All children deserve to keep all parts of their genitals. While foreskin amputation is the most widespread and pervasive violation of genital autonomy, there are others to be aware of.
Intersex Genital Mutilation
Approximately 1.7% of humans are born with sex organs somewhere on the spectrum between female and male.
Unfortunately, instead of celebrating this variation, (as one might celebrate the similarly improbable birth of a red-haired child) many parents get scared, and these children are routinely subjected to unnecessary and harmful surgery.
This medicine that I’ve been taking since I was 13?
They told me that I was taking it because I have androgen insensitivity syndrome, but that’s not true. I’m taking it because they took out my testes when I was 3 months old.
I had surgeries when I was 5 and 6 to gender-assign me male. They left internal scar tissue … so every morning I’d wake up to a wet bed.
When I hit puberty, the artificial urethra … ripped apart. And it continued ripping every time I hit one of those growth spurts.
When I was born they could not say whether I was a boy or a girl by looking. I was just a healthy baby.
If you have an intersex child, love that child, and let that child decide who it is.
Female Genital Mutilation
A lot of people aren’t aware that they used to cut little girls’ genitals in the United States of America.
When people found out what was happening in Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, … they were horrified. But behind closed doors, they were mutilating their own young boys.
Fortunately, cutting the genitals of girls was made illegal in the USA in 1997 (and again in 2021 after a federal judge in 2018 struck down that law), but it is difficult to successfully prosecute cases of FGM while male and intersex children are still being neglected, because the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law.
As Martin Luther King understood, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” No children will be truly safe from genital mutilation until all children are safe from genital mutilation.
We urge other human rights organizations to join us in advocating for the rights of all children to be protected – regardless of the identity of the victims or the motivations of the perpetrators – from harmful and unnecessary genital tampering.