Two key medical associations should publicly affirm their support to end medically unnecessary surgery on intersex children, Human Rights Watch and interACT said today. The groups sent letters to the medical associations, the Pediatric Endocrine Society and the Societies for Pediatric Urology, urging them to use their upcoming international medical conferences to publicly state this position.
Since the 1960s, doctors in the United States and around the world have routinely performed surgery on intersex infants and children – born with chromosomes, gonads, or genitalia that do not correspond to traditional notions of “male” or “female” – to assign them a sex. These surgeries are medically unnecessary, irreversible, often traumatizing, and carry a risk of lifelong harm.
“Endocrinologists and urologists are critical to intersex health care, and their support for an end to unnecessary and high-risk surgery on children too young to consent is crucial,” said Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of interACT. “Despite decades of patient advocates calling for an end to these harmful procedures, some doctors continue to present these surgeries to parents as good options.”
The Council of Europe’s Committee on Bioethics in 2017 wrote that, “The treatment protocols that emerged from the US-based recommendations were not based on any clinical trials or careful research,” and “repeated systematic reviews of evidence have found no quality data confirming their safety and benefits for each affected child.”
However as Human Rights Watch and interACT documented in a recent report, despite decades of controversy over the procedures, US doctors continue to operate on children’s gonads, internal sex organs, and genitals when the children are too young to participate in the decision. Read more via HRW