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Genital surgeries for intersex babies condemned in California’s landmark resolution

Sofia Lotto Persio August 29, 2018

Trans children who are supported are equally likely to have depression as cis kids (Pexels)

California has become the first state in the US to officially recognise intersex rights, passing a resolution condemning the practice of genital surgeries on children.

The Senate Concurrent Resolution 110 (SCR110) was passed on Tuesday by a majority of the California legislative assembly after it was introduced by Senator Scott Wiener with the support of various LGBT+ groups including interACT Advocated for Intersex Youth and Equality California.

The documents recognises “intersex children a part of the fabric of our state’s diversity to be celebrated rather than an aberration to be corrected.”

It also advises medical practitioners to take into account the wellbeing of intersex children and ensure they are able to make a free choice over “life-altering surgeries that irreversibly—and sometimes irreparably—cause harm.”

According to Human Rights Watch, the resolution in the first example in the US of a legislative assembly requesting the medical community to establish standards of care for intersex children.

“SCR110 signals the state’s respect for people born with variations in their sex characteristics,” said Kyle Knight, researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of two reports on intersex issues, said in a statement.

“This resolution calls on medical professional associations to honestly examine medical evidence and ethics and develop care standards that treat intersex people with the same respect as other patients,” he added.

Senator Scott Wiener introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 110 (Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Lambda Legal)

The term “intersex” is used to generally define those whose sexual or reproductive anatomy does not fit the typical male/female binary and encompasses several kinds of variations.

According to the Intersex Society of North America, as many as one in 100 babies will have characteristics that “differ from standard male or female,” and around one or two people in 1,000 births receive surgeries to “normalise” their genital appearance.

Various organisations including the World Health Organisation have described the surgeries as “medically unnecessary” that may involve “lifelong consequences” for the physical and mental health of those who are subject to the procedures.

Belgian model Hanne Gay Gaby is a prominent Intersex advocate that has campaigned with interACT (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

California’s decision was welcomed by LGBT+ activists who campaigned for the resolution.

“This legislation is a concrete step toward policy that honours the rights of intersex people,” the GLAAD organisation wrote sharing the news on its Twitter official account.

Siri May, United Nations Programs Coordinator for OutRight Action International, congratulated on Twitter California and interACT for supporting “the first ever successful piece of American legislation to recognise the human rights abuses faced by intersex people and celebrate intersex dignity.”

“We did it” interACT tweeted.

More: California, genital surgery, interact, intersex, Scott Wiener, US

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