Intersex children are born with any number of chromosomal, gonadal, hormonal, or genital features that cause their bodies to physically manifest some combination of stereotypically male or female biological features.
Not all intersex people are born with intersex genitals, but when they are, doctors will often surgically “correct” them by “reducing a clitoris, creating a vagina, or relocating an already functional urethra so a child can pee standing up,” according to Out.
These surgeries occur before they can consent or develop a gender identity, often scarring them for life and creating medical and identity difficulties later on.
California’s newly introduced Senate Bill 201 wants to end these sorts of procedures.
Out‘s Hans Lindahl writes:
Adult survivors of intersex surgeries have spent decades urging medical leaders to postpone any irreversible interventions until an individual can consent, yet procedures to conform intersex infants’ bodies to social gender norms continue…. The interventions, when performed without individual consent, have been declared human rights violations by most human rights organizations that considered them.”
Lindahl says the lead sponsor of the bill is interACT, the world’s largest coalition of intersex youth advocates including nonbinary and cisgender individuals. Some parent- and doctor-led groups oppose the bill, stating that the surgeries merely affirm a child’s chromosomal makeup.
Intersex people often face discrimination and violence by people who consider them as “unnatural” or “queer” even though intersex identity doesn’t determine a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
How many intersex individuals are there in the world?
While there aren’t any reliable estimates of the world’s intersex population, a 2000 study published in the American Journal of Human Biology estimates they’re 1.7% of the human population — that’s 125,884,605 people (roughly the entire population of Japan).
In 2017, Georgiann Davis, a researcher on intersex issues, told Hornet, “I’m confident that every single person on this planet has met at least one intersex person in their life, and most likely, they’ve met far more than one person,” many people just haven’t realized it.
Other famous intersex people include “fashion model Hanne Gaby Odiele, queercore performance artist Vaginal Cream Davis, Pokémon voice actor Maddie Blaustein, and Dana Zzyym, a non-binary intersex activist who is suing the U.S. State Department for a gender-neutral passport,” according to Hornet.