State health officials in New York are required to create an outreach program to inform physicians and parents about the negative effects of medically unjustified therapies given to young intersex children.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed the bill into law on Wednesday. Its goal is to raise awareness of individuals who are born with genitalia, chromosomes, or reproductive systems that don’t conform to conventional ideas of what it means to be male or female. In 2021, the New York City Council put a similar policy into effect.
Proponents of the statewide legislation assert that there are numerous possible adverse effects of medically unnecessary procedures performed on infants and young children born intersex, which parents and medical professionals should be aware of.
State Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright stated in a statement, “This education will be key to helping parents understand that surgery is permanent and can cause irreversible physical and psychological effects.”
In the past, a number of health and human rights organizations have demanded a halt to the medical treatments, including Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in the United States that fights for human rights violations worldwide.
In a 2017 report, Physicians for Human Rights called the surgeries performed on intersex babies “cruel” and “inhuman,” claiming that the procedures could lead to diminished sexual function and sterilization. They stated that the operations ought to be performed only once a child reaches the legal age of consent for bodily modifications.
According to The Associated Press, most advocacy groups calculate that there are roughly 5.6 million intersex people in the United States. This estimate is based on an assessment of forty years’ worth of medical literature, from 1955 to 1998, that was published in the American Journal of Human Biology.
According to the law, intersex individuals and medical experts with experience treating intersex patients must be on an advisory council that would assist in creating New York’s public outreach program.
A bill that would have prohibited some medically unnecessary procedures on intersex children until they were old enough to participate in the decision-making process was rejected by the majority of state lawmakers in California in 2020.
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