Bid to outlaw forced genital surgeries on intersex children in California pulled

·3-min read

A California bill aiming to outlaw forced and unnecessary genital surgeries on intersex children has been pulled.

California state senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, has been working for three years to try to ban the “corrective surgeries”.

His bill, SB225, would have banned unnecessary surgeries on intersex children under the age of 12, but it has been stuck in the Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development, according to the Associated Press.

In 2020, the bill was opposed by committee chairman and state senator Steve Glazer, who said he believed it was moving “in the right direction,” but that he did not support the bill in its current form.

It has faced opposition from parents who want to make decisions on behalf of their children as well as the California Medical Association, and on Tuesday (4 January) Wiener said the bill “does not appear to have a viable path forward”.

He wrote on Twitter: “For three years, we’ve worked to pass legislation to protect intersex babies from medically unnecessary genital surgeries.

“Sadly, SB225 continues to lack the votes in the Business and Professions Committee. Despite this setback, I’m committed to this fight.”

Speaking to the Associated Press,Wiener added: “Pausing medically unnecessary genital surgeries until a child is old enough to participate in the decision isn’t a radical idea. Rather, it’s about basic human dignity.

“I’m not giving up, and I stand in solidarity with the intersex community in its fight for bodily autonomy, dignity and choice.”

Ebony Harper, executive director of California TRANScends, told PinkNews: “We are furious that SB225 had little to no support in the California state legislature. You can not claim pro-LGBTQIA+ liberties and drop the ball on protecting intersex babies.

“We hear stories of infant genital mutilation and the mental harm that it often causes.

“These archaic practices need to stop now… People are dying; there are high rates of suicide in our intersex communities because of mutilation. It is our duty to protect intersex babies, that will become intersex adults, defending them from non-consensual cosmetic medical interventions, violence, and protection from discrimination.

“That is our duty! And California has just dropped a huge ball… We will regroup and support any future bill to ensure protection from infant genital mutilation.

‘We want our intersex community to know you’re not alone, and we stand with you, love and support you.”

Intersex is an umbrella term, which encompasses those who are born with sex characteristics outside of the binary “female” and “male” definitions, and being intersex is thought to be as common as having red hair.

However, around the world, intersex children are forced to undergo unnecessary and cosmetic surgeries to “correct” their genitals.

These surgeries can cause long-lasting harm, and a 2013 United Nations report said: “Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery … leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering.”

There are currently no laws in the US, federal or state, which protect children from these surgeries.

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