One of the top children’s hospitals in the United States, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Of Chicago, has apologised for performing cosmetic genital surgery on intersex infants. The apology, the first in the US, comes after a high profile campaign, which saw support from Pose stars and trans actors Indya Moore, MJ Rodriguez and Angelica Ross.

“We recognize the painful history and complex emotions associated with intersex surgery and how, for many years, the medical field has failed these children. Historically care for individuals with intersex traits included an emphasis on early genital surgery to make genitalia appear more typically male or female. As the medical field has advanced, and understanding has grown, we now know this approach was harmful and wrong,” the hospital posted in a blog on its website

“We empathize with intersex individuals who were harmed by the treatment that they received according to the historic standard of care and we apologize and are truly sorry.”

The hospital said that its Sex Development Clinic had not performed a clitoroplasty on an infant or child in the last five years. The hospital said that from here on its policy was that “in intersex individuals irreversible genital procedures, particularly clitoroplasty, should not be performed until patients can participate meaningfully in making the decision for themselves, unless medically necessary.”

The exceptions carved out by the hospital are those with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) who are now being considered as “potentially a separate patient population.”

 In a joint press statement the Intersex Justice Project (IJP) and interACT, that advocate on behalf of intersex youth welcomed the apology, but sought more concrete action.

The hospital was among those targeted by IJP for over three years with its #EndIntersexSurgery campaign that had garnered over 45,000 signatures.

“This is a historic day following decades of work. We refuse to stop until all intersex children are protected from state-sanctioned violence,” said Sean Saifa Wall, intersex activist and co-founder of IJP.

“The goal of the #EndIntersexSurgery campaign has always been to create a domino effect. Lurie’s example sets the tone for other hospitals to leave intersex people their own choices about their bodies. But we’re not done,” said Pidgeon Pagonis, co-founder of IJP.

IJP pointed out that major human rights organisations have condemned “surgeries to change the appearance or sexual function of an infant’s genitals—such as reducing a clitoris, moving a working urethra, removing functional testes, and creating or extending a vagina.”

The orgnisation said that the next step was reparations and its list of demands include; “free medical care that does not position intersex variations as problems to be fixed and providing hormones and psychological support for intersex young people and their parent.”

 Doctor Ellie Kim, a trans physician who works as a researcher at the hospital, was also credited with building internal pressure to act. Dr Kim termed the announcement as a “major win for the LGBTQI community… honoured to have been (small) part of this incredible movement. Now let’s see all the other pediatric programs in Chicago step up and advocate for their intersex patients as well!”

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