This week, the California State Legislature passed a resolution denouncing "corrective" surgeries for intersex children, affirming the work of advocates who have argued for years that children are too young to consent to these procedures. This makes California the first U.S. state to pass such a resolution.
"It’s the very first time that a US legislative body has recognized that intersex children deserve bodily autonomy and the right to make decisions about their own bodies just like everyone else," Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of intersex youth advocacy group interACT, told Buzzfeed. "We’re hoping it’s just the beginning of more to come." The legislation passed in California was authored by interACT.
According to Buzzfeed, 1 in every 2000 children are born intersex. Since 1995, surgeons have performed "corrective" surgeries to align these children's genitalia with socially accepted ideas of male and female genitals. In recent years, organizations like interACT have fervently opposed these surgeries, with a U.N. group decrying them as a human rights violation with potential complications including "scarring, chronic pain, urinary incontinence, loss of sexual sensation or function, psychological damage, and incorrect gender assignment." Equally important is the fact that these children are unable to consent to surgeries that aim to "fix" something that isn't broken.
The new legislation, SCR110, doesn't prevent doctors from performing these potentially harmful surgeries, but intersex advocates are hopeful it will discourage the practice.