February 22, 2024

Australian women complain of ‘gender disappointment’

Government is studying whether or not to legalise sex selection

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. Australians who want to “balance” their family can go overseas to access sex selection technology with IVF. One popular destination is a company called Gender Selection Australia, an agent for a Los Angeles IVF doctor, Daniel Potter. His services cost one woman A$50,000, but she was ecstatic with her daughter after three sons:

PGD isn’t for everyone, but don’t take that choice away from somebody else. You don’t know how much that might mean to them. Some people might say that we are playing God, but isn’t all IVF playing God? Forget about the costs. Forget about people’s opinions. What matters is you and your family. 

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