The order of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights asking the state government to ban medically unnecessary sex change surgeries on intersex infants and ensure their bodily integrity is a reminder of the physical and psychological impairment that the quest for gender identity can lead to. In most cases, the children are too young to give their view, which only increases the risk to their physical and mental integrity. Rights activists have said there are instances where intersex people were treated as disabled and the gender reassignment interventions proved to be irreversible, resulting in long-term complications and disability which can cause wastage of human life. It has also been claimed that most of these surgeries are conducted without prior approval.
The Supreme Court had some years back observed that no one should be forced to undergo medical procedures, including sex reassignment surgeries, sterilisations and hormonal therapy as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender right. The UN Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disability had also observed that governments should take measures to prevent sex normalising surgeries to secure the wellbeing of such people. While the Delhi government has constituted a committee to look at the issue, it will also need the attention of the medical regulatory bodies.
The question of gender equality has been raised from time to time with varied responses. People without a hetero-normal sexual orientation have faced discrimination, abuse and stigma causing immense suffering. In 2018, the Supreme Court had struck down Section 377 of the IPC on same-sex relations. Efforts have been made, like at Panjab University, where a column for the third gender was introduced in the admission form, besides providing other facilities for them. But there have been unsavoury controversies like in the case of athlete Pinki Pramanik. Biological aberrations invite social reactions which can complicate matters. Individual choices apart, attempts should be made to ensure the social and economic wellbeing of such people, and most importantly, ensure their acceptance.