Albania has made a historic decision to stop medical interventions at birth in the cases of intersex children.
The Ministry of Health has approved a protocol for the Evaluation of Children with Atypical Genital Development, otherwise known as intersex. Albania joins a long list of other countries that have adopted a similar protocol.
Prior to the new protocol, it was left to the parents to decide on whether an intervention to assign particular sex would take place. Now, this cannot happen and surgical intervention can only take place if deemed necessary for health reasons.
✅ Ministria e Shendetesise dhe Mbrojtjes Sociale ka miratuar sot ‘Protokollin Mjekesor per Vleresimin e Femijeve me…
Anisa Metalla, a lawyer at Tirana Legal Aid Society (TLAS), an organisation that has worked with intersex persons in the country, has been involved in the realisation of the protocol. She said it is a great and very necessary step for improving child health.
“According to the protocol, surgical interventions will only be given in cases when it is required and all interventions should be done according to protocol and not how the parents decide,” she said/
“In cases where the parents don’t act according to the doctor’s guidance, there is a strict process where a multidisciplinary group is gathered to inform the parent. It is also mandatory to call the Child Protection Unit that is a special structure to define a protection plan for children when there are risks for them.”
The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands also supported TLAS in their advocacy and work to make this protocol a reality.
This new legislation will give much-needed protection to intersex children who previously underwent unnecessary and irreversible surgical interventions. It also gives the child autonomy over their body and the ability to take part in decisions affecting their body identity.
The term “intersex” is used to describe a situation where a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that cannot be conventionally categorised as “female” or “male”. Traditionally, when this occurs, doctors will perform surgery on the baby to make them fit the binary idea of “female” or “male”. This can result in significant mental and physical issues as the child grows up, and it is medically unnecessary.
Being intersex is a naturally occurring variation and is not a medical problem. Surgeries and hormone therapy are therefore unnecessary.
Around 1.7% of all babies are born as intersex globally making it about as common as being born with red hair.