The Push to Ban Intersex Medical Intervention

Lane Palmer


Urol Nurs. 2019;39(3):147-149. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Recent proposed changes to legislation create a risk that children and adults who have been traditionally classified as "intersex" may begin to see more barriers to obtaining medical and surgical treatment. This will also create barriers to medical professionals, creating a more holistic understanding of intersexuality.


On very rare occasions, infants are born with genitalia that do not fit the standard definition of male or female. These variations may involve genital ambiguity, aberrations in chromosomal genotype, hormonal issues, or deviations in sexual phenotype. Individuals who fall within this wide spectrum of conditions are generally referred to as being "intersex." In some cases, despite differences from the norm, the actual physiology of the infant is medically healthy. In others, the particulars of the infant's anatomy present threats to the child's health, sometimes in an immediate and life-threatening manner. In such cases, many infants will undergo surgery to repair serious functional defects or to alter their anatomy in such a way as to set it in conformance with the baby's chromosomal sex.

These decisions are agonizing, personal affairs. Parents find themselves overwhelmed, inundated with a field of new information they never expected to encounter, and tasked with a decision they never expected to make. It would be unconscionable to place the entire burden on the parents, when they do not have the knowledge or training to make fully informed choices. Medically, it is the job of pediatric urologists to care for these children, and they generally do so with the sincerest concern for the infant at the center of all decisions. Few professionals go into such a field without harboring a genuine interest in their patients' well-being, and even fewer could steel their hearts against the anguish that accompanies a new parent having to confront such a decision.