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WHO, UN Condemn Forced Sterilization of Trans & Intersex People

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Monday Jun 2, 2014

In a groundbreaking report, the World Health Organization (WHO) has joined forces with UN Women, UN AIDS, UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Development Programme and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to condemn the forced sterilization of transgender and intersex people.

Gay Star News reports that the report, "Eliminating Forced, Coercive and Otherwise Involuntary Sterilization - An Interagency Statement" is a strong statement in support of the rights of transgender and intersex people to be recognized by the gender they have chosen, regardless of the surgical procedures they undertake.

The report notes that voluntary sterilization is still an important form of contraception in many parts of the world, but condemns coercion of people against their will, saying, "Sterilization is an important option for individuals and couples to control their fertility... However, in some countries, people belonging to certain population groups, including people living with HIV, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, and transgender and intersex persons, continue to be sterilized without their full, free and informed consent."

This has been described as "an involuntary, coercive and/or forced practice, and as a violation of fundamental human rights, including the right to health, the right to information, the right to privacy, the right to decide on the number and spacing of children, the right to found a family and the right to be free from discrimination."

This includes the assigning of sex to intersex infants -- those born with characteristics that makes the sex indeterminate -- via 'corrective' surgery.

According to the website Transgender Europe (TGEU), there are 24 countries in Europe that still require sterilization for legal gender recognition and 16 countries that offer no recourse to change one's name and gender.

This prevents transgender people from applying for a job, opening a bank account, and even boarding a plane.

"I experience so much discrimination, harassment and violence that it has become my daily life," reported one of the 6,771 trans identified respondents of a EU LGBT survey.

The report notes that international human rights groups have condemned these practices, including many countries' standard procedures to assign gender to people or force sterilization on them. It is the strongest statement to date by the WHO regarding transgender individuals.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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