SCR 110 Calls on the Medical Community to Delay Nonconsensual and Irreparably Harmful Surgeries Until the Individual Reaches Age of Informed Consent
On March 6 Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced the introduction of a resolution that will put California at the forefront in supporting intersex individuals and their families. Senate Concurrent Resolution 110 calls on the medical community to stop performing nonconsensual and often irreparably harmful sex assignment and genital “normalization” surgeries on intersex infants at birth. Instead, medically unnecessary surgery should be delayed until the intersex individual can decide for themselves whether to pursue surgery at all, at an age when informed consent is possible.
SCR 110 is sponsored by interACT, an organization that advocates for the human rights of children born with intersex traits, and Equality California. In conjunction with the resolution, Senator Wiener’s office hosted a briefing with interACT on Friday, March 2nd, in the Capitol titled “Unnecessary Intersex Infant Sex Assignment Surgeries.” A recording of the briefing can be streamed here.
“California has long been a leader for all people, and we can lead the way in supporting intersex children and their families,” said Senator Wiener. “Infants who are born healthy should not be forced into a medically unnecessary surgery, and our medical community needs to help families to take a more measured approach to surgery. Over time, as a child grows and they can make their own choices, then that is the appropriate time to discuss medical options.”
Approximately one in every two thousand individuals is born intersex, meaning that their genitals do not appear typically male or female. (A much larger number are born with intersex features that go unnoticed, such as internal testicles.) Although intersex infants occasionally require immediate medical attention – for example, a small number are born without the ability to pass urine – the vast majority are born perfectly healthy and able to live rich, fulfilling lives without any modification to their genitals.
SCR 110 calls upon the medical community to discontinue the use of sex assignment and normalization procedures on intersex infants, and instead let intersex individuals decide for themselves at an appropriate age whether to pursue surgery. The resolution also recognizes that intersexuality is not an aberration to be corrected but an important part of California’s diversity worthy of celebration.
“Passing this resolution will send a strong statement that California values the lives of intersex children,” said Kimberly Zieselman, Executive Director of interACT. “interACT, having been founded in Cotati and with our roots in the California intersex community, enthusiastically supports the legislature in doing the right thing to support intersex young people and their families. Over 10 years ago the San Francisco Human Rights Commission called for an end to these harmful medical interventions–this resolution is welcome and long overdue.”
“We thank Senator Wiener for introducing this resolution to support the intersex community and educate about the need to prevent practices that harm many intersex people,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “Intersex infants are subjected to unnecessary, life-altering surgeries when they are not able to protect themselves, and this resolution brings much-needed attention to this pressing human rights issue.”
The language of SCR 110 can be found here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SCR110
Recording of Friday’s hearing is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-riitmpGIjI#t=20m0s