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Dear Secretary Clinton & Ambassador Verveer,
February 6, 2013 marks the tenth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). Cosmetic genital surgery is a practice of cutting girls so that they can fit cultural norms, even though there are no medical benefits. Many people in the United States believe this is something that only happens in other countries. Unfortunately, it happens here too. Every year, hundreds of girls in the U.S. undergo cosmetic genital surgery because someone had decided their clitoris is “too big” to fit our cultural norms.2 An estimated one to two in 1,000 births results in surgery to “normalize” genital appearance in children with intersex conditions or DSD (differences of sex development)…
As Secretary Clinton has pointed out, culture and tradition can provide no excuse for a practice that mutilates children’s genitals with no medical benefit. It can be much harder, though, to see the flaws in our own culture than in others. The United States will be in a much stronger position to address FGM in other countries when we have acknowledged and addressed the way our own society modifies girls’ genitals to suit cultural ideas of beauty and normality.
We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to stop this harmful practice. On the Tenth Annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM/C, we ask that Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Verveer acknowledge that genital-normalizing surgery happens to girls in the United States who are born with intersex conditions or DSD. Let’s work together to stop all forms of non-consensual genital cosmetic surgery, simply to fit cultural norms, in the United States and abroad.
We remind international readers that intersex genital cutting remains a standard procedure in many other Western countries, too.