Since the May 14th, launch of our landmark lawsuit in partnership with M.C. and his family, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Steptoe & Johnson LLP, the case has been covered in nearly 100 news outlets! Most of the coverage has been overwhelming supportive and respective, marking historic strides in public awareness of intersex human and civil rights issues. To stand with M.C. and intersex people of all ages, Sign On To Support M.C.! We’re trying to collect 1,500 signatures and we need your help to make it happen. If you haven’t read these powerful articles already, check out coverage in the progressive mainstay, The Huffington Post & leading bioethicist Alice Dreger’s superb coverage in The Atlantic. Above, watch Pam and Mark Crawford, M.C.’s parents, discuss the case in their own words. They also spoke with compassion and commitment for winning justice for M.C. at Tuesday’s press conference along with AIC’s Executive Director Anne Tamar-Mattis and Sean Saifa Wall, Board of Directors Co-President (below).
Sometimes we are obligated to work for change simply because we can. My partner of 18 years is an intersex activist, and I have long been an involved ally. The intersex movement has made impressive gains in recent years, yet unnecessary surgeries on children continue. I have many close friends who are intersex and their anger and sadness at their medical treatment touch me deeply. I share their frustration at the slow pace of change. When I went to law school my intersex friends asked me why these harmful, unnecessary surgeries were legal and what the law could do to stop them. As I studied the problem, I found that there were strong legal arguments available to protect intersex children, and a modest effort at this moment in history could make a profound impact. But no one has even tried; there has been no case in a U.S. court about these surgeries. I realized that with my research, my law degree and my commitment to civil rights, I could make a difference in the lives of intersex children. AIC launched its operations in 2006, by holding the first national intersex legal strategy roundtable. Representatives of national intersex groups, legal … Continue reading
May 5th commemorates the tragic death in 2004, of David Reimer. For those familiar with his story, his courage in speaking out in spite of the anguish and abuse he suffered seems an enormous accomplishment. Indeed, his life, though too short, and his work, contributed tremendously to the struggles for the human and civil rights of children and adults with intersex conditions and DSD everywhere. Born in 1965, in semi-rural Manitoba, Canada, to working class parents who both grew up on farms, David was 8 months old when doctors injured his genitals beyond the possibility of repair during a routine circumcision gone terribly wrong. As a consequence, David’s parents were referred to the late Dr. Money at John Hopkins University, who in the wake of David’s death and the death of his twin brother in 2002 (both by suicide) became infamous for the case. To enable David to be able to experience heterosexual sex and have a “normal” life, Dr. Money persuaded the Reimers that David should undergo sex reassignment surgery, hormone therapy and become “Brenda”. David’s surgery marked the first time that sex reassignment surgery was performed on an infant without an intersex or DSD condition. Dr. Money had … Continue reading
Finnish Pediatric Surgeon Mika Venhola recently denounced corrective surgeries on intersex infants and children. In his youtube interview from early April, Dr. Venhola states that when he was obliged as a medical student to perform “corrective surgery” (you can see him use air quotes in the clip) on an intersex baby he felt, “it was such a huge human rights and children’s rights violation that he swore he would never do it again and [he] hasn’t.” He was also moved to continue investigating if corrective surgeries were being performed elsewhere in the world and to obtain a consensus of his colleagues on the issue. What he found was that as of the late-90′s, most doctors were recommending and performing surgeries on intersex children despite the growing decent of intersex adults who survived these surgeries. Dr. Venhola calls this arrogance and continues to advocate among his colleagues for the rights of intersex people. The interview goes on to discuss his insights on the medical approach to both intersex and transgender people. As an ally to both, he has a strong human rights analysis. His final assessment provides an analogy that if you give a surgeon a hammer they are going to see a nail. Venhola urges that … Continue reading
The Ides of March (March 15th) marks a day of ancient betrayal, the assassination of Cesar, in the popular imagination of the West. Intersex youth, adults, and their communities are no strangers to such feelings. For the thousands of intersex children and adult survivors who have endured non-consensual genital surgeries, the medical institutions set-up to provide healthcare and healing instead frequently perpetuate grave harm, secrecy and stigma. However, this March 15th, marked a historic opportunity for Intersex people and their allies to tell their own stories and self-advocate on an international scale. On this day, Jen ‘Pidgeon’ Pagonis, AIC’s Youth Leadership Intern, and a leader in Inter/ Act and the US Intersex rights youth movement provided testimony to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The aim of this hearing was to begin a process in which the body would consider best practices for the treatment of intersex infants and children and determine if current practices, including involuntary sterilization and other forms of non-consensual genital surgeries constitute torture. The Inter-American Commission’s hearing comes on the heels of the March 4th statement made by the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture to that body’s 22nd General Council. The statement, consistent with the … Continue reading
By Sean Saifa Wall, Co-Chair, Advocates for Informed Choice and Dr. Susana Morris, member of the Crunk Feminist Collective On March 26th, 2013 in Sapele, the Delta State of Nigeria, Pastor Henry Enuta was physically stripped and humiliated in public because he is an intersex person. According to news reports, he was almost killed by a lynch mob before being taken into custody by police. Most of the headlines covering this story grossly refer to Mr. Enuta as a “hermaphrodite” because he has genitals that are characteristically male and female. To sensationalize this story and humiliate Mr. Enuta even more, media outlets have published pictures of him bare chested and with torn clothes, holding onto his dignity while passers-by capture pictures of him with their mobile phones. When I saw this story, I was horrified at how Mr. Enuta’s humanity was reduced to a mockery simply because his body did not conform to narrow standards of what a man’s body should be. For him to be forcibly stripped with no one to offer him clothes or rescue was atrocious. I was doubly astounded at how members of his community sought to kill him for the mere fact that he … Continue reading