Readers React: No intersex child should be forced to undergo cosmetic genital surgery

State Sen. Scott Wiener has introduced a bill to ban cosmetic genital surgery on intersex children.
State Sen. Scott Wiener has introduced a bill to ban cosmetic genital surgery on intersex children.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

To the editor: As an intersex woman and director of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, I’m writing in support of California’s SB 201, which would ban medically unnecessary genital surgery on intersex children.

The bill aims to end the physical and emotional harms resulting from unnecessary intervention suffered by children born with variations of sex characteristics. The quote Dr. Lane Palmer, president of the Societies for Pediatric Urology, that patients who have early surgeries heal better if they’re young, is unsupported. I’d like him to follow his patients into adulthood to see the outcomes of these operations.

The government needs to protect vulnerable children from harm perpetrated by a subset of specialists operating under the guise of honoring parents’ rights. I call upon the California Legislature to pass SB 201 and be the first state to stand on the right side of history.


Kimberly Zieselman, Sudbury, Mass.


To the editor: Dr. Palmer appears more concerned with parents’ ignorant neuroses than with the welfare of intersex kids and adults whose bodies have been changed cosmetically as infants.

If a procedure is medically necessary, it is excluded from the legislation and is not a part of this discussion. State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is targeting cosmetic procedures only.

No parent or doctor knows the adult that a child will become, so no parent or doctor should ever meddle with a child’s body for cosmetic reasons. This is true for bowed legs, straightened by a doctor for no valid medical reason (my own experience), or genitals removed or added to force the child into a gender-conforming mold.

Cosmetic changes to a child too young to consent are destructive and should be made illegal across the board. They do far more harm than good to a community already burdened by discrimination and marginalization and are, by definition, medically unnecessary.

Matthew Enger, Pasadena

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook