The government is asking people with variations in sex characteristics to tell them about their personal experiences and what can be done to improve their lives.
Variations in sex characteristics (VSC), sometimes referred to as “intersex” or “differences in sex development”, is an umbrella term used to describe physical sex development which differs from what is generally expected of males or females.
Although the “call for evidence” is open to anyone with information on the needs of people with these variations, the government is particularly interested in the experiences of those with naturally occurring variations. These may be chromosomal, gonadal, anatomical or hormonal.
Depending on the individual case, these differences may be visible at birth or untraceable until puberty, or even later in life. Research from clinical experts suggests the number of people born with atypical genitalia may be as high as one in 300 births, but the birth prevalence of a condition that may lead to true genital ambiguity on expert examination may be as low as one in 5000 births.
The call for evidence or information is therefore aimed at VSC individuals, their parents, carers, and legal guardians, and professionals and service providers, giving them the opportunity to share their views and experiences on:
- Terminology – the terms people prefer using to describe having variations in sex characteristics
- Healthcare – how decisions are made around medical interventions and how healthcare services could be improved
- Education – how people with variations in sex characteristics experience school and how the education system could be improved
- Support services – what support, if any, affected individuals and their families receive and how support services could be improved
- Issues faced in day to day life – people’s experiences of being in the workplace, of claiming benefits and using sport and leisure services
- Sex assignment, birth registration and correcting birth certificates – whether people have changed their birth certificate if the sex was incorrectly assigned at birth and parent’s experiences of registering a child’s birth
Matthew Pull of Thompsons Solicitors commented: "We are pleased to see that the experiences of those with variations in sex characteristics are being acknowledged by this government. We hope this will lead to better policies and a commitment to improving the quality of life of those who currently do not feel their needs are being met. Ultimately however, we have to wait and see if this pushes forward proper action from the government on the subject before we make any judgments."
To read the call for evidence (which closes on 28 March) in detail, go to the government website.