By Kimberly Zieselman, interACT Executive Director

November 8 marks International Intersex Day of Solidarity — and this year in the United States, more allies are standing with us than ever before. The number of human rights organizations, medical associations, and LGBTQ groups declaring their support for the bodily autonomy of intersex people is only going to keep growing. In addition to this summer’s groundbreaking Human Rights Watch report and unequivocal statement from three former US Surgeons General, here are a few statements that are hot off the presses – just since Intersex Awareness Day a week ago!

  • Physicians for Human Rights expressed that they were “deeply alarmed by the fact that
    [intersex children] are often subjected to irreversible and medically unnecessary surgeries that seek to alter their gonads, genitals, and/or internal sex organs before they are able to provide informed consent” and “call[ed] for an end to all medically unnecessary surgical procedures on intersex children before they are able to give meaningful consent to such surgeries.”

 

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recognized Intersex Awareness Day and affirmed that “[p]ediatricians have the responsibility to offer useful and reliable information, to help the parents access specialists, and to coordinate the child’s care. Above all, it’s important to support the child and family.”

  • The North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology released a statement with the support of the Pediatric Endocrine Society declaring that: “We believe in respecting the autonomy of the individual patient as well as providing ample support and guidance for the patient and family. … [I]f surgical interventions could be safely delayed, patients would have time to express their gender identity and to be actively involved in the decision making process. True informed consent or assent includes an accurate discussion of the options, benefits, known short and long term complications, expected pain and recovery, as well as need for reoperation.”

  • The American Medical Student Association “urges medical schools to include comprehensive, mandatory curriculum and provide training on intersex health such that children born as intersex are afforded bodily autonomy and self-determination, and so that care is delivered in a patient-centered, consensual, equitable model.”

  • GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality commended the other medical associations who had condemned medically unnecessary, non-consensual surgeries on intersex children, “call[ed] on all health professional associations to take similar steps to address the health of intersex children and adults[,] and pledge[d] to work with any association seeking assistance in these efforts.”

  • Chase Strangio with the American Civil Liberties Union noted that “[i]t is plainly unethical, cruel, and unnecessary to perform surgeries on the genitals of children and infants because we are afraid that their bodies do not seem normal and out of an impulse to ‘assign’ a binary sex to a child before that child can articulate their gender.”

  • The US State Department recognized that “intersex persons routinely face forced medical surgeries without free or informed consent [that] jeopardize their physical integrity and ability to live freely.” We at interACT hope they will additionally support intersex rights by issuing an accurate passport to intersex plaintiff Dana Zzyym in the lawsuit brought by the Intersex Campaign for Equality and Lambda Legal

These statements indicate what we, and all the intersex advocates working along with us, have known all along–that children born with intersex traits deserve respect, recognition, and protection of their human rights. The organizations above are beginning to take the steps necessary to bring about a world in which intersex children aren’t just accepted, but celebrated. We appreciate all the work behind the scenes to bring these statements forward and will continue to work tirelessly to get eve