Lawmakers in California and New York propose bills that would effectively prohibit surgery on intersexual children unless the operations were medically necessary.
Babies born with chromosomal or anatomical features that are not neat in the traditional definition of & # 39; biological sex & # 39; often undergo surgeries to change their bodies within the first few months of their lives.
They cannot make a decision about their own gender identity at that point in life, so Senator Brad Holyman proposes legislation that requires patients to give informed consent before undergoing such procedures.
It reflects a bill proposed by Senator Scott Wiener from California in April.
Operations to change the bodies of these children run the risk of leaving them sterile, scarred, incontinent and psychologically traumatizing, according to a Human Rights Watch report published in 2017.
The proposed bans have received support from much of the intersex community, but the Medical Association and Urological Association of California are opposed to the proposed state legislature and say that it is an overreach that hinders the rights of parents to make decisions about their children.
The New York bill will protect & # 39; intersexual children from medical intervention and enable them to make these decisions for themselves when they are willing to do so & # 39 ;, Hoylman said CNN.
A New York state senator proposed a bill on Friday requiring patients, not parents, to give informed consent to operations to change intersex genitals, effectively prohibiting procedures for infants and young children unless they are medically necessary ( file)
& # 39; These individuals must have autonomy over their bodies.
& # 39; But under the current legal construction, intersex people, as babies & children, may be forced to undergo irreversible operations that can cause physical pain and emotional stress later in life. & # 39;
People with intersex make up about 1.7 percent of the population – about the same percentage as redheads – according to the InterAct interest group, which supports the legislation proposed by Senator Hoylman.
It is a collective name for people with a wide range of sex-related characteristics that, according to traditional definitions of male and female, can be described as a combination of the two sexes or do not fall into either category.
Often their genitals appear externally different from these traditional definitions of both binary genera.
It is more difficult to determine the number of these individuals who undergo a & # 39; genital normalization & # 39; operation than to estimate how much intersex there is in the total population, but the Intersex Campaign for Equality estimates that it is about one to people per 1000 live births.
All these operations involve risks, many of them are in-depth.
Removing gender glands can amount to sterilization without the patient's consent and may require lifelong hormonal replacement therapy, wrote the authors of the Human Rights Watch report.
When performed on infants, these operations can damage the genitals and nerves that are not fully formed, and the later realization that they have changed from the form in which they were born can be deeply traumatizing for intersex children and adults.
As a trio of former American surgeons noted in a 2017 report, there is in most cases no reason why these operations cannot be postponed – if children or adults decide they want them altogether.
Representatives of the United Nations even took & # 39; involuntary genital normalizing surgery & # 39; were carried out on those children in a report condemning forms of torture in other countries.
Yet the American medical community remains divided.
In response to the proposal from Senator Wiener, a representative of the California Medical Association said: & # 39; Based on the available data, neither the total postponement of surgery until the age of consent, nor the early execution of surgery is risk-free, and clinical evidence for risk assessment methods at this stage is still not decisive for enabling legislation between options between options, & # 39; Bay Area Reporter.
But some members of the intersex community could not be clearer about their perspective on the operations.
& # 39; Genital normalization of operations such as clitoral & # 39; reductions & vaginoplasty cause deep shame and sexual trauma in young children when they cannot make a decision for themselves, & # 39; Kimberly Zieselman, an intersexual woman and executive director of InterACT, who has told the New York bill CNN.
& # 39; That these abuses of intersex youth continue after decades of advocacy proves the intensity of the shame and anti-LGBTQ bias that play out.
& # 39; We are so grateful to Senator Hoylman that he has brought New York to the right of history. & # 39;
The announcement of the New York proposal comes after the California bill has been placed on the 2020 agenda of the state legislator.
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