CA Could Become 1st State to Ban Cosmetic Genital Surgery on Intersex Children

Filmmaker River Gallo supports a bill that would ban cosmetic surgeries on people with atypical genitals until the person is old enough to consent. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Filmmaker River Gallo supports a bill that would ban cosmetic surgeries on people with atypical genitals until the person is old enough to consent. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

River Gallo has prosthetic testes he says he never asked for and never wanted. Alice Alvarez says she should have been able to decide for herself before a doctor removed her testicles, which one did when she was an infant.

Both are part of a group supporting a bill in the California Legislature that would ban cosmetic surgeries on children born with atypical genitals until they’re old enough to consent. California would be the first state to enact such a ban.

The legislation has made public an emotional debate that has been simmering for decades in the intersex community. Advocacy groups for intersex people — individuals with varying differences in their reproductive or sexual anatomy — have been fighting to postpone medically unnecessary surgeries that they say do more harm than good.

Surgeries in extreme cases in which the gender of the child is unclear can result in female genitalia being constructed on someone who later identifies as male or vice versa. More common are procedures on deformities, such as an off-center urethra, or reducing an enlarged clitoris. Supporters of the bill say that because the surgeries carry risks, such as a loss of sexual sensation or function, they should be delayed until the patient can consent. The legislation, Senate Bill 201 by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), does not apply to genital surgeries that are medically necessary.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

 

 

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