The Association for Transgender Health in India (ATHI), which works towards mainstreaming of transgender people and their welfare, has written a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Health Minister Satyendar Jain requesting them to ban sex reassignment surgeries on intersex children until they reach 18.
The association also called for a ban on the “two finger-test” — also called the virginity test — on transgenders, women and girls with disabilities who are victims of sexual assault.
Citing the Madras High Court order that has recently put a ban on sex reassignment surgeries on intersex infants and children, the group urged the Delhi government to implement the order in the city.
“When an intersex person grows up, many times the parents do not even tell them that they have been operated on in childhood. It’s sometimes an accidental discovery for the child, and that can be very traumatic. This discovery can happen during puberty, sometimes post-marriage when they face infertility issues. They feel cheated as something was done to their body without their consent… If it is not life threatening, then it should be avoided till the child reaches 18 so that they can decide,” said Dr Aqsa Shaikh of ATHI.
As per the World Health Organisation, intersex is a congenital anomaly of the reproductive and sexual system.
In 2014, the Supreme Court, in the landmark NALSA judgment, had said that such surgeries on infants and children should be banned. Earlier this year, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had reiterated the Supreme Court’s stand, and suo motu asked the Secretary of Health and Family Department to ensure that this is done in the state.
“Surgeries are performed on intersex children for non-critical conditions after taking the family’s consent. These are mostly for cosmetic reasons, to make sure these children fit into what is traditionally considered the ‘normal genitalia’,” added Dr Shaikh.
The association has also suggested to the department of health, social welfare and Delhi Medical Council to adopt measures to prevent sex reassignment or “sex normalising” surgeries, bullying, and stigmatisation against intersex children.