interACT staff, Senator Wiener, and allies from ACLU and EQCA pose in a group shot.

interACT staff, Board, and Youth members pose with sponsoring Senator Scott Wiener and allies from the ACLU and Equality California. (Eler de Grey)


California’s Legislative Fight to Protect Intersex Children From Nonconsensual Genital Surgeries Pushed to 2020

Senator Wiener and the medical professionals and civil rights organizations supporting SB 201 will bring it back for a vote in January of 2020. Download the press release PDF here.


San Francisco–Earlier this year, in collaboration with Senator Scott Wiener, Equality California, and the American Civil Liberties Union of California, interACT introduced Senate Bill 201, seeking to put an end to the deeply harmful medically unnecessary surgeries performed on intersex children throughout the state of California without their consent.

Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced that SB 201 will be pulled from the 2019 legislative session and pushed to 2020. After hearing testimony on the bill last Monday, the Committee decided to postpone the vote to see if consensus could be reached between the bill’s supporters and medical associations that had previously refused to negotiate with Senator Wiener.

Our bill has received an overwhelming wave of support not just from California but from across the nation and the globe. It reflects the growing, worldwide recognition that these surgeries must end. We learned not one, not two, but four other states in the US were considering similar bills. We saw the European Parliament instruct EU member states to pass legislation similar to SB 201 in this past February’s intersex-affirming resolution. We knew this would be an uphill battle, but one we were coming into with an army of supporters on the right side.

SB 201 was created with input from youth. From adults. From people of color. From disabled people. From trans people. From republicans, democrats, and people in between. From immigrants. From intersex people with CAIS. From intersex people with PAIS. From intersex people with CAH. From intersex people with hypospadias. From people who don’t use the term intersex. From people who proudly use the term intersex. From parents of intersex youth. From physicians. From allies.

Our efforts came to a head on April 1st, when our bill was heard by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development—and opposed by the California Medical Association, the American Association of Clinical Urologists, the American Urological Association, the California Society of Plastic Surgeons, the California Urological Association, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the Societies for Pediatric Urology, and the CARES Foundation.

We anticipated it would be a difficult hearing. What we didn’t expect was that the testimony of our representatives, interACT Executive Director Kimberly Zieselman and board member Dr. Ilene Wong, would be so impactful that the Chair of the Committee, who was previously opposed, would ask to postpone the vote for a week so that he could further consider the issue.

To give the bill its best chances, he asked Senator Wiener to make the bill a two-year project. Instead of being put forward through committees in 2019, we will continue into the next session. We will not be starting from scratch. We will spend the next year working with our current supporters, new supporters, and our opponents to create the best bill possible. We will be joined in that effort by Senator Wiener, our incredible co-sponsors at the ACLU of California and Equality California, and allies including the AIS-DSD Support Group, Amnesty International, GLAAD, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, Human Rights Watch, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Palm Center, PFLAG, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Trevor Project.

In the meantime we think it’s important to reflect on the impact that our bill has had on intersex people everywhere. “SB 201 has not only already raised tremendous intersex visibility in California and national media, it has given our entire community hope that compassionate and ethical care for children born with intersex traits is on the horizon,”reflected Kimberly Zieselman, interACT’s Executive Director.

Positive coverage of the bill appeared in over 28 news sources. People read headlines like “California Could Become the First State to Protect Intersex Youth” and heard from sources including TIME (via the AP), NBC, KQED, and even FOX News. This year, interACT has continued to make history. We can’t wait to show California what 2020 has in store.


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Dr. Ilene Wong-Gregorio, an interACT Board member and urologist in support of SB 201, speaks with interACT Youth members. (Eler de Grey)

California’s Senate Business & Professions committee hears SB 201 on April 1st, 2019. (Eler de Grey)

interACT Executive Director Kimberly Zieselman addresses the coalition before SB 201’s first committee hearing. (Eler de Grey)

interACT staff, Board, and Youth members pose with sponsoring Senator Scott Wiener and allies from the ACLU and Equality California. (Eler de Grey)

interACT staff, board, and allies walk to SB 201’s first hearing in Sacramento. (Eler de Grey)

Dr. Ilene Wong-Gregorio Kimberly Zieselman, Executive Director of interACT, speak to legislators about SB 201. (Eler de Grey)