As activists mark Intersex Awareness Day – the day that celebrates people who are born with an indeterminate gender – here’s why the law still needs to catch up.
The day, which was started by Intersex activists in 2004, shows how far the world has to go with regards to intersex issues – with “corrective” surgeries for intersex children still commonplace, and intersex-bodied people often facing hostile bureaucratic systems.
Earlier this month, Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee heard evidence on laws surrounding gender identity
Intersex issues were not covered at all in the oral evidence – but the Centre for Law & Social Justice, University of Leeds, and Intersex UK submitted jointly authored written evidence highlighting the legal issues intersex bodied people face in the UK.
The issues they raised included;
– There being no specific coverage for intersex bodied people in the 2010 Equality Act and many other anti-discrimination laws. The government says intersex people are covered under laws protecting the ‘gender reassignment’ characteristic, but there is no explicit anti-discrimination law protecting intersex bodied people.
– No legal access to non-mandatory gender neutral documents. Currently intersex bodied people are forced to be legally male or female, which they are assigned at birth on the best guess of a doctor, even if their genitals, chromosomes and sex characteristics are conflicting or indeterminate.
– The lack of an official commitment to ban corrective “normalising” surgery – where an intersex bodied child is forced to undergo surgeries aimed at making them appear male or female, before they are old enough to understand or consent. Malta earlier this year became the first country to outlaw surgery on intersex babies.
– Under the Gender Recognition Act as it stands, trans and intersex people are allowed to be excluded by sporting bodies on the basis of their bodies.
– The Gender Recognition act also requires intersex bodied people who wish to change the gender assigned to them (usually at birth) to join the medical pathway with non-intersex bodied transgender patients and submit evidence to a gender recognition panel before changing their legal gender.
You can find more information on Intersex Awareness day here.
You can read the full evidence submitted by the Centre for Law & Social Justice, University of Leeds, and Intersex UK here.