April 4, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Intersex Rights Bill Tabled Until Next Year

A state bill designed to provide intersex individuals with informed consent for medical treatments regarding their sex characteristics has been pushed to a vote in 2020

 Last week, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced that legislation to ensure intersex individuals—a term used often used by people born with variations in their sex characteristics, including genitalia—can provide informed consent before any medical treatments or interventions that could irreversibly affect their fertility or sexual function, will be pulled from the 2019 legislative session and pushed to 2020. After hearing testimony on the bill last Monday, the Committee decided to postpone the vote to see if consensus could be reached between the bill’s supporters and medical associations that had previously refused to negotiate with Senator Wiener. 

Senate Bill 201 would give individuals the opportunity to delay medically unnecessary, potentially harmful, irreversible procedures until they have the ability to make an informed decision for themselves. 

“SB 201, at its core, is about giving people born with variations in their sex characteristics autonomy over their own bodies and lives. When it comes to choosing deeply personal interventions for an individual when they may not be wanted, acting is risky, while waiting costs nothing,” a press release stated. “Delay gives individuals and their families the most options, including access to future medical advances once the patient can understand the risks and their own priorities. Senate Bill 201 would not have prohibited treatment or surgery when medically necessary; it simply prohibited medically unnecessary surgeries on babies that are purely elective and based on a desire to “normalize” a child’s genitals. Some of these surgeries include invasive procedures such as reducing a clitoris, creating a vagina, or removing healthy gonadal tissue. They can also lead to assigning a gender before an individual has the opportunity to express a gender for themselves.”

Comprising approximately 1-2 percent of all people, those born with both with variations in their sex characteristics, sometimes referred to as intersex traits, aren’t rare—they are just invisible. A subset of these variations are recognized at birth, while others may go unnoticed until later in life, if ever. Although a very small percentage of intersex infants may require immediate surgical intervention—for example some are born without the ability to pass urine—the vast majority are born with no health issues related to their genitals and are able to live rich, fulfilling lives without any modification. 

“We’ve made significant strides in California to protect the right of sexual minorities to determine our lives and make decisions about our own bodies, but much work clearly remains to raise awareness and educate about this important civil rights issue, both in the Legislature and in the medical profession,” Wiener said. “Progressive California should not be denying individuals the basic human right to decide what happens to their own bodies, yet that is exactly what is happening as surgeons and parents assign genders to babies without any actual input from that child. SB 201 stands for a very basic and common-sense notion: That individuals should choose for themselves if and when to undergo life-altering and gender-assigning surgeries that aren’t medically necessary. Our broad coalition of intersex advocates, medical professionals, LGBT advocacy organizations, parents, civil rights organizations, and affected individuals look forward to the day when this basic human right is respected and protected by law, and we will continue to fight to make this vision a reality.” 

Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, physicians began modifying the genitals of infants they considered atypical. These treatments and interventions have included infant vaginoplasties, clitoral reductions, and removal of gonadal tissues, and may result in extreme scarring, chronic pain, incontinence, loss of sexual sensation, post-traumatic stress disorder, and incorrect gender assignment. While a number of doctors continue to perform these irreversible procedures in infancy based on the theory that they will help intersex people feel more “normal,” no research definitively proves that claim, or the assumption that conformity is more important than autonomy over their bodies. All major groups led by affected adults condemn the practice when performed without the consent of the individual involved.   

Three former Surgeons General, who were appointed by Presidents of both parties, oppose medically unnecessary genital surgery on intersex babies stating, “When an individual is born with atypical genitalia that pose no physical risk, treatment should focus not on surgical intervention but on psychosocial and educational support… [I]ntersex persons routinely face forced medical surgeries that are conducted at a young age without free or informed consent. These interventions jeopardize their physical integrity and ability to live free.” 

 “SB 201 has not only already raised tremendous intersex visibility in California and national media, it has given our entire community hope that compassionate and ethical care for children born with intersex traits is on the horizon,” said Kimberly Zieselman, Executive Director of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, an intersex woman herself affected by the surgeries.

 “At its core, SB 201 is about the State of California respecting each and every person’s autonomy over their own body and their own gender identity,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “California has led the way in protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ people over the last 20 years, and the fundamental principle underlying those protections has been respect for an individual’s own sexual orientation, gender identity and autonomy over their body. The bill’s delay today means that thousands more Californians will be subjected to medically unnecessary and often irreversible procedures aimed at ‘normalizing’ their bodies—without their consent and before they have any sense of their gender Identity.”

 “We are proud that SB 201 has brought awareness of this marginalized population of children to the legislature. California already prohibits certain other practices with high risks of irreversible harm from taking place during childhood. SB 201 is in line with this approach and will help ensure that care is centered on the needs of patients themselves, not the ‘normalization’ of their bodies,” said Becca Cramer-Mowder, Legislative Coordinator and Advocate for the ACLU of California. 

SB 201 builds on Senator Wiener’s Senate Concurrent Resolution 110, passed in 2018, which called on the medical community to delay performing medically unnecessary sex-assignment and genital “normalization” procedures until an individual can provide informed consent. The resolution was the first of its kind in the nation, and called on the medical community to create clear guidelines to protect this population of vulnerable children. Unfortunately, the California medical community failed to act, and it became clear that SB 201 was needed to drive this next step. The bill was opposed by the California Medical Association, the American Association of Clinical Urologists, the American Urological Association, the California Society of Plastic Surgeons, the California Urological Association, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, and the Societies for Pediatric Urology.

Related Posts

WeHo’s High COVID-19 Rate

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

City of West Hollywood has highest rate of COVID-19 in LA Countywide, LGBTQ population at risk By Sam Catanzaro As...

Elderly LGBT people in California at high risk for COVID-19 illness

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

By Staff Writer 162,000 LGB and 9,000 transgender elderly people in California at high risk for COVID-19 illness, according to...

Los Angeles LGBT Center on Coronavirus Resources

March 22, 2020

March 22, 2020

The Los Angeles LGBT Center has released the following recommendations for members of the LGBTQ+ community during the novel coronavirus...

West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico Tests Positive for the Coronavirus

March 19, 2020

March 19, 2020

57-year-old mayor in self-quarantine By James Mills West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico has tested positive for the coronavirus. West Hollywood...

Coronavirus’ Added Risk for LGBTQ+ Communities

March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020

More than 100 LGBTQ+ organizations have signed an open letter outlining the added risk the novel coronavirus poses on the...

Long Beach Pride Postponed

March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020

Event to be rescheduled for later in the year By James Mills Amid coronavirus concerns, both LA Pride and Long...

Find Out What Country Has Banned Conversion Therapy: E.P.I.C Pride show – March 16, 2020

March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020

Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture.* Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn co-starring again?* Country...

LA Pride Postponed due to Coronavirus

March 13, 2020

March 13, 2020

Organizers assessing situation By James Mills Amid coronavirus concerns, LA Pride officials announced Thursday, March 12 that it was postponing...

Edify TV: LGBT Participation in the Democratic Primary

March 13, 2020

March 13, 2020

Did you know that nearly 10 percent of Super Tuesday voters identified as LGBT? Learn more in this video made...

E.P.I.C Pride show – March 12, 2020: Trial of Gabriel Fernandez

March 12, 2020

March 12, 2020

E.P.I.C Pride show – March 12, 2020 – Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture.*...

Charlotte Awberry’s rendition of “Shallow” goes viral: E.P.I.C Pride show – March 5, 2020

March 6, 2020

March 6, 2020

Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture.* Charlotte Awberry’s rendition of “Shallow” goes viral.* Charlotte...

Another State Bans LGBTQ Youth Conversion Therapy

March 6, 2020

March 6, 2020

By Staff Writer This week, another state has banned LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. On Monday Governor Ralph Northam signed...

MIKA, Lil Nas X and More at GLAAD Awards

March 6, 2020

March 6, 2020

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced that recording artist and...

Bollywoods first gay romantic comedy banned, RuPaul’s drag race moving to Showtime? The Pride L.A.: E.P.I.C Pride show – March 2, 2020

March 3, 2020

March 3, 2020

Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture.* RuPaul’s drag race moving to Showtime?* Bollywood’s first...

Los Angeles LGBT Center Sets $51K Fundraising Goal For Big 5K Run

March 3, 2020

March 3, 2020

Celebrating its 51st year of helping LGBT people thrive, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has set a goal to raise...