As a French parliamentary commission considers the reform of bioethics legislation, the government has been asked to put an end to the practice of surgically assigning gender to intersex babies. The proposed bioethics law deals with such issues as making Medically Assisted Reproduction available to lesbian couples, as well as refining clauses on filiation and the anonymity of gamete donors.
During the first day of deliberations, Laurène Chesnel, a member of the Inter-LGBT association, addressed a topic that is not even included in the legislation. She asked the government to “put an end to the mutilations performed on intersex infants”.
Laurène Chesnel’s comment triggered a strong reaction from geneticist Philippe Berta, a member of the commission and of President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM ruling party. Talking about the controversial surgery, he said: “if these decisions are not taken, the child’s growth and their future will be extremely complex. This choice is not made randomly, but based on biological and genetic markers,” he said.
A growing issue
For Loé Petit, spokesperson for the French Intersex and Allies Association, gender assigning surgery can have lasting physical and psychological consequences. The association hopes the new bioethics law will forbid surgery on intersex children, except in cases where the child’s health is endangered.