Intersex Children: Who Are We Really Treating?

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Abstract

Surgery to align an infant child’s genitals to a medically assigned sex is controversial because it is irreversible and therefore may potentially be detrimental to the child as they develop into a gender identity. I argue that the significant issue for genital-normalising surgery is decision-making and that English law does not promote or protect the best interests of the intersex child or the inherent human rights that are protected by both domestic and international law. In acknowledgment of this legal and professional standards deficit I will propose a shared-decision-making approach to support the welfare of the child, which at its core, places the child as the primary decision-maker. Using a doctrinal and socio-legal methodology with analysis of bioethical argument, I argue that the interpretation of the best interests of infant intersex children is manipulated to support the lack of social, legal and medical acceptance of intersex as an ‘abnormality’ that must be corrected, in order to conform to the accepted normality of binary male and female sex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-36
JournalMedical Law International
Early online date12 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Intersex
  • children
  • genital surgery
  • decision-making
  • birth registration
  • children’s rights
  • human rights

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