Thursday, May 30, 2013

Australia Closer to Passing First-Ever, Intersex-Inclusive Anti-Discrimination Bill!

This is fantastic! With the work of affiliates from OII-Australia, the first-ever intersex-inclusive anti-discrimination bill has passed the House of Representatives/Parliament. Now the bill needs to pass in the Australian Senate.

This bill, which we discussed previously on FFA:IAA will make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status illegal. Most of us are familiar with legislation protecting individuals for sexual orientation and gender identity, but this is the first time intersex status is explicitly included in anti-discrimination law.

You can keep track of the bill's progress here!

Congratulations, Australia, and continued success! Hopefully, this bill will be on the books soon!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Miss USA 2013 Contestant Is Openly MRKH!

Openly MRKH Miss USA 2013 contestant, Jaclyn Shultz of Michigan, states the following in her Miss USA profile: "Jaclyn is the proud spokeswoman for “A Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.” Since she was born without a uterus, this non-profit is close to her heart."

It is so awesome to see someone competing in a mainstream event being open about her body's less-typical anatomy. Yay for acceptance and awareness!

Wishing you the best of luck in the competition, Schultz!

Thanks to Hida Viloria for the heads-up on this! :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Kenyan Lawsuit Filed Over Intersex Legal Recognition and Protection from Cosmetic "Treatment"

Kenya's second-ever lawsuit concerning intersex issues has been filed. An intersex individual referred to as Baby A is suing Kenyan authorities for 1) legal recognition of intersex individuals, and 2) the right of intersex children to not have cosmetic, "corrective" surgery unless it is court-ordered.

Because Baby A is intersex, this individual doesn't have one of the most basic forms of legal recognition: a birth certificate. At the Kenya National Hospital where Baby A was born, records denote the child's sex with a question mark, instead of an M or an F. As a result of authorities not recording M or F, a birth certificate was never created for Baby A.

Baby A's lawyer, John Chigli notes the damage of never being issued a birth certificate: “The birth certificate is of great legal importance to the life and development of a child given that it is ticket to school admission, issuance of passport, national identity card and employment."

Baby A will be legally denied these opportunities until KNH hospital administrators issue A a birth certificate.

The lawsuit is also seeking to prevent "corrective" surgeries on intersex children unless it is court-ordered. The wording of this portion of the lawsuit is worrisome, in that not all non-consensual "treatments" for intersex children are surgical. Some procedures, like vaginal dilation, are not surgical, but are still cosmetic in nature, and can serve to physically and psychoemotionally harm children that undergo them. I also hope that the lawsuit denotes that corrective surgeries do not just include altering the external genitals, but also the removal of internal sex organs. I think that intersex surgery is still largely equated with external genitals only in popular understanding, but protections against removal of internal sex organs should not be done without the intersex persons's consent, either.

Finally, I am wondering about the phrase "unless it is court-ordered." It seems like this could be a convenient legal loophole, where it could become common practice to just court-order surgery/"treatment" for every intersex person born in Kenya, or actually create new legislation making it legal to perform these treatments, and side-stepping the need to court-order treatment for each individual case. By what standards would one determine whether surgery/"treatment" should be court-ordered? What cases should be court-ordered, and which shouldn't?

I think that more legislation fighting for intersex rights and protection is necessary. I would encourage those filing this lawsuit, however, to consider whether allowing for the possibility of governing bodies to court-order intersex surgery will really be solving the problem, or simply creating more legislation and legal ways to actively change the bodies of intersex individuals without our consent.

I don't want a court system to have any say in what is done to my body. I applaud Baby A's efforts in filing a lawsuit, but hope that in court, what is fought for is intersex individuals' right alone in deciding which of our own body parts we are allowed to keep, and not other authorities who can legally court-order our body parts away without our consent.

We deserve better than that.

Thanks to Georgiann Davis for alerting me to this case!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Intersex Activists Speak Out In Support of M.C. Crawford

Hi, everyone! It's been a few days since new first broke that eight-year old M.C. Crawford's family is suing various South Carolina institutions for performing cosmetic, medically unnecessary genital surgery on M.C. when he was just 16 months old.

More intersex activists have become aware of this case, and are speaking out against the surgeries performed on M.C. without his consent, and in support of the Crawford family.

Check out this article by OII (Organization Intersex International), which nicely synthesizes what intersex activists are saying and doing with regards to this case.

There will certainly be more to come. We will keep you updated!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Parents Sue South Carolina Institutions for Subjecting Intersex Child to Non-Medically Necessary Surgery

This is historic.

This is hugggggggge.

I've written about this case and its impacts on intersex activism over here at Autostraddle.