Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Intersex Awareness Day

Today, October 26th, is Intersex Awareness Day. Intersex people are very often left in the shadows. I find myself often forgetting to consider and include them in my activism. Lumping them in with LGBT+ people (also known as the alphabet soup suffering coalition) is considered by many intersex individuals to be unhelpful and even harmful, as they deal with many unique issues.

Here is the definition of intersex according to the Intersex Society of North America:

“Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.

Intersex awareness is important due to the fact that most intersex people have medical issues. This includes issues with the medical establishment that often insists on unnecessary surgery to make them "normal" or fit into the gender binary, typically when they're infants.

This Intersex Awareness Day is especially special because it's the 20th anniversary of the first awareness day. To commemorate this, 40 organizations including 20 that focus exclusively on intersex issues published a joint statement calling for better treatment of these individuals.

More than 40 organisations, including more than 20 intersex-led organisations, have called “for intersex people to have control over their medical decisions, to be free from medically unnecessary interventions, and to have access to psychological and peer support”

Surprisingly, even the U.S. Department of State has published a statement to recognize Intersex Awareness Day.

We recognize that intersex persons face violence, discrimination, stigma, harassment, and persecution on account of their sex characteristics, which do not fit binary notions of typical male or female bodies. 
Intersex persons routinely face forced medical surgeries that are conducted at a young age without free or informed consent. These interventions jeopardize their physical integrity and ability to live free.

Yeah like you had nothing to do with that, state department. Sure. Okay.

But at least it shows that people are becoming more aware of the existence of intersex people. It's a start. It's also not nearly enough.

If you're not familiar with intersex individuals, I highly recommend looking through intersexday.org  to take advantage of the many articles by intersex people and information on the basics. Then maybe share some stuff on social media. It's not too hard.

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