Lurie Children’s Hospital Vows to End Non-Consensual Intersex Surgeries on Children

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Lurie Children’s Hospital promises to discontinue non-consensual intersex surgery. 

In response to growing internal and external pressure to reevaluate current controversial practices, Lurie Children’s Hospital is implementing meaningful changes to create a more inclusive, safe space. The hospital has vowed to abandon its former deeply divisive practice of performing non-consensual intersex surgery—a surgical procedure performed on those born with sexual anatomy that does not conform to traditional male or female bodies. 

Many individuals criticize this medical intervention and believe it undermines intersex children’s rights to bodily integrity. Genital surgeries on intersex children too young to participate in the decision carry the risk of surgically assigning the wrong sex. Critics maintain that these procedures pose serious human rights issues. 

Activists are urging doctors to modify and modernize the dominant, yet pejorative and outdated, narrative surrounding these surgeries on intersex babies. Many doctors perform surgery on intersex infants with the alleged aim of making it easier for them to live a “normal” life. However, although potentially benign in nature, this is a deeply flawed and damaging mindset. Intersex children are too young to declare their gender identity and these surgeries could be safely deferred. Adversaries argue that, in many cases, this non-consensual medical intervention inflicts permanent harm on intersex children and promotes self-contempt or serious identity issues during adolescence.

Lurie Children’s Hospital has finally addressed these cries for action. In addition to releasing a formal apology on July 28th, acknowledging the harmful nature of these procedures, the hospital has vowed to discontinue the controversial practice. The hospital directed their apology at, “intersex individuals who were harmed by the treatment that they received” at the hospital, claiming they “recognize the painful history and complex emotions associated with intersex surgery and how, for many years, the medical field has failed these children.”      

Co-founder of the Intersex Justice Project Pidgeon Pagonis, an individual who personally experienced the damaging effects of a wrongful and unsolicited intersex surgery, commented on Lurie’s apology. Pidgeon Pagonis told Teen Vogue, “Lurie’s apology is a great step in the right direction…We will monitor these developments and ensure Lurie holds to its promise of ending intersex surgery. We implore every children’s hospital in the U.S. to stop these medically unnecessary procedures.”

We look forward to seeing what hospital steps up next.