Campaigners and activists hope the newly proposed bill will tighten legislation and law around the medical procedures.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, a member of the California State Senate, is campaigning to ban some medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children until they are at least six years-old.
Wiener, who identifies as gay, introduced the Senate Bill 225 which would pushback the operations until the child is of an older age. Speaking in favour of the bill, the Democrat stated he wanted to ensure that intersex bodies are not “made for them and without their input.”
He added: “This legislation gives children and their families more time to research and opt in or out of non-emergency surgeries to irreversibly change a child’s sex characteristics.
“We must provide people the ability to make important healthcare decisions for themselves — especially when healthcare decisions are associated with a person’s gender assignment, and can result in long-term pain, PTSD, depression, and a loss of sexual sensation,” the senator outlined.
According to Alternative Press, advocates and activists have said many of these operations are irreversible and are often not necessary.
However, laws such as the one proposed by Wiener have been criticised by doctors who have argued that government should not play a role in whether a person or child should have a specific type of surgery.
Anthony York, a spokesman for the California Medical Association, said the California group is still reviewing the bill as doctors are concerned the bill would “legislate the practice of medicine”.
Despite this, there are hopes that Rep. Wiener and activists will be able to find a common ground that will address “both their concerns and ours.”
“We understand how sensitive and emotionally charged this issue is,” York said. “We’re optimistic we can have a constructive dialogue with the author and proponents this year.”
According to InterACT, a national advocacy group which stands for Advocates for Intersex Youth, Equality California, and the American Civil Liberties Union of California, say there is no regulation across state or federal laws when it comes to intersex surgeries in the U.S.
As a part of acknowledging the lack of legislation around the procedure, a nonbinding resolution was passed in 2018 which urged doctors to reconsider the medical surgeries and withhold them “until the child is able to participate in decision making.”
Executive director of interACT, Kimberly Zieselman, is hopeful of seeking reform around intersex surgeries. “Building on 15 years of advocacy work by interACT, we saw two premier children’s hospitals finally commit to stopping infant clitoral and vaginal surgeries in 2020.
“If this bill was passed, it would be significant in setting a precedent across the country,” the executive added.
The future of the bill remains uncertain but Rep. Wiener is keeping positive about the Bill introduction. Previous versions of the legislation were pushed last year, but failed to make any real traction.
As Democratic majorities to be found across both Houses and with a Democratic administration, Wiener is hopeful that change to what he calls “an important civil rights bill.”
California's #SB225 launches TODAY! 🚀
We must give people born with variations in their genitalia a chance to participate in decisions about their own bodies—re: major surgeries to cut a clitoris, create a vagina for penetrative sex, & others.
— interACT (@interACT_adv) January 15, 2021