They're just babies. They have no choice or control over their own lives
, leaving them completely at our mercy. Yet routinely in the U.S., we violate and mutilate newborns' bodies, and it's completely sanctioned by law.
You might think I'm referring to female genital mutilation (FGM), but actually in this case, I'm talking about something else entirely. Specifically: genital surgery on intersex children.Sign the petition to demand an end to intersex surgeries on babies! Tell the American Pediatric Surgeon Association to take action now!
Being born intersex is actually a fairly common occurrence. It means being born with bodies (genitals or internal organs) that don't perfectly fit into the binary categories of "male" or "female." Since our standards for what sizes, shapes, measurements, etc. constitute "normal" are societally-constructed, these categories are fairly arbitrary anyway.
In order to force newborn babies' bodies to "fit" into our cookie-cutter molds for what we think they "should"
be like, doctors have spent decades operating on these children's sensitive, nerve-rich reproductive areas without ever telling them or giving them a choice. To be clear, these surgeries are not about health and they're not life-saving. They are cosmetic
, intended to make a child seem more "normal" and to assuage parents who are worried their child will be "different."
On top of that, as these children grow up into teenagers and adults, they have to live with the painful physical side effects of these operations for their entire lives.
Scarring can deaden their bodies' physical sensitivity and prevent sexual functioning, depriving them of their ability to enjoy sensuality forever. Pain in their sexual organs can haunt them permanently. Sometimes follow-up "maintenance" surgeries become necessary. Meanwhile, the surgeries often require these individuals to be on hormone replacements for the rest of their lives.
As if all of these horrible physical repercussions weren't enough, they don't even include another terrible consequence: the psychological horror of realizing what's been done to one's own body
without one's consent. For many intersex people, finding out the truth about their childhood medical records can be a huge undertaking, as families, doctors, and hospitals rush to hide the facts. But once they've learned how their autonomy and agency was stolen from them, and how their bodies were sliced and "fixed" and stitched back up without their knowledge, the psychological damage can be overwhelming.
LGBTQI+ activists and human rights organizations around the world decry these surgeries as a violation of human rights and basic ethics around consent. They couldn't be more right. Now it's time for powerful medical organizations to speak out, too. Thankfully, some groups are finally doing just that. In July 2020, Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, one of the most prominent children's medical centers in the United States, announced
it will no longer allow clinicians to perform these surgeries on intersex children. It also apologized for allowing such operations in the past.Now it's time for the American Pediatric Surgeon Association (APSA) to follow Lurie's lead.
The APSA is the largest professional organization for pediatric surgeon specialists in the United States, and has tremendous weight when it comes to regulating the industry and its member clinicians. The practice of violating children's bodies and surgically operating on them without their understanding or ability to legally consent must end NOW! Sign the petition to demand that the American Pediatric Surgeon Association immediately ban this practice for its members and disavow this horrific, yet widespread, practice.