California stalls that would ban some intersex surgery for children

California
An exterior of the California state Capitol in Sacramento is shown on January 5, 2006. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

An exterior of the California state Capitol in Sacramento is shown on January 5, 2006. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

First-of-its-kind California legislation to ban some medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children stalled Monday for the third straight year in the same committee, with the author saying that proposed amendments would have stripped much of its purpose.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, wants to bar certain types of surgeries on children born with intersex characteristics. That’s when their genitalia, chromosomes or reproductive organs don’t fit typical definitions for male or female bodies.

His bill would prohibit surgeries until the child is age 12, which advocates say would give the child time to develop a gender identity. His original proposal would delay procedures until age 6 unless they are deemed medically necessary.

It was opposed by several medical groups, which argued that the bill’s language was so broad that it “would jeopardize medical care for thousands of young patients” and could apply even to common procedures like circumcisions.

Wiener said he could try again next year. But he noted that versions of what he termed a “LGBTQ+ civil rights bill” have now stalled in the Senate business and professions committee three consecutive years.

He rejected proposed amendments by the committee that he said “would likely exclude a large majority of intersex people from the bill’s protections.”

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