Intersex Children & Genital Surgeries

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Here are some interesting things I found when searching for statistics on intersex children.

What does intersex mean? Intersex is a general term used for a variety of situations in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the boxes of “female” or “male.” Sometimes doctors do surgeries on intersex babies and children to make their bodies fit binary ideas of “male” or “female”.

“Gender normalizing” surgeries have been performed on intersex babies and children since at least the 1950soften in secrecy, without ever telling the children.

While there are certain surgical interventions on intersex children that are undisputedly medically necessary, some surgeons in the US continue to perform medically unnecessary, cosmetic surgeries on children, often before they are one year of age.

There are no state or federal laws regulating intersex surgeries in the U.S., according to InterACT, a national intersex advocacy group.

Many of us know about the harms of LGBTQ+ youth “conversion therapy.” But did you know about the physical, surgical harms faced by intersex youth?

Some doctors still believe it is okay to permanently change the genitalia and other sex traits of intersex minors by recommending unnecessary surgeries to parents. This is connected to a historical belief that changing intersex bodies will stop kids from growing up gay or transgender.

For more information check out

This brought up the question in my head. Why is this allowed to happen and transgender kids are being told they’re practically criminals for needing gender affirming surgeries?

What’s the difference between transgender and intersex?

A transgender person has a gender that is different than what adults assumed by looking at their body when they were born. For example, a person born with a vulva and vagina may grow up to realize they are not a woman. They could grow up as a transgender man, nonbinary person, or someone with another gender. People realize they are transgender at many different ages. Some may later affirm their gender through physical and/or medical changes. Most transgender people are not born with differences in the development of their genitals or reproductive anatomy.

Intersex people are born with differences in their chromosomes, genitals, or reproductive anatomy, compared to the usual two ways that bodies develop. Most children with intersex anatomy, regardless of how their bodies look, are raised in either male or female gender roles. And many intersex people do grow up with a gender identity that aligns with how they were raised: male or female. This means that intersex people can be cisgender. (“Cisgender” means someone is the gender that was assumed for them at birth.)

Seems that the medical community has no trouble performing surgery on a baby as long as it is to “normalize” their genitals.

This should be put out there as a counterpoint to the right-wing’s main message of needing to “protect the children” and “mutilating children’s genitals” argument.