Should Parents Decide the Gender of Their Intersex Children?

Intersex pride flag

A news story on Ynet about a sexual reassignment surgery that was performed in Haifa’s Ben Tzion hospital on a two-year-old kid who was born intersex sparked angry responses in the LGBT community in Israel.

The 2-year-old was born intersex (Ambigious Genitalia), which means he/she was born with both female and male genitalia. In this situation the gender of the baby is not assigned. This week, the baby was sent home after the doctors (with the permission of the baby’s parents) decided to remove the male genitalia and leave the baby only with female genitalia.

“This surgery is totally unacceptable,” wrote Elisha Alexander, director of the organization Ma’avarim, which helps the transgender community in Israel. “In recent years it’s more common to let the child grow and decide who he/she is. Maybe she will grow up to be a woman, but if the doctors performed the surgery on a boy, the amputation was for nothing!”

“Lately, more and more western countries forbid the performance of this surgery on babies and kids without their permission,” continued Alexander. “It’s a scandal that transgender people, who know who they are, have to go through a committee and investigations to make sure that their situation is real, but a two-year-old baby, helpless, who can’t speak and tell his parents who he really is, has to go through this surgery without the ability to even oppose  it.”

“When will people learn that intersex is part of the norm and not a ‘phenomenon’?? It’s said that the parents force gender on their child,” said Maayan, in one of the comments.

According to the Ynet article, written by Dr. Itay Gal, babies who are born intersex in Israel are going through gender reassignment surgery as early as possible in order to allow them a normal development and to prevent stigmas and damage to the mental development of the baby.

According to the article, one in every 2000 babies is born intersex, and an estimated 2% of all society are intersex.

Suzan, an Israeli Intersex activist, has launched a Facebook page ‘Rights of Intersex in Israel’ and is working to bring awareness to the issue on the Internet and beyond. Today (Thursday) Tel Aviv’s Cinematheque is premiering a documentary on Suzan’s life, called “Third Person.”

About the Author
Yanir Dekel has a decade of experience in entertainment, journalism, and digital media in Israel and the U.S. He headed PR for Helicon Records - one of the top two Record Labels in Israel - for several years before moving to LA in April of 2009. Yanir now works as an "Online Outreach" and content administration freelancer, managing content and social media, as well as providing graphics for online and print.
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