07 August 2018

Beyond the Binary

The Australian Human Rights Commission is conducting a project that considers
how best to protect the human rights of people born with variations in sex characteristics — in the specific context of non-consensual medical interventions.
There are currently no Australian national guidelines or legislation regarding what the Commission characterises as "the management of people born with variations in sex characteristics in Australia". Legal scholars and some of those people might respectfully suggest that "management" is an inappropriate term.

The Commission states
 The aims of the project are to:
  • identify key issues and obtain perspectives on current practice by consulting with various stakeholders, including individuals born with variations in sex characteristics, advocacy groups, medical professionals and representatives from federal, state and territory governments 
  • evaluate the current approaches taken to medical interventions in Australia and other jurisdictions using a human rights-based framework 
  • develop recommendations for a nationally consistent human-rights based approach to decision-making about medical interventions.
For this inquiry, the Commission uses the term ‘people born with variations in sex characteristics’ to refer to people born with bodies that do not align with medical norms for female or male bodies. This can include variations in sex chromosomes, hormones, reproductive organs and/or sexual anatomy. ‘Intersex’ is another term used to describe this population.