Lazy Sunday Afternoon*

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Idly musing on a sunny Sunday afternoon about the current positions shared by clinicians working within intersex medicine, and advocates striving to change those parameters

Clinicians – we will talk to you – these are our terms: current clinical protocols.

Advocates – we will talk to you – these are our terms: change the current protocols.

As Noam Chomsky so clearly observed in another arena

 “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”

That clearly applies to how intersex clinicians would prefer the terms on which they met and conversed with intersex advocates.

Those days have passed.

Human rights are indivisible, and being intersex is absolutely no reason to deny someone their rights. The failure to engage honestly and acknowledge the profound breaches of intersex individual’s human rights is an issue that is gaining far great visibility worldwide.

It is unconscionable that intersex human rights abuses continue well into the 21st century, and remain so firmly entrenched in medical protocols.  The protocols are documents out of time, no matter how much genetic information is used to smother the underlying motives.  The fact remains that clinicians impose extremely narrow values of sex and gender on infants born intersex, and as the BMJ editorial admitted, still continue to misassign infants as female because the protocols say so.

It also needs to be said that the currently accepted protocols are deeply homophobic.  A point the BMJ editorial also obliquely acknowledged.

The publication of a BMJ editorial about intersex clinical interventions goes some way to acknowledging that reality. It is a beginning. It would be wholly unacceptable that the opportunity was lost in the welter of counter statements claiming ever greater improvements. That narrative has been on constant replay for decades, and has done nothing to address the issues at hand. The adoption of the highly controversial D$D nomenclature – Disorders of Sex Development in the 2005 Consensus Statement – a consensus only amongst the clinicians present on the day – remains wholly unacceptable to OII-UK.

It is long overdue that people born intersex were given legal protection, and the rights to decide for themselves when (or if) they engage with clinicians.

Malta showed that it is possible.

It is no longer possible to say this cannot be done.  The question is now why is this not being done, and what exactly is stopping that?

Failure to offer people born intersex legal protections,  in the face of mounting evidence of  admitted failures that doctors acknowledge and write about in their peer reviewed papers will only lead to one place.

The courts. Human rights abuses have no statute of limitations, despite what clinicians may claim when they talk about interventions being in an intersex person’s best interests.

Try telling MC that, in the USA.

The BMJ editorial clearly accepts that intersex infants are *still* being misassigned as female because the protocols decree it.

Clinicians have created a monstrous leviathan in the protocols they apply to anyone born intersex. It is medical hegemony made real, and it does irreparable harm to almost every intersex person that falls within it’s grasp.  Interventions on intersex infants and young children are out of control.  It is long overdue these protocols were called to account, and clinical authority more properly engaged in educating society and parents of the known spectrum of variation in human development, and engaging with affected intersex individuals for *their* benefit, rather than the benefit of clinician’s reputations and the continued enforcement of artificial boundaries that describe the binary description of men and women.

OII-UK urges government agencies and medical authority to engage with intersex representatives to discuss the very real human rights abuses that current intersex medical protocols inflict on individuals born intersex, and how best to navigate a path to find a way to include the rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity that people born intersex have been so long denied, but are entitled to in their life decisions.

*The Small Faces