Intersex Awareness Day (26 October)
What does intersex mean?
Intersex is an umbrella term that refers to people who have one or more of a range of sex characteristics that “may not fit traditional conceptions about male and female bodies.” Intersex people may have variations in their chromosomes, genitals, and organs (e.g. testes or ovaries). Intersex characteristics may be identified at birth, during puberty or later in life. An estimated 1.7% of people are born with intersex traits.
Why is intersex visibility important?
Intersex people have always existed but have rarely been visible or acknowledged. In addition, intersex people very often undergo “corrective” or non-voluntary surgeries as children with no other reason than to ensure their bodies conform to the stereotypical notions of male or female. According to InterAct, “the vast majority of these surgeries are not medically necessary when performed on young children and could instead be delayed until the intersex individual can decide whether surgery is right for them.” In many countries, intersex children also experience high levels of abandonments and infanticide.
Intersex genital surgeries are considered human rights abuses by the United Nations, World Health Organisation, and Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Despite this, very few countries globally have specific laws and safeguards to protect intersex people from these non-consensual medical interventions. Notable exceptions are Malta, which was the first country to put in place a specific law to prohibit these interventions.
Explicit protections from discrimination for intersex people is also low in comparison to other LGBT+ protections.
Questions to ask:
- Education and Awareness: Is my organisation committed to educating its employees around different gender identities, including intersex people?
- Visibility: Is my organisation spotlighting any intersex people or allies?
- Policies and protections: Does my organisation have specific policies or guidelines that explicitly support and protect intersex people?
- Data: Does my organisation capture, monitor and report on diversity data (including with a specific option to capture information about intersex people)?
- Supporting organisations: Are we as an organisation supporting intersex rights and awareness globally?
To explore this conversation further, please get in touch at: email@example.com.