But some doctors and bioethicists argue that calling intersex surgeries “torture” could end up doing more harm than good for kids born with ambiguous genitalia.

This week the United Nations convened its first meeting to address the issue of human rights violations against people with ambiguous genitalia, also known as intersex.

The UN Human Rights Council meeting, held in Geneva, builds off a 2013 report by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture calling on the world’s nations to outlaw “genital normalizing” surgeries on intersex individuals.

This week’s meeting also discussed human rights violations such as infanticide and widespread discrimination that occur against intersex people around the world. But the issue of how to end the practice of intersex surgeries was front and center.

“Too many people assume, without really thinking about it, that everyone can be fitted into two distinct and mutually exclusive categories: male or female,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his opening remarks.

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