As announced August 28th on twitter by Senator Scott Wiener earlier this week, California has become the first state in the U.S to pass legislation in support of intersex people’s right to bodily autonomy!
Our resolution (#SCR110) urging the medical profession to delay medically unnecessary genital surgeries on #intersex babies has now fully passed the CA Legislature. This is the first time a state has gone on record supporting the intersex community & opposing these surgeries. pic.twitter.com/58ZJNpGske
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) August 28, 2018
As reported here in May, SCR-110 was introduced by Wiener and co-sponsored by Equality Caiifornia and our colleagues at InterACT. To be clear, the legislation is not a ban on unnecessary surgeries on intersex babies and minors: it is a message to all doctors practicing in California that the state legislature discourages them from continuing the practice, also known as Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM).
The legislation urges doctors to allow intersex individuals to make our own decisions about our bodies’ sex traits. This is what the intersex community has always wanted. Note, for example, the, “Keep Your Scalpels Off Intersex Kids,” sign in this circa 1996 photo of the first known intersex protest, at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Intersex people have been demanding an end to IGM since we first formed communities in the U.S. in the mid-1990’s, and even earlier in England and Australia. This was quite a lofty goal back then given the strong, longstanding, and successful efforts by the Christian Church, the American medical institution, and many others to obscure our very existence.
In the nineties and early part of the 21st century, pioneers such as Bo Laurent (a.k.a Cheryl Chase), Dr. Tiger Devore, and our very own founding director Hida Viloria became among the first in the world to come out publicly as intersex, appearing on popular television programs such as <Dateline, 20/20, Inside Edition, and Montel to inform the world that intersex people exist and should not be subjected to IGM. Over the years more and more intersex people joined the fight for intersex bodily autonomy.
In the last two years the movement seems to have grown exponentially, and with that, our impact. We thank and commend all these brave individuals. Your work and the years of increased intersex visibility, activism and education have made this moment possible!
In particular, we thank the folks who worked on SCR 110: Senator Wiener, the folks at InterACT and Equality California, and all intersex Californians who provided testimony in support of SCR 110. We look forward to more states following California’s lead, and to more and more doctors and parents realizing that supporting intersex kids’ right to bodily autonomy is the way to go!