Intersex People Deserve Proper Healthcare — So We Created a Hospital Policy Guide

BY HANS LINDAHL: For More Info, Go Here…

The Intersex-Affirming Hospital Policies guide lists ways the medical community can improve healthcare for intersex people.

I have never had a medical experience that was not traumatizing. And I am not alone. Intersex people like me often have nowhere to go to receive proper medical attention.

In late 2015, I moved to San Francisco with the naively optimistic belief that I could find an intersex-competent doctor in a city renowned for its LGBTQ+ population. If not here, then where? My search began by reaching out to trans clinics in hopes that they’d have seen intersex patients like me before. I found a doctor, herself a trans woman, who claimed to have experience treating intersex patients. She arrived to my routine checkup with a chilling bedside manner. The first words out of her mouth, before even seeing my records, were to ask why I hadn’t considered having an invasive surgery. She then told me to return in one week for a consultation on a hysterectomy. I don’t have a uterus.

Luckily, I know how to call these types of bluffs by now. Most people may not realize just how little most doctors know about intersex bodies. To this day, many medical professionals push damaging cosmetic surgeries — such as clitoral reductions — on intersex newborns. Panicked families have no reason not to believe that doctors would only advocate for their child’s best interests, but in reality, these surgeries are unnecessary, and are proven to compromise sexual function.

I’ve long since given up on trans clinics, and have settled for a queer women’s clinic in the city. My doctor, a trans man, is warm and welcoming despite having no prior experience with intersex patients. Together we used a pen to cross out “transgender woman” and write in “intersex” on the clinic’s hormone replacement therapy (HRT) forms. There were no options on the forms for intersex people to begin with.

Intersex people who are born without functioning ovaries or testes — as well as those of us who were born with ovaries, testes, or ovotestes that would have functioned had surgeons not removed them without our consent as young children — are dependent on the medical industry for HRT, which is necessary for our bone health. This practice, often done to make us categorizable as “male” or “female” as a result of society’s discomfort with intersex bodies, can be sterilizing. Medical “care” for intersex people has historically focused on getting us through a cis-normative puberty. After that, we’re on our own, left with nowhere to go for advice as adults, reliant on synthetic hormones for the rest of our lives.

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