Intersex Variations, Human Rights, and the International Classification of Diseases.

Health Hum Rights. 2018 Dec;20(2):205-214.

Intersex Variations, Human Rights, and the International Classification of Diseases.

Carpenter M1.

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Abstract

Over time, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reviewed and removed pathologizing classifications and codes associated with sexual and gender minorities from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). However, classifications associated with intersex variations, congenital variations in sex characteristics or differences of sex development, remain pathologized. The ICD-11 introduces additional and pathologizing normative language to describe these as "disorders of sex development." Current materials in the ICD-11 Foundation also specify, or are associated with, unnecessary medical procedures that fail to meet human rights norms documented by the WHO itself and Treaty Monitoring Bodies. This includes codes that require genitoplasties and gonadectomies associated with gender assignment, where either masculinizing or feminizing surgery is specified depending upon technical and heteronormative expectations for surgical outcomes. Such interventions lack evidence. Human rights defenders and institutions regard these interventions as harmful practices and violations of rights to bodily integrity, non-discrimination, equality before the law, privacy, and freedom from torture, ill-treatment, and experimentation. WHO should modify ICD-11 codes by introducing neutral terminology and by ensuring that all relevant codes do not specify practices that violate human rights.