Fri, Jun 15, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Control Yuan shines light on intersex rights

By Chung Li-hua and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The front entrance of the Control Yuan in Taipei is pictured on Sunday.

Photo: Chung Li-hua, Taipei Times

Control Yuan members yesterday reprimanded the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of the Interior for failing to protect the rights of intersex people.

Between 0.05 and 1.7 percent of the population is born with intersex traits, Control Yuan Vice President Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川) and Control Yuan member Gau Fehng-shian (高鳳仙) said in a report, citing UN statistics.

Based on the upper estimate, there might be 400,000 intersex people in Taiwan, they said.

The ministries have gathered no significant data on the intersex population and have never taken measures to conduct studies on the community, Sun said, adding that they have “ignored the existence of intersex people.”

They have turned a blind eye to the challenges that intersex people face — such as having a gender registered to them at birth and undergoing unnecessary surgery — let alone push for policies, he said.

The ministries’ behavior has already constituted a violation of human rights and is not in line with the principle of equality stated in Article 7 of the Constitution and the spirit of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, he said.

Due to pressure on parents to register births and insufficient medical guidelines, intersex children often undergo “normalizing” surgery too early, Sun and Gau said in their report.

The health ministry has not aided the families of intersex children by setting medical guidelines or providing them with parental handbooks, the report said, adding that this inaction might result in unnecessary surgeries and violate the rights to health and autonomy of intersex children.

For intersex people with needs that were present at birth, the National Health Insurance system’s lack of coverage for gender reassignment surgery violates the principle of equality, Gau said.

In some cases, intersex people pay for hormonal therapy out-of-pocket, she said, adding that it is also difficult for intersex people to find medical specialists.

These issues are disadvantageous to the health and care of intersex people and their right to national insurance, she said, adding that there should be research and discussion with the goal of amending the law.

As the interior ministry is redesigning its national identification card, the two urged the government to either add a third gender classification or explore other ways to specify intersex gender on the card.

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