State Senate Approves Protections for Intersex Children

Senator Wiener's bill opposes medically unnecessary gender corrective surgery on children who may show physical signs of more than one sex.

It’s been decades in the making, but Monday afternoon it finally happened: The California Senate approved a resolution 23-12 that calls on medical professionals to delay unnecessary surgery on intersex infants until they reach an age where they’re able to understand the ramifications and give their consent. The bill will now proceed to the Assembly for their review.

Sen. Scott Wiener drafted Senate Concurrent Resolution 110 after hearing from people who were negatively affected by the early surgeries. It’s not a small thing; Around 1 in 1,500 to 2,000 babies are born with physical or hormonal abnormalities that blur the lines of their sex. Until recently, it was standard practice to surgically alter the baby to fit a certain gender, and the child was raised accordingly. But as interpretations of gender have become more accepting and fluid, this practice has come under attack.

“This resolution recognizes that California’s intersex community is a part of our state’s diversity and should be embraced,” Wiener said in a statement. “Physicians should not immediately seek to ‘correct’ how people are born through irreversible surgeries unless they are medically necessary. 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. As a result, these surgeries should be performed only with informed consent by the person whose life will be permanently impacted. A baby cannot provide that consent.”

The resolution, which has already won the support of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, ACLU, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, Lambda Legal and interACT Advocates for Intersex Youth, will now move on to the Assembly for consideration. 

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