Whether to operate on an intersexed [sic] child is not a simple clinical decision, an international conference on genital cutting was told this morning.
Paul Mason, Commissioner for Children for the Australian island state of Tasmania, said the decision was not one to be taken by doctors, nor by frightened parents following clinical advice, nor the dictates of culture or religion. He told the 11th International Symposium on Genital Integrity that children are children first and girls and boys second.
“If genital surgery on an intersex child is not necessary to preserve the child’s life, or to treat or prevent a likely and serious illness, the decision whether and how to operate can be put off until the child is old enough to express an informed view about the options, and in a forum that addresses any conflicts of interest,” he said. “That age depends on the intervention and the risks.”
In 2005 the San Francisco Human Rights Commission called for an end to medically unnecessary interventions on intersex children—those born with genitals not typically male or female. About one child in 100 has some degree of intersexuality [sic].
Paul Mason is responsible for advising the Tasmanian government about all matters concerning the health, welfare, development and education of children and their protection from all forms of abuse and neglect.