AOM Position Statement on Intersex Child Autonomy
Intersex people, those born with variations of physical sex characteristics, are a diverse group that face discrimination and often experience trauma when engaging with health care providers, beginning in infancy. The midwife, as the baby’s primary health care provider, can have an important role both during the initial newborn exam and in the first six weeks of life. The Association of Ontario Midwives is committed to respecting the human rights of the child. The AOM represents clinical care providers who have a strong relationship with clients, and are uniquely positioned to help families to advocate for their child, make appropriate referrals, and provide advocacy on a greater community and professional level.
The AOM is committed to challenging cisnormativity and heteronormativity. Nonconsensual, cosmetic and medically unnecessary genital or gonadal surgery in order to bring individuals into conformation with the gender binary has many lasting deleterious effects. These surgeries can render an individual physically or psychologically unable to experience sexual pleasure, limits their reproductive choices, and can cause life-long dependency on hormone replacement therapy.
The United Nations has clearly expressed that medically unnecessary genital surgeries are a violation of the child’s rights and have a scarring, lasting impact which can necessitate repeated surgeries as the child grows. According to the statement from the United Nations:
“Given their irreversible nature and impact on physical integrity and autonomy, such medically unnecessary, unsolicited surgery or treatment should be prohibited. Intersex children and their families should receive adequate counselling and support, including from peers."
As an Association, we believe healthy children should not be subjected to unnecessary and harmful interventions. We are committed to respecting the human rights of all people, including the rights of intersex people.
As primary health care providers, midwives are responsible for providing informed choice and arranging any necessary referrals or consultations during the neonatal period. Midwives can have a tremendous impact as they support families of intersex babies in their journey.
We are committed to supporting and advocating for intersex people. The AOM condemns unnecessary surgeries and supports midwives to provide medically-appropriate, sensitive, supportive, evidence-based care to all families.
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