Management of Intersex Newborns: Legal and Ethical Developments

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 143.2 ( Nov. 2018): 255–259

10 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2018

See all articles by Bernard Dickens

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

Countries worldwide are increasingly expanding male/female binary sex classifications to recognize a third status. Intersex newborns may be included in this third category on birth certification. Parents, families and communities require counselling and education to accommodate intersex newborns without stigma or discrimination. Whatever its biological/genetic origin, intersex status is a natural if relatively uncommon condition (1 in 1500 to 2000 live births) that distinguishes sex from gender. The tendency of societies to recognize only male and female genders at birth has resulted in intersex children being subjected to invasive surgery and related sometimes lifelong medication to confirm them as male or female. On gaining maturity, some are severely distressed and resentful that early gender assignment was mistaken, particularly when excision of testes to enforce femininity or of ovaries to enforce masculinity has denied them procreative capacity. Emerging principles support postponement of such interventions until intersex individuals can make a gender choice for themselves.

Keywords: Birth certification, Gender/sex contrast, Hermaphroditism, Intersex newborns, Newborns, Sex/gender contrast, Transexuality

JEL Classification: J13, I18

Suggested Citation

Dickens, Bernard, Management of Intersex Newborns: Legal and Ethical Developments (2018). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 143.2 ( Nov. 2018): 255–259, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3191453

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
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