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Intersex Advocates Say Society Needs To Change, Not Them

Chion Wolf
Connecticut Public Radio
Bonnie Scranton's adult daughter was diagnosed with an intersex condition when she was a teenager. The family decided against having her internal testes removed.

When it comes to sexual anatomy, not everyone is born with bodies that fit typical definitions of male or female. Like with other human traits, internal and external gentalia can come in different varieties. 

Today, we talk with members of the intersex community seeking to pass laws in Connecticut and elsewhere to protect them from discrimination and to stop doctors from performing "normalizing" surgeries on intersex children until they are old enough to give their consent.

Many urologists and medical groups are urging against such a ban. What's "medically necessary" when it comes to such surgeries is complicated and needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis, they maintain.

But there are stories of intersex children never being told the real reason why they underwent surgery and only finding out later as adults. In some cases, even their parents didn't know.


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American Pyschological Association - Answers to Your Questions About Individuals With Intersex Conditions - "Sometimes surgery is necessary to correct conditions that may be harmful to the baby's health, but usually it is not medically necessary to perform surgery immediately to make the baby's genitals appear more recognizably male or female."

The New Republic - For Intersex Activists, There is Beauty in Difference - "The second half of the 20th century is littered with stories of children having surgery done to them just so their bodies conform with expectations of what female and male genitals ought to look like."

Human Rights Watch - Medically Unnecessary Operations Risk Lifelong Suffering - "Surgery to remove gonads can amount to sterilization without the patient's consent, and then require lifelong hormone replacement therapy."

Lydia Brown, Chion Wolf, and Carmen Baskauf contributed to this show.

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