Yesterday, Monday, May 21st, as reported in the SF Weekly:
The California Senate approved a resolution 23-12 that calls on medical professionals to delay unnecessary surgery on intersex infants until they reach an age where they’re able to understand the ramifications and give their consent. The bill will now proceed to the Assembly for their review.
We note that the surgeries the resolution urges doctors to delay are performed for completely cosmetic, rather than medically necessary, reasons. These surgeries are the ones which intersex activists such as our E.D. have been speaking out against since the 1990’s. They are often referred to as Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM) due to their similarities with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)–are routinely recommended and performed in an effort to erase intersex status by making intersex babies’ bodies more male or female in appearance.
The resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 110 (SCR 110), was drafted by California State Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), who co-authored the state’s first landmark legislation regarding intersex citizens, Senate Bill 179 (SB 179), in 2017 with Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). As reported here last year, SB 179, the Gender Recognition Act, allows intersex and non-binary citizens who wish to be legally recognized as neither male nor female to do so on their driver’s licenses and birth certificates. It was introduced by Atkins and Weiner on January 24, 2017, passed by a vote of 26-12 in the Senate and 57-21 in the Assembly, and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 15, 2017.
While working on SB 179 and learning why it was necessary, Weiner met with intersex activists such as Sara Kelly Keenan, California’s first legally non-binary citizen, whom informed him of the surgical practices intersex infants are subjected to in order to erase intersex traits, and thus people, from society. In the months which followed, he continued to meet with and learn from a growing number of his intersex constituents.
This week, Weiner had this to say about SCR 110, which is co-sponsored by Equality Caiifornia and our colleagues at InterACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth:
“This resolution recognizes that California’s intersex community is a part of our state’s diversity and should be embraced,” Wiener said in a statement. “Physicians should not immediately seek to ‘correct’ how people are born through irreversible surgeries unless they are medically necessary. These surgeries can have significant negative impacts on people’s lives, particularly if the gender chosen by the physician and parents is different from the child’s ultimate gender identity. As a result, these surgeries should be performed only with informed consent by the person whose life will be permanently impacted. A baby cannot provide that consent.”
If passed, SCR 110 will not legally ban doctors from performing sex re-assignment surgeries on intersex infants, but simply call on them to delay medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex infants until the children themselves are old enough to weigh in and provide consent. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful step in recognizing the need to stop performing these surgeries on infants and toddlers, and we commend Senator Weiner for doing so!