Protecting the rights of intersex people

An EU-funded project has made recommendations to protect the rights of intersex people and prevent unnecessary, non-consensual medical interventions. This could strengthen European efforts to support sexual minorities.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 17 September 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesHealth & special needs
Human resources & mobilityMarie Curie Actions
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Italy
Add to PDF "basket"

Protecting the rights of intersex people

Image

© Juanje Garrido #194466306, 2018 fotolia.com

Intersex people are born with chromosomal, hormonal and/or anatomic variations that deviate from what is typically defined as male and female. In much of the world, current medical practice focuses on irreversible cosmetic genital surgery so that minors conform to a specific gender. However, these procedures can leave long-term physical problems and psychological scars.

The EU-funded INTERSEXIONS project investigated the medical, legal and social practices adopted in cases of intersex variations, with a focus on Italy. It addressed how medical practices and guidelines have changed over time, as well as their consequences on people’s lives.

Key results include a series of recommendations for Italian policymakers and the medical community aimed at protecting the human rights of intersex people; and a map of intersex organisations as a resource for those affected.

“In the medical community, nationally and internationally, some serious doubts about current clinical protocols have been expressed but those who speak out publicly are very few,” says lead INTERSEXIONS researcher Michela Balocchi of the University of Verona in Italy.

New guidelines for policymakers

A number of key points emerged from Balocchi’s research, such as the gap between current medical practices, their effects on intersex individuals and families, and what intersex activists and patients’ organisations ask for in terms of healthcare and human rights. In particular, the international intersex movement has advocated against unnecessary, non-consensual surgery and pharmacological treatments.

Balocchi has drawn up guidelines and recommendations for European policymakers covering intersex issues, and is proposing new bioethical guidelines for Italian regions to prevent unnecessary genital surgery.

One of her long-term goals is to create a national scientific observatory on intersex issues. This would be composed of researchers and advocates, intersex and not, with the aim of monitoring the situation in Italy and elsewhere, as well as promoting research and disseminating scientific information.

Global map of intersex groups

Intersex individuals and families do not have enough information and peer support, according to Balocchi. Therefore, she decided to create a global map of intersex organisations.

“This map is the first one of its kind,” says Balocchi. “It's a work in progress, so I will continue to update it when necessary, especially because of the vitality with which, in recent years, new organisations are emerging.”

The interactive map can be found on the project’s website – www.intersexionsproject.eu. It classifies groups on the basis of their membership and aims, and forms part of a strategy to build networks between research centres, intersex organisations and politicians, at both national and international levels.

Multi-disciplinary research

Balocchi’s research covered areas as diverse as sociology, biomedicine, anthropology, politics, law, bioethics and human rights. It involved both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative focus included in-depth narrative interviews with intersex people, parents of intersex children, medical and mental health professionals, feminists and LGBTQ activists.

Balocchi notes a huge lack of quantitative data on intersex variations and the numerous medical treatments that intersex people receive, attributing this to concealment or denial of the phenomenon itself. As part of her research, she analysed 20-years’ worth of data related to individuals with intersex variations from hospitals in Tuscany. This data was important for producing the new guidelines on intersex issues for Italian policymakers.

INTERSEXIONS received funding through the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, enabling Balocchi to collaborate with Lorenzo Bernini at the University of Verona and Ellen Feder at the American University in Washington.

Project details

  • Project acronym: INTERSEXIONS
  • Participants: Italy (Coordinator)
  • Project N°: 627162
  • Total costs: € 350 670
  • EU contribution: € 350 670
  • Duration: September 2014 to November 2017

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details