Speaker: Kyle Night, Researcher, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program , Human Rights Watch
Since the 1960s, children born with atypical sex characteristics – or intersex – in the US have been routinely subjected to “normalizing” cosmetic surgeries before they are old enough to consent to the procedures. The operations are not medically necessary and carry risks of irreversible lifelong harm. Every human rights body to consider the issue has deemed the surgeries a human rights violation, and an increasing number of medical professional associations have critiqued the practice as unscientific and against medical ethics. Intersex patient advocates have likened the surgeries to “conversion therapy” used to attempt to change sexual orientation — in that there is no proof of efficacy and widespread evidence of harm. However despite this mounting evidence and critique, the practice continues and some surgeons and medical organizations defend it. This talk will give an overview of the controversy, the progress to date, and what’s next for law and policy advocacy to protect the rights to health and bodily autonomy for intersex children in the US and around the world.
Kyle Knight is a researcher in the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. Prior to joining the LGBT rights program, he was a fellow at the Williams Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles and a Fulbright scholar in Nepal. As a journalist he has worked for Agence France-Presse in Nepal and for IRIN, the UN’s humanitarian news service, reporting from Burma, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia. He has previously worked for UNAIDS, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, and in the children’s rights and health and human rights divisions at Human Rights Watch. He studied cultural anthropology at Duke University.