenis.biz/p/micropenis-information.html and Wikipedia, a micropenis can be defined as “an erect penis that is 2.5 standard deviations less than the average human penis size”. However, the two sites differ on what the average erect human penis size is. The first site defines a micropenis as being 9 centimeters or 3.5 inches or less, while the second site defines it as 7 centimeters or 2.5 inches or less. According to the websites, 0.5-0.6% of the male population has this condition. But does having a condition mean that you suffer from it?
It is possible. Even the author of micropenis.biz says that he “suffers” from the condition. Some people think they no longer suffer if the condition goes away with some form of treatment.
In the 1960s and 70s sex reassignment surgery was recommended for the micropenis condition, and if the parents consented, the testes would be removed, an artificial vagina would be constructed, and the boy would be raised as a girl. Even at our very own Johns Hopkins Hospital they performed 12 of these surgeries. However, these surgeries were based on three assumptions that are now in question:
- gender identity and sex differences were solely a matter of social learning rather than biology.
- a male with a penis too small to put into a vagina could not find a satisfactory social and sexual place in society.
- a functionally acceptable vagina could be constructed surgically
Because intersex individuals and some of these patients believe that children’s sex organs, sexual identity, and gender identity shouldn’t be decided for them, or regretted the surgeries that have been performed on them, many of these surgeries have stopped and parents are waiting until their children are old enough to make the decisions for themselves.