Major children's hospital apologizes for performing cosmetic genital surgeries on intersex infants

Intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis protests outside the hospital in 2017.

(CNN)After a yearslong advocacy campaign waged by activists, the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago has become the first hospital in the nation to apologize for performing cosmetic genital surgeries on intersex infants.

In a statement posted Tuesday to its blog, the hospital said it understood its "approach was harmful and wrong" -- a reference to surgery to make genitalia appear more typically male or female.
The hospital said: "We empathize with intersex individuals who were harmed by the treatment that they received according to the historic standard of care and we apologize and are truly sorry."
    It went on to say it was "evolving" its policies on the matter and that it would not perform such surgeries unless they were medically necessary.
    Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe people born with bodies that are perceived as differing from typical "male" and "female" categories. In recent decades, irreversible cosmetic genital surgeries have been relatively common for infants born with atypical sex organs to bring them more in line with a "typical" male or female body.