Its 2013. We are still years away from equal rights for intersex OR IVF children. Both subjects are HIGHLY SENSITIVE and often dealt with secrecy and lies and also BREAKING the LAWS. In most cultures, it is still TABOO to discuss anything about intersex or IVF/surrogacy. In ways, it reminds us of how we first dealt with HIV/AIDS. There are a lot of rumors, lies, misconceptions that precede any kind of acceptance. I have NO DOUBT that intersex and IVF children and families will ALSO see acceptance and equal rights in the future. But we are living in 2013 – a time of transition for intersex and IVF rights, so lets talk about 2013. We have every sympathy for intersex and let our actions speak for itself, are we allowed to have some rights and sympathy for our IVF children, if NOT EQUAL rights? As an IVF parent, it is offensive to treat IVF children as an after thought with NO respect for their basic human rights and child rights and showing them basic human decency.
Brief Recent Timeline of International Events related to Intersex
1) In late 2000s, IGLHRC, endorsed the inclusion of “I” for Intersex in the LGBTI or GLBTI (Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Intersex) movement for equal rights as mentioned in the Yogyakarta Principles for LGBTI activism.
2) In February 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture called for a STOP to coerced intersex surgeries.
3) In May 2013, a first-ever law suit was filed for a wrongful intersex surgery in South Carolina, USA
4) In June 2013, the US Supreme Court struck down DOMA and opening a path to federal benefits for same-sex marriages in the US. The direct result of this event was US Immigration allows same-sex spouses to legally sponsor their foreign or binational spouse for US Immigration. Same-sex spouses NOW have access to same federal benefits like traditional marriages including social security, healthcare directives, estate planning, income taxes, and thousands of other federal benefits.
5) In 2011, Australia and later New Zealand, started allowing “I” or “O” as an intermediate gender for intersex and transgender on government issued passports and legally recognized the third gender. This is something other Asian countries like India, Nepal have already been doing for years before Australia or New Zealand.
6) In June 2013, Australia started allowing “I” as an intermediate gender or third gender for intersex and transgender when filling out personal documents in addition to Male/Female. India already allows this years before Australia on voter identity cards, Aadhar cards, passports, etc.
The US and most other western countries ONLY recognize two genders which complicates legal issues for intersex and transgender who may wish to be identified differently. It further COMPLICATES legal issues when there is a binational immigrant intersex marriage with IVF children. Is same-sex marriage SAME as intersex marriage? Are US and other western countries playing “catch up” on this social issue? There is a momentum growing for EQUAL LGBTI rights across the world. Do we wait for EQUAL IVF children and families rights?
Regardless of laws for binary or third gender, the IMPORTANT thing to realize is SECRECY and LIES are not the solution. It is better to be HONEST so that you can get LAWS. Change is coming, what if you got started with change without any resources BEFORE the LAWS existed? What if you did ALL this a DECADE ago? What are the SCARS when an individual tries to give HUMAN RIGHTS to a person where LAWS and government itself FALLS SHORT?
Brief Recent Timeline of International Events related to IVF/Surrogacy Children and Families
1) In 2002, India allowed commercial surrogacy leading a BOOM in medical tourism which also spread to other countries later yet there are NO laws to provide relief for victims.
2) In 2009, US immigration laws do not allow a legal immigrant father to bring a child born outside the US without a “US green card mother”. How will gays or single fathers or spouses of intersex bring their IVF child born outside the US? IVF helps infertile or dysfertile people. In an intersex marriage, the infertility is due to the intersex person, should the spouse of intersex NOT have children because LAWS do not support them?
3) In 2009, in a divorce filing in US, there is NO mention of an ongoing IVF pregnancy in India and thus suppressing the facts from the US court. Why is it NOT mandatory to declare an ongoing IVF pregnancy when filing a divorce just like reporting a natural born pregnancy? Is the IVF child LESS of a child than a natural born child? Is that DENYING the rights of an innocent, voiceless IVF child? Why cannot the IVF child get child support if she was born during the “marriage” assuming intersex marriage is legal.
4) In 2011, the Hague setup a committee to specifically address the needs of IVF children and families especially from an international perspective along the same lines as Hague Convention for International Child Abduction and Hague Convention on International Child Adoption. We still do NOT have international LAWS for IVF/Surrogacy children. Is there a loophole being exploited RISKING lives of innocent, voiceless IVF children and victims?
5) If a parent places an “order” for an IVF child in a foreign country and then later decides to change their mind and DOES NOT show up at the time of the birth of the IVF child, what is their responsibility and accountability for the IVF child? Is that endangering the welfare of the child? In a commercial surrogate agreement, bulk of the amount is to be paid upon a successful birth of an IVF child, who pays the surrogate if the parent abandons the IVF pregnancy? What are the RIGHTS of ALL the participants in an IVF pregnancy including the IVF child? As an IVF parent, it is BOTH offensive and disgraceful to treat my IVF child as a bargaining chip. She is FIRST a human being and she deserves basic human decency and respect. Is asking for basic human rights and child rights for your children allowed?
6) By denying ENTRY into the US for an IVF child and effectively denying the federal and state benefits like child support, child welfare, social security, income tax deductions, special protection under child laws, and so on. The benefits that some gay couples have fought for and waited for over 40 years in the US; do we have to repeat it for IVF children/families?
7) US Immigration law requires a “biological link” between a child born outside the US and the sponsoring parent. IVF changes a lot of definitions around “biological link”. There are 8 different ways to assign parentage in an IVF procedure, do the current LAWS capture all scenarios? A sperm sample maybe swapped and thus a DNA test for a “biological link” may fail OR a mother may use an egg and a sperm donor but use her own womb but would have “no biological link” as per prevailing laws. The possibilities go on. The question is what is the best interest of the IVF child? The current language in the law uses words like “child born out of wedlock” for IVF births which is both offensive to the parent and the child. Is it time to get some sensitivity into the legal language? Can we just have it as “child born”? Or are we proposing to call IVF children “bastards” legally and get away with it? As an IVF parent, my IVF child deserves better and the situation created certainly is appalling and denigrates basic human decency of an innocent, voiceless child. If an IVF child is considered born “out of wedlock” as per federal Immigration laws, then was the child born “of the marriage” as per state laws?
8) There are situations which render innocent, voiceless IVF children STATELESS. Is that a crime against humanity? How does a STATELESS IVF child get RELIEF as a victim? When parents are fleeing conflict zones like Syria with their 1 year old daughter who has NO passport, they do NOT apply for a passport for the child to the Syrian government. They just take what they can and flee the country to save their lives and their children’s lives and become STATELESS. Whenever they land in an adjacent country as a refugee, they ask for RELIEF as a VICTIM and get proper identity for themselves and the children from the host country to MOVE ON in life. They DO NOT ask for JUSTICE by suing the Syrian government. Help US MOVE FORWARD.
If the world is about moving on and the future, why should innocent, voiceless IVF brother and sister be DENIED the right to grow up together, hug and kiss together, and so many other great childhood memories. There was EVERY intent to provide a sibling to the older IVF son and after 3 years and several failed IVF attempts, why deliberately ROB rights of innocent, voiceless IVF children?
The most important lesson learnt from being a caregiver of intersex is that parents should NOT teach children to LIE, it has disastrous results as an ADULT. Even if the doctors, medical professionals, trusted advisors, governments, etc teach you to LIE, make every resistance. Secrecy and stigma are the BIGGEST culprits. As a parent, I do NOT want to repeat a life of secrecy and lies for my IVF children and all others like us. We deserve BETTER, if not EQUAL.
It is time to start working FOR IVF children and families and NOT work AT them. We are NOT an after-thought of LGBTI. We are as much victims of secrecy and stigma as the LGBTI people.