Asking to meet OHCHR representative re: Intersex Genital Mutilations
Human Rights for Hermaphrodites Too!

Subject: Asking to meet OHCHR representative re: Intersex Genital Mutilations

Dear Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

Delegates of the European human rights group and of the US based organisation Advocates for Informed Choice (AIC) will be attending the 22th UNHRC session, regarding the SRT’s report A/HRC/22/53 on Monday March 4th, and a related side event on Tuesday March 5th.

On this occasion we would like to ask if we could meet with a representative of the OHCHR to elaborate on our concerns, and to offer our future assistance.

Preferable times for us to meet would be Tuesday morning or noon, march 5th, or Monday late afternoon after 4 pm, march 4th. From our side we would be 2-4 delegates attending.

Our organisation’s fields of interest and expertise are

a) generally human rights violations against children and adults born with atypical sex anatomy, or medically speaking children and adults diagnosed a.o. with intersex conditions or Disorders of Sex Development/DSD, already mentioned by OHCHR a.o. in A/HRC/19/41 (para 57), and

b) specifically the concerned children’s submission to — in the wording of the SRT’s report A/HRC/22/53 (para 76, 77) — “forced genital-normalizing surgeries … performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, ‘in an attempt to fix their sex’,  … [that] are rarely medically necessary, can cause scarring, loss of sexual sensation, pain, incontinence and lifelong depression and have also been criticized as being unscientific, potentially harmful and contributing to stigma”, and furthermore “involuntary sterilization … leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering”.

Members of and AIC have contributed a.o. to the german CEDAW Shadow Report 2008, the Swiss NGO Coalition’s UPR Shadow Report 2012, and entered solicited testimonies to the WHO regarding the upcoming statement on sterilization, and the current report of the SRT regarding abuses in health care settings.

We apologize for the short notice and hope you will find time to meet and talk with us.

Kind regards

Daniela Truffer, Markus Bauer /

Markus Bauer Mobile +41 (0)78 829 12 60
Daniela Truffer Mobile +41 (0)76 398 06 50
P.O.B. 2122
CH-8031 Zurich

Intersex Genital Mutilation: ‘Groundbreaking’ Report by Swiss National Ethics Commission

The Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics has published a much lauded paper titled ‘On the management of differences of sex development. Ethical issues relating to “intersexuality”‘.
>>> Download in English (PDF) 
>>> German  >>> French  >>> Italian

The report comes after 5 years of political initiatives initiated by, first in state parliaments and thereafter in the federal parliament, always adamant on including multiple members of parliament and covering the entire political spectrum. As a direct result of the federal interpellation in 2011, the Swiss Federal Government requested the National Ethics Commission to write a report, which was recently published. In the introduction, the Commission acknowledged that it is “largely thanks to the efforts of self-help/advocacy groups” that “increasing attention is now being paid to the topic of “intersexuality” in the media and in professional circles – including the fields of medical law and ethics – both nationally and internationally.” as well as the Swiss parents’ self-help group participated in hearings of the commission. As Daniela Truffer ( said in her adress on occasion of the presentation of the report: “This is the very first time [in Switzerland], that an official body took the persons affected seriously, listened to their concerns and translated them into concrete recommendations.” The pragmatic report was also met with applause internationally, e.g. OII Australia called it ‘ground-breaking’ and German scholar Heinz-Jürgen Voß titled ‘Short, knowledgeable, largely clear’. We were also told by multiple persons concerned that they actually wept while reading the report because they were so moved by its contents.

Highlights of the Commission’s recommendations include (p. 18-20):

1. The suffering experienced by some people with DSD as a result of past practice should be acknowledged by society. The medical practice of the time was guided by sociocultural values which, from today’s ethical viewpoint, are not compatible with fundamental human rights, specifically respect for physical and psychological integrity and the right to self-determination.

4. Protection of the child’s integrity is essential. Given the uncertainties and imponderables involved, a psychosocial indication cannot in itself justify irreversible genital sex assignment surgery in a child who lacks capacity.

11. In a case of DSD, it must be possible for the sex recorded in the official registration of births to be unbureaucratically amended. […]

12. There should be a legal review of the liability implications of unlawful interventions in childhood, and of the associated limitation periods. Questions of criminal law, such as the applicability of offences of assault (Art. 122 and 123, StGB) and the prohibition on genital mutilation (Art. 124, StGB), should also be investigated.

We have no illusions that this report is only a first step, although a significant one. However, unless these recommendations are now translated into political actions and finally legislation, it’s obvious that the status quo of unabashed intersex genital mutilations in our children’s clinics is bound to continue …

>>> Full Report in English (PDF)  >>> German  >>> French  >>> Italian

“My childhood was filled with pain, surgery, skin grafts, and isolation”

Tiger Devore: “Growing up in the Surgical Maelstrom”

Tiger Howard Devore, PhDI spent many years in surgery whose purpose was to make me pee at the end of my penis [‘Hypospadias Repair’]. I’ve had sixteen surgeries on my genitals, and they performed ten operations by age ten, pretty regularly once a year. If they had just left my urinary meatus [pee-hole] where it was, at the base of my penis right by the scrotum, I could have avoided at least twelve of those surgeries.

My childhood was filled with pain, surgery, skin grafts, and isolation. I remember when school vacation came, the other kids went somewhere fun. I went to the hospital during vacation, so I wouldn’t miss too much school. When vacation was over, I would return to school, often not yet healed from the latest surgery. Sometimes I went back to school with tubes coming out of me, and stitches and scars, and I couldn’t walk well.

Each year they performed surgery on me, and I watched and felt how rapidly the surgery would break down each time. They couldn’t have missed it, either—there’s no reason for some of the work that they did on me outside of arrogance or incompetence.

The tube that most men pee through is not made of skin, it’s made of a special kind of tissue that can handle contact with urine, and be continuously moist and warm without breaking down or becoming infected. The tubes that they made for me out of skin from other parts of my body broke down over and over, and I regularly get bladder infections. And I still have to sit to pee. I have never been without fistulae [holes in the penis where the surgery has broken down], and I’ve had the entire tube replaced twice, with large skin grafts. If they had just let me pee sitting down, neither I nor my family would have had to suffer all of that—the expense, the pain, the repeated surgeries, the drugs, the repeated tissue breakdowns and urine leaks. It would have been just fine to have a penis that peed out of the bottom instead of the top, and didn’t have the feeling damaged.

>>> Full Text:Tiger Howard Devore: “Growing up in the Surgical Maelstrom” (ISNA) 
• Also in: Hanny Lightfoot-Klein: Children’s Genitals Under the Knife, p 172-175
• Also in: A. Dreger (Ed): Intersex in the Age of Ethics, p 79-82
Tiger Devore’s Homepage

VIDEO 2 ‘Unnecessary & harmful’ – IGM Type 1: ‘Hypospadias Repair’ – Tiger Devore
VIDEO 1 Tiger Devore talks IGM Type 1, Part1/4: ‘Clitoral Cutting vs. Hypospadias Repair’
Open Letter of Concern to ‘6th ISHID Hypospadias Workshop’ and affiliated Clinics
>>> Intersex Protests vs. ‘6th I$HID Hypo Live Mutilation Workshop’, 21.-24.06.2015

>>> Honouring Tiger @ Protests vs. ‘D$Dnet’, 10.06.2015 

Christiane Völling: Hermaphrodite wins Damage Claim over Removal of Reproductive Organs

Rally on occasion of 1st day in “Zwitter Lawsuit”, Cologne, 12.12.2007
(L.t.r.: Elisabeth Müller, Daniela “Nella” Truffer, Katrin Ann Kunze †, Christiane Völling)

Christiane Völling was the first, and as far as we know only, survivor to successfully sue her mutilator. (In all other cases we know of a lawsuits were made impossible because of the statue of limitations.)

Cologne – A surgeon was ordered to pay 100,000 euros (141,500 dollars) in compensation on Wednesday for performing an operation converting a hermaphrodite into a man without consent more than 30 years ago.

Claimant Christiane Völling, who was born without defining gender characteristics, was 18 years old when her reproductive organs were surgically removed without prior information or consent.

Christiane Völling, now aged 50, had described years of suffering after the operation, including physical impairments, pain and psychological problems. During the trial, seen as setting a precedent, while she demanded ‘at least’ 100,000 euros in compensation, she said she mostly sought ‘moral recompense.’

>>> Full Text: Christiane Völling: Hermaphrodite wins damage claim over removal of reproductive organs (DPA) 

Open Letter of Concern to ESPE 2012, Leipzig 20.-23.09.12

[…] Furthermore, we are deeply saddened to learn that the dissemination of systematic cosmetic amputations or excisions of clitorises considered ‘too big’ on children in europe is  inextricably linked to both ESPE as a society from its very beginning as well as to prominent individual members like e.g. Andrea Prader or Jürgen Bierich, and that they both are praised and immortalized by scientific prizes bearing their names given out in part by ESPE, despite the fact that e.g. the latter stubbornly advocated clitoral excisions on the basis of ‘scientific proof’ that the removal of a functioning clitoris would cause ‘no harm’ to the persons ability of experiencing orgasms. [1] While we recognise the medical achievements of both ESPE and its members, we feel it is intolerable to not also acknowledge their errors and the lifelong suffering they caused to the people concerned. We feel it is long overdue for ESPE to start a process of coming to terms with the past in order to be able to working towards a better future not tarred by unnecessary suffering and grave human rights violations. […]    >>> Fulltext 

Call for support UNHRC Hearing Re: Intersex Genital Mutilations, October 29, 2012 on Facebook

Dear fellow campaigners, allies and friends

Next week, the UN Human Rights Council will debate Intersex Genital Mutilations, on occasion of the Universal Periodic Review of Switzerland during the 14th UPR Session in Geneva, and on the basis of our submission within the Swiss Coalition Shadow Report (see and fact sheet below).

Below you’ll find our mailing to all of the UNHRC Missions in Geneva, accompanied by our fact sheet re: Western Genital Mutilation [>>> PDF 75 kb].

We ask if you and/or your group could contact your country’s UN Mission in Geneva and/or other appropriate bodies, seconding our submission/mailing/fact sheet, and ask them to also recommend that Switzerland should take appropriate steps in order to end this grave human rights violation. This will also benefit intersex submissions from other countries already in the pipeline for future UPR sessions. Feel free to ask your allies to do the same.

You’ll find the details of your country’s mission here:

Please help us to end intersex genital mutilations! Time is of essence!

In case of questions, please get in touch.

Feel free to redistribute this email.

Thank you for your support!

Kind regards

Daniela Truffer, Markus Bauer /

‘Intersex Genital Mutilations: History & Current Practice’

>>> Download (PDF, 2.4 MB)   [ TRIGGER WARNING!!! ]

STOP IGM Primer:
What everyone should know about Intersex Genital Mutilations (IGM)!

>>> Download (PDF, 1.95 MB)     



F A C T   S H E E T    >>> PDF (75 kb)

Western Genital Mutilation a.k.a. Cosmetic Genital Surgery performed on Children
Switzerland 14th Universal Periodic Review 2012

Clitoris amputations and other cosmetic “genital corrections” in children’s clinics

Clitoris amputations on young girls have been prevalent in western medicine since the 19th century as therapy for a) masturbation, b) hysteria, and c) “enlarged clitoris”. While amputations motivated by a) and b) had been abandoned between 1900 and 1945, amputations of “enlarged clitorises” took a sharp rise after 1950 and became de facto medical standard on newborns in the 1960s, partly in combination with gonadectomies (castrations). Doctors argued, these amputations would not affect the ability to achieve orgasm. However, in the 1980s they switched to new techniques involving only partial removal of the clitoris, allegedly now preserving sexual sensation. In addition, a new trend emerged towards “masculinizing surgeries”. Since the 1990s, the persons concerned denounce all of these surgeries as “immensely destructive of sexual sensation”, as western genital mutilation, and as violation of their right to physical integrity and self-determination. 2011, UN-CAT criticized cosmetic “genital corrections” and recommended  investigations into the practice (CAT/C/DEU/CO/5 [>>> PDF, 474 kb], point 20. “Intersex people”, p. 6-7).

14th Universal Periodic Review

In 2012 for the first time an NGO of persons concerned and supporters from Switzerland,, is asking the Human Rights Council for help in order to abolish these harmful practices. See issue 18 from Swiss NGO Coalition’s Submission (p. 9):

18. Cosmetic genital surgery performed on children

About 1 child in 1000 is born with “inconclusive“ physical sexual characteristics (hermaphrodism, intersex, disorders of sex development). Such children are very frequently operated on “for cosmetic reasons” at a baby age. Those affected often see these operations as unwanted surgery without medical necessity and evidence. Furthermore, such interventions represent an infringement to the right to physical integrity and self-determination.


Switzerland should establish a commission to deal with the issues of those affected by the consequences of cosmetic genital surgery in an unbiased and fair manner.

In the name of the persons concerned, we petition the members of the Human Rights Council to consider their pleas and to help forcing the Swiss government to abandon mutilating cosmetic surgeries on defenseless children.

Daniela Truffer, person concerned and founding member of
Mobile +41 76 398 06 50


STOP IGM Primer:
What everyone should know about Intersex Genital Mutilations (IGM)!

>>> Download (PDF, 1.95 MB)

‘Intersex Genital Mutilations: History & Current Practice’

>>> Download (PDF, 2.4 MB)   [ TRIGGER WARNING!!! ]

Open Letter to ’51st Annual Meeting of ESPE’ 2012
Open Letter to ‘3rd EuroDSD Symposium’ 2011
Open Letter to ’11th EMBL/EMBO Conference’ 2010


Subject: Swiss UPR: Genital Mutilation in Children’s Clinics in Switzerland
To: UNHRC Missions in Geneva
From: Daniela Truffer

Dear Madams and Sirs

I’m asking you for your support to end a grave human rights violation in Switzerland, on behalf of our human rights group, representing affected persons, and contributor to the Swiss NGO Coalition Shadow Report, where we outlined our grievances re: cosmetic genital surgeries on children with “atypical genitals” (see fact sheet below and attached).

I was submitted to repeated “genital corrections” myself, as well as to “gonadectomy” (castration/forced sterilisation) and other degrading treatments, about which my parents were lied to, and can testify to the detrimental effects of these irreversible and serious surgeries, also on sexual sensation.

The Swiss government, while quickly to condemn genital cutting in african countries, still refuses to acknowledge the human rights violations perpetrated in local children’s hospitals, let alone setting their own house in order. Despite the fact that recently also the UN Committee on Torture (CAT) criticised the cosmetic genital surgeries on children (see fact sheet).

Please help us, in the name of the future children, so that they can grow up intact and without mutilating surgeries and other degrading “treatments”! Please confront the Swiss government with our grievances, and demand they take appropriate steps!

In case of further questions, as well as suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you so much for your consideration.

Kind regards

Daniela Truffer /

Mobile +41 76 398 06 50

STOP IGM Primer:
What everyone should know about Intersex Genital Mutilations (IGM)!

>>> Download (PDF, 1.95 MB)

‘Intersex Genital Mutilations: History & Current Practice’

>>> Download (PDF, 2.4 MB)   [ TRIGGER WARNING!!! ]

Open Letter to ’51st Annual Meeting of ESPE’ 2012
Open Letter to ‘3rd EuroDSD Symposium’ 2011
Open Letter to ’11th EMBL/EMBO Conference’ 2010

Lawson Wilkins, 1950: “Amputation of the clitoris at the earliest possible time” to prevent “anxiety in parents” – “already existing tradition of clitorectomies” at Johns Hopkins University Hospital “persisting” under Wilkins and Money (2)

Excerpts from: Sandra Eder: “The Volatility of Sex: Intersexuality, Gender and Clinical Practice in the 1950s”, in: Gender & History, Vol. 22 No. 3 November 2010, pp. 692–707.

Throughout the records, children’s sexuality caused a high level of anxiety in parents, especially as they feared psychological problems.

In girls, special attention was paid to the enlarged clitoris, and surgical reduction or amputation was the usual intervention. Surgeons at Hopkins performed clitorectomies on CAH children who were raised as girls, a procedure that was neither discussed nor questioned in the patient records. (53) In the sixteen cases in my sample where ‘enlarged clitoris’ was listed as one of the complaints, surgeons performed a clitorectomy at the earliest possible time after admission on all but one patient. Hopkins seemed to have had an already existing tradition of clitorectomies that persisted through the introduction of cortisone [by Lawson Wilkins] and Money’s gender concept. (54)

As with boys, a major concern for physicians and parents was frequent erections of large clitorises and masturbation. Physicians regularly inquired after such behaviour and often parents addressed it themselves. This resonates with a longer medical tradition to cure masturbation (and insanity) through clitoral surgery. (55) At the Hopkins clinic, this tradition was combined with the social concern that psychological difficulties might arise from growing up as a girl with an enlarged clitoris or phallus; it would raise doubts concerning her sex and trouble her gender role. Psychological adjustment justified depriving ‘a patient of what some authorities have declared the most significant erotic zone in the female’. (56) Again, the body was thought to be more flexible than a child’s gender role. Clearly, an enlarged clitoris initially was more upsetting to parents and physicians than to the children themselves. (57) [pp. 700-701]

Clearly, CAH’s sexual symptoms, such as ‘virilised’ genitals in girls and precocious genitals in boys, caused anxieties in parents and physicians. Medical/surgical intervention provided a solution to a social problem of ambiguous or precocious sex. [p. 704]

The Hopkins protocols, as the publications that resulted from Money’s study became known, created a sense of emergency that encouraged physicians to assign sex quickly and to alter the body surgically in order to achieve psychological healthiness in children with intersexual conditions. (12) The ethics of these medical interventions have been criticised extensively, as adult patients started challenging the irreversible surgery and culture of secrecy and shame that had permeated their treatment. (13) Money’s thesis that gender was learned was quickly replaced by more biological determinant theories. (14) Nevertheless, the practice of early surgical intervention continues to this day. [p. 693]

Note: These 3 excerpts contain all paragraphs regarding clitoral surgery i.e. amputation of the clitoris within the 13 pages text, which is – surprise, surprise! – exclusively centered around questions of “gender”, and does NOT discuss ethics and human rights considerations. 20 years of survivors bearing witness to harmful, non-consensual, purely cosmetic genital surgeries are mentioned exactly once in just 1 single sentence (quoted also above):

“The ethics of these medical interventions have been criticised extensively, as adult patients started challenging the irreversible surgery and culture of secrecy and shame that had permeated their treatment.” (13)

As sources, only scholarly publications are given, but – once again – NO testimonies by survivors themselves – not even by scholarly ones …

NOT once mentioned at all are the various adverse effects of the clitoral surgeries/amputations for the “patients” concerned – an obvious “lack of awareness and attention to the reality of intersex lives [that] biases the presentation of the topic, potentially unintentionally perpetrating the invisibility and objectivation of intersex people” (Koyama/Weasel).

This will not do! “Intersex patients” are human beings with feelings and human rights, who have been greatly wronged by – no matter how well intentioned – unethical “scientists”, “doctors”, and “researchers”, and who are still suffering today. They deserve justice, NOT being served up as guinea pigs for “scientific theories” – again!

>>> Emi Koyama & Lisa Weasel: “From Social Construction to Social Justice” (2002), in:
         “Teaching Intersex Issues. 2nd Ed.” (2003) (PDF, p. 2–9) 

See also:
Lawson Wilkins, Andrea Prader 1950: From Experimentation to Extermination (1) 
Lawson Wilkins et al. (1958, 1971): Cosmetic clitoris amputations (3) on Facebook

Intersex Genital Mutilations
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Sex Anatomy

2014 NGO Report to the UN Committe on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
>>> Download PDF (3.65 MB)     >>>
Table of Contents  

STOP IGM Primer:
What everyone should know about Intersex Genital Mutilations (IGM)!

>>> Download (PDF, 1.95 MB)


UN-Committee against Torture urges Germany to investigate Intersex Genital Mutilations and to compensate Survivors

In its 47th session, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) considered a >>> Shadow Report by Intersexed People in collaboration with Humboldt Law Clinic: Human Rhigts concerning cosmetic genital surgeries on intersexed children.

In its >>> Concluding Observations (PDF), the Committee against Torture criticized especially medically not necessary castrations (unfortunately the only form of cosmetic genital surgeries specifically highlighted in the shadow report) and on pages 6-7 recommended amongst other things, that Germany

(a) Ensure the effective application of legal and medical standards following the best practices of granting informed consent to medical and surgical treatment of intersex people, including full information, orally and in writing, on the suggested treatment, its justification and alternatives;

(b) Undertake investigation of incidents of surgical and other medical treatment of intersex people without effective consent and adopt legal provisions in order to provide redress to the victims of such treatment, including adequate compensation;

This is a big step forward! Hopefully, in the near future all forms of medically not neccessary cosmetic genital surgeries on intersex children will be reorted to UN committees, and considered accordingly.

Intersex (or “inter-sex” and “inter-sexual persons” respectively) were also mentioned in the UN press releases on the review of Germany (Session 1 | Session 2).

Preview: The next the UN-agenda will be Switzerland’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in October 2012, cosmetic genital surgeries will be specifically mentioned in a joint shadow report of 47 Swiss NGOs including In 2013, Germany’s and Switzerland’s follow-up reports on the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) are due, with shadow reports by NGOs pending, as well as the UPRs of Germany, India and other countries.

Call to Sign Open Letter of Concern to ’53rd ESPE 2014′

>>> Dublin Sept 18–20: Peaceful Intersex Protests vs. ’53rd ESPE’ 2014

STOP Intersex Genital Mutilation! on FacebookDear fellow intersex people, friends, and allies

Please find here the >>> Draft of the Open Letter of Concern (PDF) to D$D docs’ ’53rd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology’, and Irish D$D clinics and universities, which we ask intersex people and allies (and their organisations) to sign, and which we will hand over to the addressees on occasion of the peaceful protests starting next Thursday in Dublin (as a follow-up to last year’s Open Letter to ESPE/PES/etc.’s ‘9th Joint Meeting’ in Milan).

HOW TO SIGN: Please send an email to (replace _at_ with @) with your NAME, CITY, COUNTRY, and (if applicable) ORGANISATION so we can add your signature. THANKS!

(In case you want to sign the letter not on behalf of your organisation, but in personal capacity, just add ‘Personal Capacity, Affiliation given for identification purposes only’ behind your name and organisation.)

Feel free to spread this invitation to other parties and individuals concerned! Corrections welcome (please remember English is only our third language).
Please respond quickly! Thanks for adding your signature to let the doctors know that it’s NOT OK to cosmetically alter children’s genitals!

Kind regards

Daniela “Nella” Truffer, Markus Bauer
Founding members human rights NGO

>>> Dublin Sept 18–20: Peaceful Intersex Protests vs. ’53rd ESPE’ 2014 

Intersex Genital Mutilation: America’s Double Standard

Dix Poppas, Weill Cornell University and Medical School

While Americans are outraged at the thought of female genital mutilation in Africa, practices just as shocking and unwelcome have been taking place in the US and have remained behind closed doors for years, performed not by a barber in a dingy backroom, but by a certified doctor in a respected hospital in Manhattan. 

People like Janet Green, born with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, also known as undetermined sex say the choice to operate, made by doctors and parents, was subjective in her personal case, as well as countless others.

Many of these surgeries have no medical necessity. It really is a cosmetic surgery that is done on infants and on children. They were done at the expense of their sensation, at the expense of their not being comfortable with intimacy, so the goal of having us be able to be intimate was really lost,” said Green.

Sex therapist Tiger Devore feels they are victims of medical research.

They have been experimenting on our bodies since the fifties, and they have to stop doing that as quickly as possible, because there are lots and lots, and lots of us telling them – it’s not working”, said the former patient.

Devore said the rate of suicides among young males operated on as children has been sky rocketing. He is now crusading for limiting surgeries to adults able to voice their consent.

>>> Continued: Genital mutilation: America’s double standard (Video + Transcript)