CA First State To Officially Condemn Intersex ‘Corrective’ Surgery

Between one and two percent of all babies are born with ambiguous or nonconforming genitalia. Typically, the parents of these babies will elect to “fix” the genitalia through surgery to correspond the child to one sex or another, but the ethics behind that choice are pretty murky. After all, the baby is too young to have any input about an often-irreversible surgery that alters their identity.

Sign the petition: Call on the AMA to discourage doctors from performing “corrective” surgeries. 

California took a big step in the right direction this past week when it became the first state in the nation to formally condemn genital “corrective” surgeries on intersex kids. Passed by lawmakers, resolution SCR-110 implores doctors and parents to put off any surgeries until the child is mature enough to make a decision. (That is unless there is a medically urgent need to operate; a minority of intersex children have complications that need to be addressed sooner than later.)

“For the very first time, a U.S. legislative body has affirmatively recognized that intersex children deserve dignity and the right to make decisions about their own bodies – just like everybody else,” said Kimberly Zieselman, head of interACT Advocates for Intersex Youth.

interACT collaborated with State Senator Scott Wiener to craft the resolution. Wiener introduced it to the legislature after coming to understand the “significant negative impacts on people’s lives, particularly if the gender chosen by the physician and parents is different form the child’s ultimate gender identity.”

It’s also important to note that intersex people should have the right to not choose a specific gender identity. Many intersex adults have embraced the parts they were born with and live happy and healthy lives without feeling a compulsion to fit on the binary.

Although doctors won’t be legally forbidden from performing surgeries on intersex babies, hopefully this will encourage medical professionals to counsel parents from a more ethical, enlightened perspective.

The resolution includes a quote from a mother who felt surgery was the only option for her child: “I just wish someone had said, ‘she’s okay, she’s perfectly healthy, there’s nothing wrong with her, surgery can happen later and here are some people who have been through your situation.”

Throughout history, intersex issues have largely been hush hush, yet intersex rights and advocacy have started to emerge more recently. Last year, New York City issued the first ever birth certificate recognizing a baby as intersex. A couple months prior to that, the United Nations took a stand similar to California calling on the world to give intersex a children a chance to develop their own identities.

Take Action

Let’s help propel this issue further and faster by joining California, interACT, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch in calling for a stop to these unnecessary surgeries. Sign this petition requesting the American Medical Association develop a policy against “corrective” surgeries to allow intersex children to discover their own identities before any such surgeries occur.

52 comments

Caitlin L
Caitlin Labout a month ago

thanks

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Joemar K
Joemar Karvelisabout a month ago

Thanks

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silja s
silja salonen2 months ago

bravo !!

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Leo C
Leo Custer2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Carol C
Carol C2 months ago

A great step forward. Petition previously signed. Hope that the AMA will soon adopt a policy to protect children from this unnecessary suffering.

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Leo C
Leo Custer2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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