Lurie Children’s stopping intersex surgeries on children

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Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (Photo provided by Lurie Children’s)

CHICAGO — The Lurie Children’s of Chicago announced on Wednesday that they would no longer perform genital surgery on children.

In an announcement on their website, the hospital stated that surgery on intersex individuals, particularly clitoroplasty, should not be performed until patients can participate meaningfully in making the decision for themselves, unless medically necessary. 

Lurie Children’s also apologized to those harmed by such surgeries in the past.

The hospital stated that, in the past, the care for individuals with intersex traits included an emphasis on early genital surgery to make genitalia appear more typically male or female.

“As the medical field has advanced, and understanding has grown, we now know this approach was harmful and wrong,” the hospital said in the statement. “Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and our Sex Development Clinic recognizes this truth. We empathize with intersex individuals who were harmed by the treatment that they received according to the historic standard of care and we apologize and are truly sorry.”

The hospital said those with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) could be considered a separate patient population. But until best practices can be evaluated, Lurie will not perform surgeries on children with CAH either.

The hospital also made a commitment to hire and retain individuals who identify as intersex, or those with CAH, into decision-making roles, collaborating with community partners and advocates to provide a new written resource within the next 3 months, and ontract with an intersex person or advocacy group to facilitate a sensitivity training with their Sex Development Clinic team.

The Chicago-based Intersex Justice Project (IJP) celebrated the announcement.

“We always knew we would win, but we didn’t think it would be this soon,” IJP said in a blog post. “Today we acknowledge this as a win, a victory for a community not used to victories, but the fight continues; we will continue putting pressure on Lurie to implement comprehensive healthcare that intersex children and adult survivors of these harmful interventions deserve.”

IJP had been actively campaigning for Lurie to end the practice since 2017.

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