Indian State Bans Unnecessary Surgery for Intersex Children

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08/29/2019

India’s Tamil Nadu state government has issued an executive order banning medically unnecessary surgeries on children born with intersex variations. The order comes in response to an April court judgment prohibiting “normalizing” surgeries until the patient is old enough to consent. Genital surgeries are banned except in life-threatening situations and warns against surgeons deliberately misinterpreting that clause to continue performing medically unnecessary operations. A committee will be set-up to define this threshold. Since the 1960s, surgeons in the United States popularized “normalizing” cosmetic operations on intersex children, such as procedures to reduce the size of the clitoris. Such surgeries have since become common, globally. For decades, intersex advocates around the world have asked governments and the medical community to develop standards to defer surgical procedures until the patient can consent, but medical organizations have largely been unwilling to engage on the issue.  Various United Nations human rights treaty bodies have condemned the operations 40 times since 2011.

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