Call to end intersex genital operations

crying baby, generic SPECIAL 987
Advocacy groups have called for an end to genital surgery on infants
with intersex conditions, saying many operations are not medically
necessary and are performed to reinforce a particular gender.

“No genital surgery is life-preserving, ” says Gina Wilson, president
of Organisation Intersex International in Australia. ”It&# 39;s cosmetic
and normalising. ”

In a submission to a recent Senate inquiry the organisation compared
such surgery to ”infant genital mutilation&# 39;’.

Ms Wilson said surgeons should wait until a child reached an age of
informed consent. The term intersex refers to people with genetic,
hormonal or genital features that are not completely male or female,
or a mixture of both.

Andie Hider, vice-president and medical liaison representative for the
Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group of Australia, said:
“Unless there is significant impairment that will cause ongoing health
concerns until it is rectified, I don’t think there is a justifiable
reason to operate.”

The group, which represents one category of intersex conditions, has
called for a moratorium on non-urgent medical intervention. The calls
come as new federal government guidelines that allow Australians to
tick a third box, the “X” box, signifying
“indeterminate /intersex/ unspecified” ; on all government documents and
passports, take effect on July 1.

The Senate this week is also expected to pass the the Sex
Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and
Intersex Status) Bill 2013, giving intersex people legal protection
against discrimination for the first time in Australia.

Medical studies estimate there are between one in 250 births for
milder intersex conditions, to one in 4500 births for rarer
conditions. This means intersex conditions are more common than Down

Melbourne’ s Royal Children’ s Hospital performs one or two
gonadectomies a year on infants with undescended testes. It also
performs 10 to 15 genital reconstruction operations a year, often on
girls under the age of two.

Ms Wilson points to several studies showing dissatisfaction among
people with congenital adrenal hyperplasia who had surgery as infants.

Andrew Bock

Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media



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