Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a piece of legislation dubbed the Intersex Education Bill into law. She chose November 8, which has been observed as the Intersex Day of Solidarity by members of the community since 2005. The bill aims to conduct outreach campaigns on behalf of the intersex community, as well as creating a medical advisory council comprised of intersex people.
According to the Intersex Society of North America, an intersex person is somebody who is “born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.” For intersex people that consider themselves part of the queer community, it is prominently represented by the “I” in the LGBTQIA+ acronym.
UES State Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright–who served as the lead sponsor for the bill alongside State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, who represents Manhattan’s West Side–told Straus News that advocates for the intersex community approached her to push for the legislation, and that they had specific demands. One larger goal was making sure that medically unnecessary surgeries are not performed on intersex infants, such as those that remove intersex genitalia.
”The State Department of Health comes up with language that parents would be given whenever they have a child with intersex traits. Some of the biggest offenders [against intersex babies] are urologists and insurance companies, who make money from performing these surgeries right after birth. Very often, when intersex people grow up, they would choose not to have this surgery...but the decision was made for them,” she explained.
She added that the bill was all about “transparency and promoting health. Letting people have a voice and a say.”
Seawright has been involved in advocating for the intersex community for a while now, as she pointed out that she had passed a resolution honoring the Intersex Day of Solidarity last year. “I’m happy to sponsor a resolution again,” she quipped.
She’ll remain busy in other ways. As part of her role as Chair of the People with Disabilities Committee, Seawright told Straus that an upcoming legislative hearing will be a perfect time to tackle workforce shortages in that community. “We’re seeing a drastic shortage of direct service providers, both in group homes and for people with disabilities,” she said.
”Right now, the pay is low. People could go get a job at McDonald’s or Burger King, and make more money than what they’re being paid by the state as a direct supportive professional. We’re hemorrhaging our workforce, and it’s causing a devastating effect on people with disabilities,” she said.
That hearing will be held on December 19 at 250 Broadway.