"Is it a boy or a girl?"
It's the first question many new parents hear and sometimes the answer is "neither" or "whoever they want to grow up to be."
Since the 1800s, babies born intersex — a broad umbrella term that refers to people born with reproductive anatomy that doesn't match society's expectations for men and women — have been subjected to invasive, sometimes dangerous surgeries to "correct" their genitals. These surgeries leave scarring, cause incontinence, create sexual dysfunction, and traumatize people. Parents would lie about the nature of procedures and follow-up testing to conceal their children's medical history, in a huge breach of trust.
That's starting to change as intersex advocates question the press to perform surgeries as early as possible, arguing that delaying gives youth a chance to be active participants in the decisionmaking process in cases when surgery is cosmetic, not needed for life-saving reasons. The state of California has been following their lead — in 2018, the state officially condemned nonconsensual surgery on intersex minors.
Now, some lawmakers want to ban it in cases where it's purely cosmetic, with legislation that would allow intersex kids to grow up in their own bodies without interference. When they're older, they can get information about their options and decide what treatments, if any, they might want.
Currently, the bill is headed for committee hearings. Your lawmakers need to hear from you: We want California's legislature to have a chance to vote YES on this landmark bill. California could become the first state where this practice is banned, making it a much safer place to be born intersex.
A state that's leading the way on human and civil rights should be proud to pass legislation that lets kids figure out who they are before committing to irreversible surgical procedures. Let's make it happen!
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