Showtime’s Masters of Sex wants you to know this about gender


Masters of Sex, Showtime’s envelope pushing show about the science of sex and sexuality in the 1950’s, addressed a very serious topic the LGBT community has worked to bring awareness to for years:  Gender assignment at birth.  I swear… this show is one of the most political shows on television today.

Season 2 Episode 3 trailer:

In Sunday night’s episode I watched as Dr. Masters explained to a new mother for whom he’d just delivered a baby, that the child had adrenogenital hyperplasia.  The new father was angry and hysterical telling his wife they didn’t need to know anything about it because no one would never know and he was damn sure not going to “hold it” meaning the baby.

Masters of SEx“It’s not ‘it’ Mr. Bomback… it’s a boy. The blood test conclusively shows the XY chromosome… understand the physical ambiguities are off putting, Mr. Bomback, but eventually a surgery will take care of it….”

The father became more hysterical – not wanting to take the new baby home.

“The baby is otherwise in good health, he’ll be released, and a surgical plan will be formulated” Masters began but the father demanded a surgery to assign the gender be done immediately hurling some unfortunate comment about a “freakshow on the boardwalk.”

The show takes place in the 1950’s so I it’s no shock that gender roles are a huge theme in the show from the idea of women owning their bodies and liking sex, to a gay husband subjecting himself to electroshock therapy to be able to have sex with his wife, to all sorts of marriage insanity.  But Dr. Masters nailed it with one simple line: “Well there’s a very wide spectrum of ‘normal’ as far as genitalia is concerned.”

The father demanded the doctor “cut it off” claiming the child would “never be a man.

Dr. Masters, instead, smacked the father down “Let me tell you how this is going to go, Mr. Bomback.  You’re family is going to leave here in a few days and you’re going to take some time to become informed.  Let your mouth catch up with your mind.  And you will come to accept that your son, YOUR SON, has a condition that can and will be corrected.  And when you come back here for the surgery that will make sure that his outsides match who he is inside, you’re going to thank me for protecting your child from your own poor judgment.”


Later in the show as Masters is describing the “condition” to his research partner (and mistress) Ms. Johnson who was shocked and appalled “That’s what they do they just make it a girl based on the issue of convenience?” she asked.

“Yes,” Dr. Masters said. “And fear…”

For the record, last fall, Germany became the first European country to allow babies to be registered as “indeterminate sex.”


It is one of the entertainment industry‘s most endearing qualities that it helps to expand understanding of things different from ourselves, increasing acceptance and providing a glimpse at differing perspectives at life experiences. That effort is a component of the successes we’ve seen on LGBT equality.



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