World Health Organization condemns forced sterilization of trans and intersex people

The World Health Organization and half a dozen United Nations groups have condemned the forced sterilization of transgender people and intersex people in order to make them conform with the gender binary

World Health Organization condemns forced sterilization of trans and intersex people
02 June 2014

The World Health Organization (WHO) has joined forces with UN Women, UN AIDS, UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Development Programme and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to condemn the forced sterilization of transgender and intersex people in a groundbreaking report.

The report, ‘Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization – An interagency statement,’ is the strongest statement in support of the rights of transgender and intersex people to be recognized as the gender they identify with without having to undergo invasive surgical procedures at a global level and was released on 30 May.

The report notes that voluntary sterilization is an important form of contraception in many parts of the world but condemns interventions against a person’s will or where people are coerced into sterilization to meet government guidelines.

‘Sterilization is an important option for individuals and couples to control their fertility,’ the report reads, ‘Sterilization is one of the most widely used forms of contraception in the world.’

‘ When performed according to appropriate clinical standards with informed consent, sterilization methods such as vasectomy and tubal ligation are safe and effective means of permanently controlling fertility.

‘However, in some countries, people belonging to certain population groups, including people living with HIV, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, and transgender and intersex persons, continue to be sterilized without their full, free and informed consent.

‘Sterilization without full, free and informed consent has been variously described by international, regional and national human rights bodies as an involuntary, coercive and/or forced practice, and as a violation of fundamental human rights, including the right to health, the right to information, the right to privacy, the right to decide on the number and spacing of children, the right to found a family and the right to be free from discrimination.

‘Human rights bodies have also recognized that forced sterilization is a violation of the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

‘International human rights bodies and professional organizations have explicitly condemned coercive population policies and programmes, noting that decisions about sterilization should not be subject to arbitrary requirements imposed by the government and that states’ obligations to protect persons from such treatment extend into the private sphere, including where such practices are committed by private individuals, such as health-care professionals.

‘Any form of involuntary, coercive or forced sterilization violates ethical principles, including respect for autonomy and physical integrity, beneficence and non-maleficence.’

It has been standard procedure in many countries for intersex infants (those born with characteristics that make their sex indeterminate) to be subjected to ‘corrective’ surgery to assign them a male or female gender after birth while many countries also force transgender people to undergo gender affirming surgery before they can be legally recognized as the gender they identify with.

Many intersex people who have been subjected to such surgical interventions have found in puberty that they have been assigned a gender that they do not feel is correct for them.

‘Some groups, such as transgender and intersex persons, also have a long history of discrimination and abuse related to sterilization, which continues to this day,’ the report notes.

‘Such violations are reflected, for example, in the various legal and medical requirements, including for sterilization, to which transgender and intersex persons have been subjected in order to obtain birth certificates and other legal documents that match their preferred gender.

‘Intersex persons, in particular, have been subjected to cosmetic and other non- medically necessary surgery in infancy, leading to sterility, without informed consent of either the person in question or their parents or guardians. Such practices have also been recognized as human rights violations by international human rights bodies and national courts.’

This is the strongest statement to date by the WHO who still classify transgender people as suffering from ‘Gender Dysphoria / Gender Identity Disorders.’

New WHO guidelines are due to be released in 2015 and transgender rights activists around the world are hoping the organization will adopt non-pathologizing language when they are released.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

‘WANT AIDS?’ poster victim refusing to press charges against attackers

Kristopher Sharp said he will not seek legal action against his attackers who printed his HIV status on flyers and posted them around school
No thumbnail available

Man arrested in beating death of trans woman in Southern California

Melony Smith was found dead in motel room where she lived
No thumbnail available

Putin’s new law may be used against gay marches

A new law in Russia fining people for ‘unsanctioned rallies’ could also be used to crack down on gay prides, says Amnesty
No thumbnail available

London Egg Bank: Empowering a new generation of egg donors

How the London Egg Bank can help you to achieve your dreams of having a baby – thanks to a change in UK legislation and an increase in egg donors
No thumbnail available

Penny Dreadful's Reeve Carney on his gay kiss: 'You could certainly do a lot worse than Josh Hartnett'

'It's probably all downhill for me in terms of any man-on-man action I might have on the show'
No thumbnail available

Boys Scouts of America upholds its ban on gays

'This breaks my heart,' says Eric Jones, the 19-year-old Eagle Scout kicked out this week
No thumbnail available

Lily Tomlin helps Los Angeles LGBT Center kick off $25 million fundraising campaign

Center will more than double number of beds for homeless LGBT youth and build 100 units of affordable housing for low-income seniors and young adults
No thumbnail available

German gay football kiss ad goes viral

Gay German anti-violence activists Maneo 2006, soccer themed, campaign poster goes viral in the midst of Euro 2012
No thumbnail available

Ian McKellen shows his solidarity with Russia’s gay people

Established actor joins celebrities like Lady Gaga making a stand against the actions of the Russian government and the new anti-gay laws
No thumbnail available

Mother of bisexual asylum seeker will sue Britain if they send her son home to die

British boyfriend: 'When people complain about immigration, this is not someone you need to worry about'