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Why did Tamil Nadu ban sex normalisation surgeries on intersex children? (Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance)

The Tamil Nadu government passed an order on August 13 banning sex normalisation surgeries in intersex children and infants, except in life threatening circumstances.

What does intersex mean?
Intersex refers to people born with physical and biological characteristics that are more diverse than stereotypical definitions of male or female bodies. Gopi Shankar, a Madurai-based activist/anchor of the student movement Srishti Madurai, whose petition to the National Human Rights Commission on the subject the court leaned heavily on, says there are differences between gender, sexual identity and sexual orientation. While gender identity is assigned at birth based on the anatomy (male or female sexual organs, both internal and external), sexual identity is what one sees oneself as, and sexual orientation is the sex a person is attracted to. Mr. Gopi claims that every year there are 10,000 babies born with intersex conditions, when it is difficult to classify the reproductive organs as male or female.

Why are sex selective surgeries performed on infants?
When these differences are apparent at birth, parents are eager to resolve the question of the gender of the baby and pick a gender, possibly ignorant of the fact that the child will have to pick a sexual identity in the process of growing up. Surgery to correct the genitalia is then performed on the child which could lead to physical trauma, emotional turmoil and problems arising out of confusion about identity.

The government order specifies that such surgeries can only be performed in case there is a life-threatening situation. It adds that this call would be made by a team that includes paediatric surgeons/urologists, endocrinologists, a social worker/intersex activist and a government representative. The consent of the parent cannot be considered the consent of the child.

Source: The Hindu



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