Monday, October 26, 2015

Intersex Awareness Day 2015

Intersex Awareness Day is an internationally observed civil awareness day designed to highlight the issues faced by intersex people.

The event marks the first public demonstration by intersex people in North America, on October 26, 1996, outside the venue in Boston where the American Academy of Pediatrics was holding its annual conference. Intersex activists from Intersex Society of North America were Morgan Holmes and Max Beck, alongside allies from Transexual Menace including Riki Wilchins. The group demonstrated carrying a sign saying "Hermaphrodites With Attitude". The commemoration day itself began in 2003.

also see: UN launches Intersex Fact Sheet 2015 and Despite opposition, EU Parliament votes for LGBTI rights/trans identity depathologization in gender equality

Intersex Awareness Day is an international day of grass-roots action to end shame, secrecy and unwanted genital cosmetic surgeries on intersex children. The day also provides an opportunity for reflection and political action. Between October 26 and November 8, intersex organizations try to bring attention to the challenges intersex individuals face, culminating in the Intersex Day of Remembrance on the birthday of Herculine Barbin, also sometimes known as Intersex Solidarity Day.

Notable observances:

On Friday 25 October 2013, the day before Intersex Awareness Day that year, the Australian Senate published a report on an inquiry titled the Involuntary or coerced sterilization of intersex people in Australia. On 11 November 2014, the New South Wales Legislative Council in Australia passed a motion marking Intersex Awareness Day and calling on the State government to "work with the Australian Government to implement the recommendations" of the 2013 Senate committee report.

For Intersex Awareness Day 2014, the Senate of the German Land of Berlin issued a statement calling for self-determination for intersex people. Also in 2014, the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, Distrito Federal, held a visibility event on intersex issues.

Relationship with LGBT and queer communities

The relationship of Intersex campaigners to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, and queer communities, is a little complex. In an Intersex for allies explanatory leaflet, the organisation states that some intersex individuals are same sex attracted, and some are heterosexual, but "LGBTI activism has fought for the rights of people who fall outside of expected binary sex and gender norms. 

Intersex is part of LGBTI because of intersex status and a shared experience of homophobia, not because of sexual orientation or gender identity." An associated guide for service providers comments that not all intersex people identify with the LGBTI "human rights movement.

Important to Remember:

INTERSEX is not a part of transgender because intersex is not about gender. Intersex is about anatomical differences in sex.

Below are some of the differences in the experience of trans and intersex individuals.

Self-identified gender does not match apparent sex at birth.
Some human rights protection. In NSW this is limited to “recognized transgender” or people thought to be “transgender” – 36B Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 in Australia.

Can change cardinal documents, but usually requires irreversible surgeries usually involving sterilization and applicants must not be married. (wish we had that)

The right to marry someone of the opposite legal gender.

A full and functional reproductive system.

Physical differences limited to brain anatomy.

Transsexual people have an effective medical protocol that produces a 98% effective outcome with long-term studies and follow-ups.

The right to choose the time of surgery with extensive peer support.

The ability to participate fully and in an informed manner in their surgical and hormonal options.

Transsexual people generally have a strongly defined sense of gender – man or woman.

Can compete in sport up to and including Olympic level through established protocols.

Many effective and extensive organizations worldwide, with some NGOs attracting government funding (e.g. NSW Gender Centre).

also see:

More on Intersexuality from a 2010 post and this one from 2011

also see: IGLHRC Hails Landmark Law in Malta on Gender Identity, Expression and Protections for Intersex Children

Footage from the side event on the human rights of intersex people, organised during the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council by Advocates for Informed Choice, CIPD, Organisation Intersex International Australia Limited, Oii-Chinese and OII Europe, supported by ILGA and COC Nederland.

download the brochure HERE

I stand in solidarity with my intersex brethren most of whom I have met through this blog and will continue to share any relevant information to raise awareness.

also see:

Impossible for Intersex People to be Cisgender?

Peace & tolerance



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