Piece Comment

Review of RN Documentary: Intersex

When a child is born with an intersex condition (the presence of deformed or under-formed genitalia, or genitalia of both sexes), the situation is almost impossible to resolve gracefully. Often times, the condition is not obvious at birth (sometimes not obvious until the teen years) and can cause parents to have to make dire decisions that will impact the child's life in profound ways. Should the child's gender be "reassigned"? Should the child undergo surgery? Should the genitalia be removed or reconstructed? Further, the emotional impact of this condition and how one could lead a normal life is difficult for most people to fathom.

In this doc, Radio Netherlands takes a thoughtful and sensitive look at the intellectual and emotional struggles to help children born with this condition. The piece not only explains the science behind the condition (and various treatments), but also talks with a group of women who have dealt with the condition first hand. Their stories are complex and emotionally difficult (it is difficult not to empathize with all sides in their stories—no one could ever be prepared to deal with such terrible situation).

The producers of the doc do an amazing job of remaining dispassionate in their storytelling, steering clear of the many potential emotional landmines. They avoid the easy temptation to let the poignant weight of these stories overwhelm their journalism of the entire subject.

The results are complete and clear. Regardless of one's own feelings and conclusions about how these situations should be handled, every listener will be moved by it.