Intersex People

Intersex people are people with a congenital condition where their chromosomes, sex glands, or anatomy have not developed in a typical manner. The biological sex of an intersex person cannot be  defined as either male or female at birth but exhibits inconsistency with the norm in one or several ways. In most countries, including Sweden, intersex infants are routinely provided with surgery to comply with gender binary and be categorized as a man or a woman. The surgery can involve removal or modification of a child’s genitals and sex glands, and occurs even when the procedure is not medically justified. The medical practice in this area is legally unregulated and only rests on the formulation in the Swedish Patient Safety Act that all medical treatments and procedures must be based on ‘science and proven experience’.

However, there is insignificant scientific support regarding the benefit and safety of these procedures. Colombia, Malta, and Chile are the only countries that have outlawed cosmetically or socially motivated surgery on children with intersex variations. The new ethical guidelines for healthcare in Finland also discourages doctors from performing sex-corrective surgery on infants unless it is medically justified. Often, the sex a person acquired through medical intervention does not match with the person’s gender identity. In such cases in Sweden, the person is sent to undergo sex-corrective treatment, despite the fact that the situation is a matter of correcting a ‘medical mistreatement’.


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