Intersex Rights vs. Unnecessary Medical Intervention

Human bodies that don't fit a preconceived gender norm have in many times and places been violently rejected, from putting infants to death to tortures inflicted because of suspicions of witchcraft to, in modern times, socially mandated surgeries to make non-normative bodies conform to cultural expectations of male and female. In some cases, surgery can be necessary because of blockages or other true medical problems, but most surgeries are driven by the discomfort of parents and doctors with the biological fact that many babies are born with variant genitalia. An even larger number vary in less perceptible ways, internally, in chromosome and hormones, etc.

It is estimated that between 1 to 2% of people have had surgery (often as babies) to "normalize" their genitalia. These articles from intersex people and allies speak to the human rights issues:

cloth banner painted with doctor wielding knife over baby on operating tableIntersex Society of North America
The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) is devoted to systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female. We have learned from listening to individuals and families dealing with intersex that:

• Intersexuality is primarily a problem of stigma and trauma, not gender.
• Parents’ distress must not be treated by surgery on the child... [more]

ISNA recommendations for intersex kids


Intersex Medical Treatment and Sexual Trauma
Emi Koyama

Shifting the Paradigm of Intersex Treatment
Prepared by Alice Dreger, Ph.D., for the Intersex Society of North America

The fight for intersex rights

Full-Frontal Activism: Intersexed and Awesome

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