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March 1997

To be Male or Female—That Is the Question

Author Affiliations

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, Md

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(3):224-225. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170400010002

Boys will be boys. Or is it quite so simple? In this issue of the Archives, Diamond and Sigmundson1 report a case with longitudinal insights illustrative of what "proper maleness and femaleness" might be. In a world of socioculturally directed political correctness, this can be a difficult subject to explore. For as we are barraged by media, sexual athletics, and voyeurism on one side, we are awash in sexual activism and gender politics on the other. Yet the fabric of sexuality often seems no more discernible today than it might have been to our forefathers, content as they probably were in their world of proper maleness and femaleness.

The case reported is that of a 46 XY child who was sex reassigned in infancy due to traumatic loss of the penis. This child, at least as his case evolved into early adolescence, is well known within the literature, referenced