Seawright Intersex Education Bill Signed by Governor

Lead Sponsor Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright today on Intersex Day of Solidarity announced Governor Hochul signed her legislation to require the New York State Department of Health to conduct a public information and outreach campaign on medically unnecessary treatments on persons born with intersex traits or variations in sex characteristics. This is the first statewide law of its kind in the United States.

“I commend Governor Hochul for signing the legislation I sponsored to educate new parents on the unnecessary and often harmful surgeries performed on infants and young children born intersex. This education will be key to helping parents understand that surgery is permanent and can cause irreversible physical and psychological effects. We are proud to have closely worked with impacted communities and advocates using innovative strategies to advocate for the legal and human rights of children with intersex traits. The NYS Health Department will be required to consult with intersex people and advocates in developing these important health outreach materials,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.

The program established by the bill includes an advisory council made up of intersex people, intersex-led organizations, and healthcare providers with demonstrated medical expertise treating intersex individuals in a manner that respects their bodily integrity and self-determination.

“As we recognize Intersex Day of Solidarity, I'm proud to sign new legislation that supports and uplifts this community,” Governor Hochul said. “Every individual in New York deserves to be treated with dignity and respect by our medical system, especially our kids. This new law is a significant step forward to raise awareness of the intersex community and ensure they get informed and compassionate medical care."

Intersex is an umbrella term for differences in sex traits and/or reproductive anatomy. There are over 30 intersex variations, and intersex traits occur in up to 1.7% of the population. This means being intersex is as common as being born with red hair. Intersex is most importantly about biology, not sexuality or gender. Although some intersex people may identify as LGBTQ+, this is additional to their intersexuality. Many intersex youths around the globe are subjected to non- consensual surgeries, including sterilization, to make them fit into a binary. These irreversible harms include scarring, chronic pain, urinary incontinence, loss of sexual sensation and function, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidality, and incorrect gender assignment. These surgeries are classified as human rights violations by the UN.

Erika Lorshbough, Executive Director of InterACT lauded the passage of the legislation in New York, "In passing this legislation, New York lawmakers have sent a clear message in support of the visibility and bodily autonomy of intersex people. Young people with variations in their sex development deserve understanding and the chance to make decisions about their own bodies. We are grateful to Assemblymember Seawright and Senator Hoylman for supporting them."

Amanda Babine, Executive Director of Equality New York said, "Today, Governor Hochul continued to make history by making New York safer for Intersex individuals throughout the state by signing S.5399/A.5627. It’s one of the first policies of its kind here in the country. Even within the LGBTQI+ community, intersex people are often forgotten and left out of legislation and programming. This bill supports and uplifts this community and we couldn’t have done it without our coalition who works year around to pass lifesaving legislation like S.5399/A.5627."

"The intersex education law (S.5399/A.5627) is an important step towards combatting gender stereotypes and affirming bodily autonomy for intersex New Yorkers," said Allie Bohm, senior policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Thanks to the tireless activism of impacted New Yorkers and Sen. Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member

Seawright's leadership, with this new law, our state becomes a more welcoming and affirming place for intersex people, who have faced discrimination, medical bias and social exclusion for far too long.”