Out gay California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) has pulled his bill which would’ve banned surgeries on intersex children under the age of 12. Such surgeries can permanently alter a person’s genitals to “correct” biological differences before the person has a say about their wishes and gender identity.
The bill would have banned any genitalia modification procedures on kids younger than 12 unless the surgery was needed to stop immediate physical harm. The bill faced pushback from the California Medical Association as well as parents who felt responsible for their children’s medical decisions, Newsweek reported.
“For three years, we’ve worked to advance legislation, and it’s become apparent that we continue to lack the votes to pass a meaningful bill —one that actually protects intersex people — through committee,” Wiener said.
The bill was held up in the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. There, it seemed unlikely to get a vote to proceed to the Senate floor — effectively stalling it for this legislative session.
Nevertheless, Wiener said he would re-introduce the bill in a future session.
“I’m not giving up, and I stand in solidarity with the intersex community in its fight for bodily autonomy, dignity, and choice,” Wiener said.
This past year, Republican lawmakers in several states introduced legislation banning doctors from providing gender affirming medical care to transgender minors. Much of the rhetoric in support of those bills was about surgery on genitalia, which isn’t performed on transgender youth in the U.S.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) went so far as to bellow about “genital mutilation” during Dr. Rachel Levine’s confirmation hearing last year while talking about transgender children.
While conservatives fear-mongered about the young transgender children who they claimed are getting gender affirming surgery, the laws they proposed to ban the non-existent practice systematically carved out exceptions for such surgery to be performed on intersex minors.
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.
“Pausing medically unnecessary genital surgeries until a child is old enough to participate in the decision isn’t a radical idea,” Weiner added. “Rather, it’s about basic human dignity.”
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.