Bioethics News

Australian women complain of ‘gender disappointment’

Kate wants a daughter / ABC: Brant Cumming   

“Gender disappointment” is not a recognised medical condition. But many women in Australia – where gender selection is illegal — attribute their depression to it. Speaking to Australia’s ABC network, a woman using the pseudonym Kate described it as as “a guilt-ridden, debilitating depression”. She has two boys and she desperately wants a daughter. “Unless someone has that desire themselves and feels how it can be all-consuming, they can’t understand what it’s like,” she says. “It’d be so easy if I could just switch it off and just be happy.”

An ethics committee of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council is currently reviewing guidelines for assisted reproductive technology and may recommend the legalisation of sex selection.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a feature this week about the condition. A woman named “Lisa” told the SMH”

“I was faced with the realisation that it was possible, probable even, that I may never be the mother of a daughter. I was plagued by envy observing other mums with their tutu-clad little girls and I became haunted by the fact that my husband may never be the father of the bride, and every other gender cliche that I could possibly latch onto.”

Critics say that sex selection is the first step on a slippery slope to designer babies. Women also feel that they are being ungrateful for the children they already have if they make it known. So “gender disappointment” is complicated by social stigma.

But one person’s disappointment is another’s opportunity.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.