Transcript: Intersex Q&A during the 68th Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Geneva 21.-22.01.2015
Transcript by Nella of the entire 68th CRC Intersex Q&A, Geneva 21.-22.01.2015:
Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the Committee on the
Rights of the Child (pictured center): (Video Segment
1, 1:00:32–1:02:23; original English, afternoon session 21.01.2015)
"[Thank you. Is there any other member who'd like the floor now? …] Thank
you. As I cannot see any other hands, I have a question myself on intersex
They were mentioned by Mr Madi [CRC co-rapporteur on Switzerland, in the
List of Issues (LoI)] under discrimination, but I would also like to raise it
as an issue of physical integrity or kind of violence to children or a harmful
practice, because it's seems that actually in most countries in the world
children that are born with an unclear sexual - what do you call it - well,
where the genitals of the child are unclear and they may develop this way or
that way or they may stay unclear.
There is surgery done to the child at an early stage without proper
information given to the parents, and also without the child him- or herself,
of course at such an early stage, when you are a baby, being able to have a say
in this matter, and also, the child, things are happening also later on, with
new surgery, before the child is old enough to have a view on this or able to
consent for that matter.
So I wonder, I guess you are aware of this practice, and I wonder if you are considering, or maybe considering to prohibit it actually, to not have it done without a proper consent, which is really an informed consent, and if possible by the child or then perhaps an adult, him- or herself. Exactly how to regulate it might be something that has to be discussed, but anyway the practice as it goes on today does not seem to be one which is in the best interest of these children. So I would like some comments on this."
Ambassador Stephan Cueni, Head of the Swiss Delegation, Federal Social Insurance Office (pictured 3rd from right): (Video Segment 4, 53:18–53:38, simultaneous translation from French; afternoon session 22.01.2015) "I think we're now coming to the last question of the first round and it's the question of the chairperson, it's on intersex children, and I would like to ask our colleague, Miss Gianinazzi, to answer that question. Debora Gianinazzi of the Federal Justice Office."
Debora Gianinazzi, Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police,
Private Law Division: (Video Segment
4, 53:40–57:48, simultaneous translation from French, afternoon session
22.01.2015) "Thank you. Indeed aesthetic surgery, genital surgery performed
on minors has led to sharp criticisms in Switzerland as well, because this
operations are irreversible, and can cause heavy damage to the person,
especially if the assigned sex then is not in keeping with the identity
experienced by the person him- or herself.
In response to a parliamentary initiative in 2011 the government
presented the opinion, according to which these operations designed to assign
or change a sex should only be performed in case of imperative medical reasons,
for example a very high risk of cancer or mental risks for small children, for
example in the case of problems with their enrolment in school, so with their
experience in school. So beyond imperative medical grounds infants and young
children should never be subjected to operations, unless there is a ward of
doctors with the approval of the parents who decide.
So the government asked the National Ethics Commission in the area of
Human Health to take up a position on this issue, and this commission indeed
handed out an opinion in November 2012, and rallied to the government's
position on this topic.
The commission also made recommendations to the medical corps on medical
ethics on a campaign and the rights of the families in this
As to child registration we remain in the situation where in
Switzerland, when a child is born, the child is registered in the civil
register with a gender male or female, but the Commission has requested the
Government to ensure that, at a later stage, the gender in the birth
certificate can be amended without too many bureaucratic obstacles from the
cantonal level of the civil registry.
Following this recommendation the federal authorities issued a
recommendation to the cantonal civil registries to this effect, and the point
of this was to raise the awareness of all officials in the civil registries and
to inform them about the recommendations on the gender, and to incite them to
be very careful, when recording gender and names as well. If possible a
procedure for the amendment to the registry of the gender on the birth
certificate should also be provided for as well as in the civil registry. So
that is the current situation in Switzerland.
No, I am sorry, I actually could add something. I could clarify that in general terms the government wishes to collect information on surgery on intersex grounds. For the time being we have no clear data, the Federal Office for Statistics and the Federal Office for Public Health are now working together to develop a design for the collection of data, and the information on such surgery will allow us to gain a better appraisal of the situation."
Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the
Child: (Video Segment
4, 57:49–59:14; afternoon session 22.01.2015) "Thank you, this is
interesting to hear. I just wonder, I didn't quite catch what you said you had
done with the recommendations of the National Ethical Commission. I think some
of them were passed on to the medical corps, whatever the medical people, but I
think the problem of this, what you started off by saying, is that, if you
require, if you have the possibility of doing this, when there are imperative
The doctors, who might have an interest in continuing with this, would
very often find those imperative medical reasons, and you mentioned cancer or
medical risks [Gianinazzi actually said "mental risks"], and we know from the
information we have that this has been allegedly the case with parents who have
been persuaded by doctors to have the surgery performed at an early
So it doesn't really seem strong enough, the reaction. But then I think your information on collecting more information on this is really interesting, because from the information we have nothing has changed since 2012. There is still a lot going on in the same way as before. But thank you very much for the information."
IGM on a Global Scale: 2015
Briefing for UN-CRC
• IGM: A Survivor's Perspective • Intersex Movement History
• What are IGM Practices? • What are Variations of Sex Anatomy?
• IGM and Human Rights • Conclusion: IGM as a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB) >>> Table of Contents
Intersex Genital Mutilations • 17 Most Common
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Sex Anatomy
IGM – Historical Overview • What is Intersex? • How Common are IGMs?
>>> Download PDF (3.65 MB) >>> Table of Contents