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)

“Frankly, we are sick and tired of being lied to and being fobbed off with the same old denials, excuses and cheap promises”

«A Gonad For A Gonad, A Lust Organ For A Lust Organ» - Garry L. Warne (left) at the main entrance of '3rd EuroDSD Symposium', Lübeck 20.5.11 “3rd EuroDSD Symposium” Lübeck, May 21, 2011    –> Open Letter
(Center: Garry L. Warne, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne)

For 60 years now, the practice of cosmetic genital surgeries on little children with “atypical” genitals continues. In all these years and decades, the endocrinologists, surgeons and other clinicians responsible for these surgeries couldn’t be bothered to gather evidence for the alledged beneficience of these surgeries, or even to do consistent follow-ups or only disclose statistics, but continue to operate on mere anecdotal evidence.

For 20 years now, survivors of these surgeries oppose them publicly, and consistently criticise them as “immensely destructive of sexual sensation and of the sense of bodily integrity”. For 20 years now, the clinicians concerned refuse to listen, let alone acknowledge these grave concerns.

“There is a serious ethical problem here: risky surgeries are being performed as standard care and are not being adequately followed-up. Intersexuals are understandably tired of hearing that ‘long-term follow-up data is needed’ while the surgeries continued to occur.”

There are also many reports and statements by Human Rights Advocacy Groups (e.g. Terre des Femmes 2004, CEDAW 2009, Amnesty Germany and Amnesty Switzerland 2010) and publications by experts in these fields (e.g. Hanny Lightfoot-Klein 2003, Fana Asefaw 2005, Nancy Ehrenreich/Mark Barr 2005) clearly stating that non-consented cosmetic surgeries on children gravely violate human rights (particularly the Right to Physical Integrity) and who underline the similarities and parallels between these surgeries and the practice of female genital mutilations.

>>> Full Text: Open Letter of Concern to “3rd EuroDSD Symposium – From Gene to Gender” ( 

1950: From Experimentation to Extermination (Lawson Wilkins 1)

“STOP Genital Mutilation in Children’s Clinics!” – St. Gallen, February 6, 2011

In 1950, the US-endocrinologist Lawson Wilkins introduced systematic cosmetic surgeries on children with “atypical genitals” at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore. Staying at Johns Hopkins at that time, visiting Swiss endocrinologist Andrea von Prader introduced this practice in Europe after his return to Zurich in the same year. In 1955, the now infamous sexologist John Money published a justifying theory after the fact, declaring early cosmetic surgeries as (pseudo) standard.

Since the late 1950s, medical guidelines around the globe have been recommending children born with “atypical genitals” a.k.a. “Hermaphrodites/Intersexed/DSD patients” to be surgically “corrected” preferably within the first 18 months of their lives. According to the classic surgeons’ motto “It’s easier to dig a hole than to build a pole”, most of them are “made to girls”, although in the meantime urologists increasingly indulge in the “challenge of masculinization”.

Today, according to studies by the mutilators themselves, at least 90% of the population born with “indeterminate” or otherwise “unusual” sex anatomies were (and still are!) submitted to on average multiple medically unnecessary genital surgeries starting in early childhood, resulting in appallingly high risk of lifelong loss of genital sensation, physical pain and massive psychological traumata.

The cosmetic “treatments” include:

  • “corrective surgery”, e.g. amputation of the penis/clitoris a.k.a. “clitoral reduction”; “penile recostruction”; “hypospadias repair”; etc.
  • carving an artificial “neo-vagina” which has to be dilated permanently
  • castration, followed by lifelong hormone “therapy”
  • pre-natal hormone “therapy” (introduced in the late 1970s)
  • concealing the truth from the “patients”

What these systematic non-consented surgeries actually do FEEL like for the “patients”, was never part of the equation, let alone their alleged “benefits” clinically tested. Adult “patients” were simply left behind by the hundreds of thousands.

Arguably, the continuing forced “medical treatments” of children with “atypical” genitals are one of the worst human rights violation perpetrated in the “developed countries” since the end of World War II.

>>> Full Text: Hermaphrodites in the “Developed World”: Extermination by Surgery vs. Struggle for Human Rights – Victims of Modernity – 1950: From Experimentation to Extermination – A Human Rights Issue! 

See also:
Lawson Wilkins: “Amputation of the clitoris at the earliest possible time”
to prevent “anxiety in parents” (2)
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)

Petition to end genital mutilations in children’s clinics

CEDAW #43 To End Forced Genital Surgeries Now!Advocates for Informed Choice (AIC) has an online petition ready to sign. Though the main angle is genital surgeries on girls with ‘too big’ clitorises, via footnote (3) the petition covers all forms of mutilations of children with ‘atypical genitals’, including ‘hypospadias corrections’.

>>> Please sign the petition here!

Thank you for your solidarity!

Open Letter to ‘Transgender and Intersex’ International Conference, Dresden 18.-20.1.2012

[…] As “leading scientists in intersex research” (Press Release 9.1.12), surely you are well informed

• that at least one in thousand children are born with “atypical” genitalia, and that according to studies by the doctors themselves, 90% of these children are submitted to “corrective” cosmetic surgeries, without an actual medical need

• that survivors of such surgeries have been denouncing them as “immensely destructive of sexual sensation and of the sense of bodily integrity”, as “western genital mutilation”, “medical crime” and “fundamental human rights violation”

• that stopping cosmetic genital surgery for children remains the first demand of virtually all organisations of survivors from the beginning until today.

[…] The human rights advocacy group is deeply concerned that, at an international & interdisciplinary conference sporting the notions “Intersex” and “Society” in its title, of all things the daily genital mutilations, as well as the voices and concerns of the actual survivors, seem to be disregarded.

In the name of people afflicted or threatened by childhood cosmetic genital surgery, we kindly ask the organisers, speakers and participants to let us know:

1) Are you informed, which institutions directly or indirectly involved in the conference, perform a) which and b) how many cosmetic genital surgeries on children? […]   >>> Fulltext 

Intersex Genital Mutilations “in the Name of Science”

“11th EMBL/EMBO Conference” Heidelberg, November 6, 2010    –> Open Letter

The history of the sciences of sex, gender and sexual differentiation, including amongst other disciplines, biology, endocrinology, genetics, sexology and gender studies, is inextricably intertwined with the history of the medical crimes committed on hermaphrodites (1).

In the last decade, criticism of abuse of hermaphrodites in the name of scientific theories and research started to emerge by the people concerned, aimed mostly at the new discipline of gender studies (2). In the meantime, this criticism is becoming a topic further explored by criticised themselves, however, up to now still considerably hindered presumably by blind spots of the ‚gender lens‘.

On the other hand, detailed criticism aimed at the ‚hard science‘ disciplines seems almost non existent, let alone empathy from the scientists concerned, despite the obvious and close bi-directional relations, i.e. both with regards to the ongoing medical crimes against hermaphrodites and the published data thereof being part of the foundation of these disciplines, as well as new findings within these ‚purely scientific‘ disciplines inevitably being used by the actual perpetrators to justify and perpetuate their bloody deeds.

No one will ever know, how many lives of innocent hermaphrodite children were irreversibly ruined or even lost by medical crimes in the name of science, how many suffered from mutilated and butchered genitals, loss of sexual sensation, constant pain, horrific scars, massive trauma, suicide, to name just some of most obvious consequences.

>>> Full Text: Open Letter of Concern to 11th EMBL/EMBO Science and Society Conference ‘The Difference between the Sexes – From Biology to Behaviour’ (