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February 19, 1997

Gender Shock: Exploding the Myths of Male and Female

JAMA. 1997;277(7):598. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540310096042

In the preface to Gender Shock, Phyllis Burke writes, "it is my goal to see the removal of the diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder in children from the world's psychiatric manuals." She believes that our culture does not allow people to grow up whole because of gender role acculturation; that parents force children into treatment for atypical gender behavior out of shame and fear that they will become homosexual; and that physicians, especially psychiatrists and pediatric surgeons, are the venal, repressive agents of a rigid culture.

Ms Burke wants to raise children in a culture of "gender independence." She wants to discourage the early establishment of gender identity and uncouple the link between gender and anatomical sex. Furthermore, she believes there is a minimum of five sexes, as she considers several forms of hermaphrodism to be separate sexes as distinct as male and female.

The author asserts that cultural transmission