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Unspeakable Gender? The Story International Human Rights Law Is (Not) Telling about Medical Sexing Interventions upon Intersex Children

Dates:
  • Wed 05 Dec 2018 15.00 - 17.00
  Add to Calendar 2018-12-05 15:00 2018-12-05 17:00 Europe/Paris Unspeakable Gender? The Story International Human Rights Law Is (Not) Telling about Medical Sexing Interventions upon Intersex Children

Over the last few years, many international institutions have called upon states to stop medical sexing interventions upon intersex children, also known as ‘normalising’ surgeries. Intersex rights are increasingly recognised under international human rights law from the perspective of the rights of children, women, persons with disabilities, and as forms of torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment. In absence of a comprehensive human rights conceptualisation, I propose a gender analysis of medical sexing interventions, which would capture the socially and culturally-engrained grounds of the violation. The physically diverse intersex features seem to challenge the cultural norms which define sex/gender in dichotomous terms in the West. Surgeries are therefore performed on individuals born with sex characteristics which do not conform to the typical male or female anatomy. The reconstruction of the intersex body through the surgery aims to restore the sex-stereotyped ‘harmony’ in compliance with the social binary-normativity. International human rights law has responded to forms of harmful practices which are at the intersection of gender and culture, including female genital mutilation. Equally, gender stereotyping is considered wrongful where societal norms based on stereotypical sex beliefs result in a violation of human rights (of women). Yet the law is silent on the gendered binary-normativity underpinning intersex-targeting abuses. The failure to address the binary-normative rationale of the violation stems from the traditional metonymic (gender=women), dualistic (male/female) and asymmetrical (male>female) approach to gender incorporated in international human rights law.

Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

Over the last few years, many international institutions have called upon states to stop medical sexing interventions upon intersex children, also known as ‘normalising’ surgeries. Intersex rights are increasingly recognised under international human rights law from the perspective of the rights of children, women, persons with disabilities, and as forms of torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment. In absence of a comprehensive human rights conceptualisation, I propose a gender analysis of medical sexing interventions, which would capture the socially and culturally-engrained grounds of the violation. The physically diverse intersex features seem to challenge the cultural norms which define sex/gender in dichotomous terms in the West. Surgeries are therefore performed on individuals born with sex characteristics which do not conform to the typical male or female anatomy. The reconstruction of the intersex body through the surgery aims to restore the sex-stereotyped ‘harmony’ in compliance with the social binary-normativity. International human rights law has responded to forms of harmful practices which are at the intersection of gender and culture, including female genital mutilation. Equally, gender stereotyping is considered wrongful where societal norms based on stereotypical sex beliefs result in a violation of human rights (of women). Yet the law is silent on the gendered binary-normativity underpinning intersex-targeting abuses. The failure to address the binary-normative rationale of the violation stems from the traditional metonymic (gender=women), dualistic (male/female) and asymmetrical (male>female) approach to gender incorporated in international human rights law.


Location:
Sala del Torrino - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization
Department of Law

Type:
Working group

Organiser:
International Law Working Group
LGBTIQ Working group

Speaker:
Giovanna Gilleri (EUI - Law Department)

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