We were struck by the blatant spin contained in a recent report published in the Medical Journal of Australia and an accompanying press release on the AMA website. It uses a case of cancer associated with late diagnosis as a justification for gonadectomy (rather than monitoring) in cases of early diagnosis.
We are trying to find out the AMA’s position on non-consensual surgery on intersex infants. We are aware that some of their members remain very enthusiastic about carrying it out, despite many intersex people calling for it to be banned except in those very rare cases where it is required in order to save lives, such as cloacal exstrophy.
OII Australia rejects the term DSD – Disorders of Sex Development – as pathologising and stigmatising. We call for the cessation of non-consensual surgery on intersex infants.
The case cited is hardly justification of any kind for non-consensual surgery on intersex infants. Instead, the case is excellent proof of the need for patient-centred medical care for intersex people, as is the quote at the end of this post from the AMA’s position statement, Sexual Diversity and Gender Identity – 2002.
This patient would have been far better served by having surgery at the age of majority, after having all the facts explained.
4.5 Intersex people
4.5.1 There is little published research on the Intersex population in Australia however anecdotal research indicates that experiences or expectations of discriminatory treatment may lead to decreased accessing of healthcare facilities. This has flow on effects for untreated mental and physical health problems.