Honoring Intersex Awareness Day and Day of Solidarity

October 26, 2016 and November 8, 2016

In honor of Intersex Awareness Day and leading into Intersex Day of Solidarity, we wanted to take some time to share with you important information and resources on intersex issues as provided by intersex-led organizations working all around the world.

What is Intersex?

Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that don’t meet medical and social norms for female or male bodies. Intersex people suffer stigma and discrimination as a result.

Intersex traits are physical variations in genitals, chromosomes or other features that relate to the development of sex characteristics. There are many different intersex variations and many different types of intersex body.

Intersex people have a wide range of different sexual orientations and gender identities. Our gender identities may match our assignments at birth or be chosen.

Other words for intersex include “hermaphrodite”, “differences of sex development”, and also “disorders of sex development”. Some of these terms are strongly contested.

The word “hermaphrodite” has poetic, medical and biological associations. It is reclaimed by some intersex people, but for others it has unpleasant connotations and may be regarded as inaccurate or misleading.

Many people struggle with “disorders of sex development” or “DSD” as this intrinsically disorders intersex characteristics themselves, resulting in eugenic de-selection and prenatal treatments, as well as irreversible surgical and hormone treatments during infancy, childhood and adolescence. Childhood treatments have well established risks comparable to those in Female Genital Mutilation: sexual dysfunction and lack of sensation. They take place without the informed consent of children, and with only limited consent from emotionally vulnerable parents.

Many activists argue that “differences of sex development” does not challenge the disordering of intersex traits as it is impossible to distinguish one DSD from another.

www.intersexday.org

History

For the past twelve years, the period between October 26th (Intersex Awareness Day) and November 8th (Intersex Day of Solidarity) has been devoted to the discussion of intersex issues. Intersex Awareness Day was created as a grassroots awareness campaign in 2003 by Emi Koyoma and Betsy Driver, and has thrived for over a decade.

“We started it to give what was then a very small community a sense of belonging and something to talk about or to use as an excuse to share their story with people who were interested in hearing about it. It is fitting that the original idea behind the day is still with it – recognizing the very earliest pioneers who were out on the front lines of the intersex movement, unafraid to be out and be seen and not ashamed of the body they were born in. That small group of brave individuals in 1996 opened many doors that today would be considered mere specks in the rear view mirror of a new generation of activists.” - Betsy Driver

Read more about the realization of Intersex Awareness Day and Intersex Day of Solidarity from Betsy Driver on Intersexday.org.

Want to know how you can be a good ally to Intersex people? OII Australia has created a guide as well as provided more information on Intersex issues. To hear from intersex individual and activists, be sure to read their commentaries, and take the time to get involved in this year’s Intersex Day of Awareness and Day of Solidarity.