The British government is reportedly planning to look into the treatment and rights of intersex people.
BuzzFeed first revealed the news, writing that ‘meetings are underway between the government’s equalities office and those involved in the care of intersex people’.
Intersex people are those born with variations in their sex characteristics. This includes variations in chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals.
When the government begins the call to evidence, they will look into various things criticized by advocates.
One of those issues is the controversial matter of surgery on intersex children without their consent or input on how they want to live their lives.
Most variations within intersex people are benign and non-threatening, making the surgery largely cosmetic. It also reinforces the gender binary in society and deems what is ‘acceptable’.
‘Young people must be afforded the basic human right to decide autonomously how they would like their body to feel and function,’ Holly Greenberry from IntersexUK told BuzzFeed News.
‘A child needs to be able to live healthily, happily and safely and not subject to harmful practice, sterilisations, sex assignments and other harmful practices which typically infringe horrendously on the quality of their childhood.’
She added that a doctor ‘guessing’ how a person wants to live their life is ‘barbaric’.
Studies have shown children not subjected to non-consensual intersex surgery grew up without any predicted problems. Last year, three former US Surgeons General released a letter calling for the end of these surgeries.
What can be accomplished?
Ultimately, the call to evidence will, at most, find ways to improve the lives of intersex people within the UK.
Greenberry added another problem intersex people face is stigma and discrimination. Some advocacy groups have also brought attention to the matter of abortions in the cases of detected intersex variations.
‘It’s essential that families are not judged and kids with intersex/Variation of sex characteristic bodies are not labelled, and are treated fairly and respectfully in schools, social environments and by medics,’ Greenberry said.
Some intersex people also struggle to find standardized and respectful medical care.
The call to evidence is believed to begin next year.
A UK government spokesperson from the Equalities Office has clarified to Gay Star News that this will not be a consultation, but a call to evidence.
They added they have not launched the call for evidence yet and have yet to give a timeframe for when they will.