6 January 2007

Femininity and Womanhood: the Ashley Treatment

In today's article in The Telegraph by Caroline Davies, "I want my girl to have the 'Ashley treatment'" (06/01/07), young Katie's mother, in Britain, reflects on the situation of Ashley from Seattle, the nine-year old with the condition called 'static encephalopathy.'

I can understand the problem of size and weight, but I would be concerned about the idea of giving a hysterectomy for the reasons presented in the article. Okay, so Katie wouldn't understand what was happening when she menstruated, but she would get used to it, just as a person gets used to other bodily functions. Was it not also uncomfortable and a nuisance when her baby teeth started coming out and new teeth began growing in? Surely the indignity of going to a dentist, or other medical interventions, are something the health care provider or caregiver has to come to terms with. Pain at this time of the month, during menstruation, isn't something all girls experience, so I wonder if the parents/caregivers' know for sure this something she will always experience. I can understand a hysterectomy being performed for the sake of convenience, since menstruation is a nuisance, but I question the reasons given here for having it done. It doesn't seem entirely rational or even fair in some ways, and might be detrimental to the way such a normal happening could be viewed by girls growing up who are reading about this. Is life better when one can remain a child and not have to experience the annoyances and challenges that 'growing up' present? In part this is about quality of life and the experience of life. If one is having to live a restricted life, is it preferable to remain a child forever or to experience something of what it means to be a woman? I have refrained from making any comments about sexuality, though an implied consequence of the proposed hysterectomy and possible hormone treatment would be to have sexuality no longer an issue.

I want my girl to have the 'Ashley treatment'
By Caroline Davies
6 January, 2007

Link updated April 18, 2012

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