California Passes Resolution Condemning Intersex Surgeries on Babies

It is the first state to pass such legislation.

California has become the first state to condemn medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex babies.

The legislature passed resolution SCR 110 on Tuesday, which argues intersex children should be given the chance “to choose whether to undergo life-altering surgeries that irreversibly—and sometimes irreparably—cause harm.”

Sen Scott Wiener
Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

While the practice is still not banned, even with the passage of this resolution, Sen. Scott Wiener (above), who introduced the legislation, told NBC it “recognizes that California’s intersex community is a part of our state’s diversity and should be embraced.”

He added that such procedures should only be carried out with informed consent from the patient, which a baby is incapable of giving.

“These surgeries can have significant negative impacts on people’s lives, particularly if the gender chosen by the physician and parents is different from the child’s ultimate gender identity,” he continued.

“California’s leadership on the protection of intersex children’s rights is not only an expression of solidarity and dignity, but a reminder that doctors take an oath do no harm,” Kyle Knight, a Human Rights Watch researcher and author, said.

“Medical professional associations should draw a hard line saying that unless surgery is medically necessary, intersex children have the right to grow up and participate in the decision to undergo surgical procedures.”

Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of interACT Advocates for Intersex Youth, also celebrated the news.

“It means for the very first time a U.S. legislative body has affirmatively recognized that intersex children deserve dignity and the right to make decisions about their own bodies – just like everyone else,” Zieselman told USA Today.

Last year, three former U.S. Surgeons General authored a joint letter calling for an end to the procedure, stating that “available evidence has persuaded us that cosmetic infant genitoplasty is not justified absent a need to ensure physical functioning.”

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