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Government launches call for evidence for intersex people

Ella Braidwood January 17, 2019
Baroness Williams, Susan Williams the equalities minister

"You cannot use faith as a smokescreen to allow a pretty abhorrent practice" (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Government Equalities Office as launched a call for evidence to better understand the experiences of intersex people in the UK.

The call for evidence will seek to gage the views of intersex individuals, or those with variations in sex characteristics (VSC), on a range of issues including the terminology used to described them and their experiences in school.

It will also ask respondents to discuss their views on medical operations on intersex people.

Government will ask intersex people about healthcare and medical interventions

In recent years, human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have condemned healthcare professionals for operating on intersex people, often at birth and without their consent, to give them typically “male” or “female” physical characteristics.

The government’s call for evidence will include further questions regarding sex assignment at birth, birth registration and correcting birth certificates.

“It is concerning to think that people in the UK may be afraid to visit the doctor or feel unable to take part at school because they are not receiving the support they need or deserve,” said minister for equalities Susan Williams.

Call for evidence for intersex people
The government’s call for evidence. (Government Equalities Office) 

“Everyone in this country has a right to an education, healthcare and to go about their daily life without intrusion or fear of humiliation.

“This call for evidence is a chance for us to learn more about people’s everyday lives, and I look forward to hearing more about their experiences.”

Call for evidence will ask intersex people about preferred terminology

The call for evidence will last for 10 weeks from January 17 to March 28. It’s open to anyone.

In November, Victoria Atkins, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Home Office, publicly announced the call for evidence for intersex people would begin “shortly.”

“It is concerning to think that people in the UK may be afraid to visit the doctor or feel unable to take part at school because they are not receiving the support they need or deserve.”

—Minister for equalities Susan Williams

The Government Equalities Office told PinkNews at the time that the call for evidence was launched as part of its LGBT Action Plan.

There are many different ways that a person can identify as intersex, which is an umbrella term encompassing those who are born with sex characteristics outside of the binary “female” and “male” definitions. 

For example, some people are born with XY chromosomes, while having internal testes, a vagina, and vulva.

Others are born with XX chromosome and have ovaries, while having genitalia that do not match the “typical” male or female appearance.

More: call for evidence, Government, intersex

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