Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights advocacy group, this week called for a ban on intersex surgery, claiming it subjected intersex children to “irreversible physical and psychological harm”.
The group has produced a report (in conjunction with the intersex activist group InterACT) that assails the practice of intersex surgery and calls on Congress to ban it. The report states that “the results [of intersex surgery] are often catastrophic, the supposed benefits are largely unproven, and there are generally no urgent health considerations at stake”.
The authors of the report challenge traditional binary definitions of a person’s sex, arguing that “sex, in reality, is a spectrum—with the majority of humans appearing to exist at one end or the other. In fact, as many as 1.7 percent of babies are different from what is typically called a boy or a girl.”
Intersex surgery has been practiced in the US since the 1960s, but has been subjected to increasingly vocal criticism in recent years. High profile doctors have condemned the practice, and the American Medical Association is considering a proposal to discourage it.
In 2015 Malta became the first country in the world to outlaw the practice.
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