Kyle Knight is a researcher in the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch in New York City. A former media journalist who chose to do reporting work with more policy follow through and impact, Kyle is a brilliant motivator for change. Samantha Paige sat down with Knight to discuss the details of his most recent Human Rights Watch report entitled, “I Want to be Like Nature Made Me: Medically Unnecessary Surgeries on Intersex Children in the US.” Written in partnership with interACT, an organization that advocates for the human rights of children born with intersex traits, this detailed report documents the medically unnecessary surgeries done on many intersex children, who make up close to 2% of the US population. Intersex people are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics, including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. Knight eloquently outlines the unethical treatment of many intersex patients, the lasting psychological and physical effects of these unnecessary surgeries and the proposed policy change to create a kinder, safer environment for intersex patients in the medical system and beyond. This episode touches upon important issues related to gender, nonbinary identity, parenting, health advocacy and societal biases and norms.
Prior to joining the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch, Knight was a fellow at the Williams Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles and a Fulbright scholar in Nepal. As a journalist he has worked for Agence France-Presse in Nepal and for IRIN, the UN’s humanitarian news service, reporting from Burma, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
For more information on the Human Rights Watch and interACT Intersex report, please visit https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/07/25/i-want-be-nature-made-me/medically-unnecessary-surgeries-intersex-children-us. For more information on interACT, please visit https://interactadvocates.org.