A Delhi High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad granted eight weeks to the Delhi Government to take a decision in regard to banning medically unnecessary sex-selective surgeries on intersex infants and children. This matter reached the court when the Srishti Madurai Educational Research Foundation filed a PIL to seek proper regulations under which babies and children can be made to undergo such surgeries.
As detailed by LiveLaw.in, the petitioners claimed that “.. the issue of sex-selective surgeries or medically unnecessary normalizing surgeries has a long-lasting drastic psychological impact on the minds of intersex people and deters them from even seeking medical attention in future. This aspect is proved by recent news reports that examine the reasons behind reluctance to seek medical help despite having symptoms of Covid-19 among a significant number of intersex people.”
‘Intersex’ is usually used as an umbrella term for people with bodies that do not fall under the binary of ‘male’ and ‘female’. The sex spectrum, like the gender spectrum, is wide and people can be intersex in many ways, like having external genitals that do not fall under the category of male or female or having a combination of chromosomes that is different to the XX or XY. There are many other ways that a person can be intersex because bodies come in all shapes and forms. To think of intersex as ‘half male and half female’ is therefore a misconception that is the result of over-simplified constructs in biology classes.
The arguments and media coverage have mostly focused on intersex infants and children who are born with a combination of ‘male’ and ‘female’ genitals, where doctors and families usually decide to perform surgery in an attempt to make the baby’s body fit the binary notion of sex. The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has recommended that such surgeries be banned in non-threatening situations. These surgeries are an attempt to ‘fix’ intersex people as if there is something wrong with them, which is a human rights violation of their bodily autonomy. It is largely believed by intersex activists all over the world that people should be allowed to make the decision of whether or not they want to go through such invasive medical procedures when they are adults.
The Delhi High Court dismissed the petition after issuing the notice to the Delhi Government and said that the Foundation can file a new PIL if they do not agree with the decision that the government will take within the stipulated time.