Gay News Network: We must put an end to normalising surgery

Gay News Network has kindly published an opinion piece by OII Australia president Morgan Carpenter:

While it may not be foremost in the minds of many gay men, the clitoris is the only part of any human body that’s purely designed for pleasure. But is too much of a good thing a bad thing?

Research on what constitutes ‘normal’ genitalia, for both men and women, is somewhat scarce – but labia reductions are becoming more common, and so a Dutch study in 2009 has looked into what doctors consider normal labias. It found that plastic surgeons were more likely to find larger labia minor “distasteful and unnatural, compared with general practitioners and gynecologists”. It also found that male doctors in all specialisms were more inclined than women doctors to opt for normalising surgery.

A Senate inquiry report released last month found such evidence ‘disturbing’: “Normalising appearance goes hand in hand with the stigmatisation of difference”.

More information


The Dutch research: W Reitsma, MJ Mourits, M Koning, A Pascal, B van der Lei, “No (wo)man is an island – the influence of physicians’ personal predisposition to labia minora appearance on their clinical decision making: a cross-sectional survey”, in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2011 8(8):2377-2385, doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02321.x,

The Senate report: Senate of Australia Community Affairs References Committee, report of inquiry, “Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia”. This report includes the quotation by Anne Fausto-Sterling. October 2013.

The report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture: Report of Juan E. Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, A/HR/22/53, 1 February 2013.