PRESS RELEASE - Feb. 6, 2008
Organisation Intersex International
Congratulations to Christiane Völling
The Organisation Intersex International congratulates Christiane Völling the German intersex woman who sued a surgeon for damages. Today the Cologne Regional Court ruled that her ovaries and uterus were removed over 30 years ago without her informed consent.
This verdict further justifies OII's position that present-day medical treatment of intersex infants and children needs to be reexamined and changes are needed so that not only the physical integrity of the child is not violated but also in such a manner as to respect the child's inalienable right to be accepted as the sex they feel most appropriate.
Current medical treatment recommends early surgical and hormonal intervention, which is often irreversible, in order to assign a sex without consultation with the individual concerned.
Society, the law and medicine need to respect the human rights of all intersex children and in order to do this changes must be made which reflect the biological facts that all people are not born male or female and that some people will not accept their early sex assignment and that others will not accept either a male or female assignment which they also feel is a violation of their human rights.
Christiane Völling's case did highlight a problem regarding legal sex definitions in which the judgment in her favor was based on her being defined as "essentially female" using genetic and anatomical markers. It appears that had she been treated the same way by the surgeon but had Swyers Syndrome for example (46 XY) and had her uterus been removed in the same manner then the Judge in the case may not have ruled in her favor. If the arbitrary use of biological markers remains, these medical violations of intersex people will sadly continue without challenge. It is our view that this should not be a debate about legal or medical markers of sex and fitting people into those categories, but about the integrity of the whole individual, and the rights of that individual to have their integrity both physically and mentally protected from societal, legal and medical violation.
We appreciate Christiane's courage and willingness to defend herself with such dignity and we wish her a long and happy life. We hope that this case will help heal the damage done to many intersex people worldwide and that society at large will make a place for us and treat us with the human dignity most other members of society enjoy.
Curtis E. Hinkle
Founder, Organisation Intersex International
For more information about Christiane Völling's lawsuit: