Intersex children face damaging surgery without consent

Intersex Babies and How German Doctors Still Act Too Quick

By Stephen Fuchs on

Amnesty International came out with a telling report earlier this month that looked at the mishandling of intersex babies and their gender surgery, often ignoring scientific research that could prevent irreversible damage both physically and mentally.

This has undoubtedly been a topic of heated discussion, but with United Nations experts condemning the sexual assignment surgeries in babies, the number of procedures still being done in Germany and Denmark are concerning.

the same percentage of those born with red hair

Estimates put the number of babies born ‘intersex’ at around 1.5% of the world’s population, which is around the same percentage of those born with red hair, and while little is known about long-term effects of those who do not undergo surgery, statistics on those who do are alarming.

A German physician told Amnesty International that in her treatment of older intersex patients that did not have surgery, “no-one has said that they were angry that they did not receive surgery. Some people who did not have surgery noted that peeing was different from other boys… but it was not a big problem”.

“no-one has said that they were angry that they did not receive surgery”

Parents often do not know how to properly handle the news that their child’s gender doesn’t conform to societal norms, and most of these parents put their trust in the doctors to do what is medically ‘right’. Many of these surgical procedures happen shortly after birth, but some kids have the gender assignment surgeries done without their will as old as ten or eleven.

What Amnesty International found when looking into these cases was long-lasting psychological issues, isolation and financial difficulties. Turning to the government or even the courts is a long road of disappointments for these individuals. Still, some choose to fight their case in an effort to protect others from unwillingly heading down the long and lonely road, and while they can’t fully reverse the harm done to their own body, making a change in the way doctors jump to surgical correction in places like Denmark and Germany is a solid place to start.

Sources: Amnesty International

Photo: sussexcareers