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11 Cardozo Women's L.J. 283 (2004-2005)
Intersex Education, Advocacy & (and) the Law: The Struggle for Recognition and Protection

handle is hein.journals/cardw11 and id is 291 raw text is: INTERSEX EDUCATION, ADVOCACY & THE LAW:
THE STRUGGLE FOR RECOGNITION AND
PROTECTION
ERINLLOYD*
When he first received the assignment to do a program on intersex issues,
Steph Watts said he was excited to be doing a show on Internet sex. The director
of Size Matters, an episode of In the Life,1 revealed his initial ignorance about
the existence and treatment of intersex children before showing his piece to an
international audience of activists, lawyers and educators at Benjamin N. Cardozo
School of Law, Yeshiva University on February 22, 2005. A theme that would be
repeated throughout the symposium, Intersex Education, Advocacy and the Law,
Mr. Watts' reaction to the word intersex is not uncommon: few people are familiar
with the conditions and experiences of intersex people. Originally used as a term to
refer to bisexuals in the late 19th century, the word intersex has since replaced the
antiquated term hermaphrodite to refer to individuals born with chromosomal or
genital variations that differ from what is considered standard male or female. As
many as 65,000 children worldwide are born with an intersex condition each year,
some estimating that between 150 and 300 are born in the United States alone.
Many, if not most, of the children born with genital variations are subjected to what
the medical literature calls sex assignment surgery. These surgeries can range from
a reduction in the size of a female's clitoris to full reconstruction of the genitals and
a change of gender.
Intersex activists and advocates argue that these surgeries are generally
cosmetic, that they are emotionally, psychologically and physically scarring, and
that they are unnecessary for the healthy development of the intersex child.
Traditionally, however, the medical community has insisted that the surgeries are a
necessary step toward stabilizing gender development, normalizing the child, and
allowing parents to properly bond with their child.
In the first gathering of its kind, the Cardozo Women's Law Journal and
Bodies Like Ours,2 an intersex support and advocacy group, brought together
panelists from six different countries and participants from around the country and
* Erin Lloyd is entering her third year at City University of New York School of Law and expects to
graduate with her J.D. in 2006. She was a legal intern at Intersex Initiative in Portland, Oregon in 2004
and is currently working on an article which will put forth a model statute requiring judicial consent
before genital surgery may be performed on an intersex minor.
I More information on In the Life: The Gay and Lesbian Newsmagazine on Public Television
and copies of the video can be requested at http://www.inthelifetv.org.
2 See http://www.bodieslikeours.com.

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