Proposed legislation would end unnecessary surgeries on intersex infants

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, announced today that he has introduced a resolution that, if passed, would require California's medical community to discontinue sex assignment and normalization procedures on intersex infants.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 110 seeks to end nonconsensual, and potentially harmful, sex assignment and genital "normalization" surgeries on babies born intersex, and instead allow them to make their own decision about possible surgeries when they are older.

According to Wiener, about one in 2,000 people are born intersex, meaning that their genitals do not appear typically male or female. Some can be born with other intersex features that can go unnoticed, such as internal testicles.

Some intersex infants do require immediate medical attention, such as when they lack the ability to urinate, but Wiener says the vast majority of these individuals are born healthy and able to live fulfilling lives without modification of their genitals.

Wiener says that in the 1950s, physicians in the U.S. started performing irreversible surgeries on intersex infants without medical justification in an attempt to surgically and hormonally force them to 
conform to what they perceived to be typical male and female bodies.

Many of these procedures continue to this day, according to Wiener.

"Infants who are born healthy should not be forced into a medically unnecessary surgery, and our medical community needs to help families to take a more measured approach to surgery," Wiener said in a statement.

"Over time, as a child grows and they make their own choices, then that is the appropriate time to discuss medical options," he said.