Cutting back on coffee…
October 25, 2007 § 4 Comments
Yesterday I had the shakes all day long from coffee overload (couldn’t even write in Calc class!), so today I.will.not.drink.more.than.one.cup. That’s it. Even if it kills me.
Work at the PCBE was wunderbar: gollee I think I do more work in a day now working for Sam than I did in four weeks in the summer! Most of my time is spent studying diseases and screening technology. My teachers keep wondering why strange disorders like “severe combined immunodeficiency“, “congenital adrenal hyperplasia“, and “carnitine: acylcarnitine translocase deficiency” keep showing up in my papers. Interestingly, I did base my entire first Descartes paper this semester on SCID. And, believe it or not, I convinced my medieval theology teacher to let me write my term paper about nano.
I came across this article by Dr. Paul McHugh (of Johns Hopkins U) a while back, but was re-reading it yesterday. He brings up some very interesting issues relating to congenital adrenal hyperplasia:
Several conditions, fortunately rare, can lead to the misconstruction of the genito-urinary tract during embryonic life. When such a condition occurs in a male, the easiest form of plastic surgery by far, with a view to correcting the abnormality and gaining a cosmetically satisfactory appearance, is to remove all the male parts, including the testes, and to construct from the tissues available a labial and vaginal configuration. This action provides these malformed babies with female-looking genital anatomy regardless of their genetic sex. Given the claim that the sexual identity of the child would easily follow the genital appearance if backed up by familial and cultural support, the pediatric surgeons took to constructing female-like genitalia for both females with an XX chromosome constitution and males with an XY so as to make them all look like little girls, and they were to be raised as girls by their parents.
Sooo…what’s the way to go on this one? How should families raise their children? Male or female? Under the circumstances (and I think that it would be hard to make this decision *for* a parent of a child with CAH), I think it is best to reinforce the original sexual identity of the child. The problem with CAH is that the girls are often born indistinguishable from males, and the earlier they undergo surgery the better for their reproductive prospects later in life. These unfortunate girls should be raised as females alongside consistent hormone treatment and psychological counseling. Evidence seems to show that raising them as men leads to ambiguous sexual identity and confusion especially at puberty. One has only to look at a few forums frequented by those affected by the disorder to see the turmoil of their daily lives.
Ah well. That is enough thinking for one morning. If you would like to read the rest of the article, you can find it here at First Things.
As a side note, I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. McHugh personally in the summer, and found him to be personable, gentle, humble and sincere. Even knowing nothing about him (I was ignorant of his impressive work at the time), I knew him to be (excuse the Woody Allen quote) “a truly remarkable human being, a credit to his race”.