Thiruvananthapuram | Members of the transgender community in Kerala on Thursday hailed the recent High Court judgement on sex affirmative surgery without consent on intersex minors, saying such procedures performed may not always be "correct and successful." They wholeheartedly welcomed the court verdict, which dismissed a plea filed by the parents of a seven-year-old intersex minor - with ambiguous genitalia - seeking permission for genital reconstructive surgery to raise their child as a female.
Noted transgender activist Sheethal Shyam pointed out that there is a lack of awareness about intersex persons in society in general and in the medical field in particular.
"When intersex children are born, many medical professionals will suggest the parents conduct corrective surgeries on them to affirm their gender. But, such procedures and the gender they choose for the child may not always be correct and successful," she told PTI.
In a majority of cases, the family would prefer to remove the female genitals of intersex kids after retaining the male organs, the activist said.
"They are doing it based on their choice and preference. But, the tragedy is that when the child grows older and attains maturity, the kid may develop an orientation towards a gender other than the one to which the person was converted through surgical procedure," Sheethal Shyam explained.
The family and the medical professionals might think that through the surgical procedure, the child can be switched to one or the other gender, but it may not work in all cases, she added.
"Such sex corrective surgeries will adversely impact the life of the intersex person. In my opinion, it should be done only at an age when the person is mature enough to think and understand about their own sexual orientation," Shyam further said.
Though intersexuality is a biological condition, the lack of awareness about it among medical professionals has resulted in viewing it as a disease or confusion, the activist charged.
So, awareness creation cutting across all fields, including the judiciary, is essential to bring about a change in the mindset of people, She said the HC verdict is a landmark one by all means.
The activist also demanded stern action against illegal sex conversion and hormone therapy centres thriving in the state and the need for a concrete protocol and clear-cut guidelines for the treatment of transgender persons.
Sharing similar views, transgender artist RLV Charulatha also wholeheartedly supported the recent High Court verdict and said performing such procedures on a minor child is an infringement on their life and dignity.
"Many of our community members have gone through such trauma at a particular stage of their lives over their gender identity and orientation," the transwoman told PTI.
If a minor undergoes corrective surgery and the sexual orientation of the child is found to be different later, his or her life would be hell. "So, I wholeheartedly welcome the recent High court verdict denying permission for performing non-consensual sex affirmative surgery on a minor," she added.
A sex affirmative surgery without consent on a minor would violate the child's dignity and privacy, the Kerala High Court has held while dismissing a plea filed by the parents of a seven-year-old with ambiguous genitalia seeking permission for a genital reconstructive surgery to raise their child as a female.
In an order issued on August 7, Justice V G Arun said that intervention with an individual's right to choose sex or identity will definitely be an intrusion into that person's privacy and an affront to his/her dignity and freedom.
The court, however, considering the parents' concerns over the health of the child, said necessary interventions can be made based on the recommendation by a "duly constituted medical board." It then directed the government to constitute a State Level Multidisciplinary Committee consisting of experts, which shall include a pediatrician/ pediatric endocrinologist, pediatric surgeon and child psychiatrist/child psychologist.
The court also directed the government to issue an order regulating sex selective surgeries on infants and children within three months.