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International Intersex Awareness Day
Oct26

International Intersex Awareness Day

LAST UPDATED // Friday, 26 October 2012 15:42 Written by // Andrew Shaw

Australia’s LGBTI Health Alliance has declared its support for International Intersex Awareness Day, which has been observed on October 26 since 1996.

“The Alliance believes that this day is a great opportunity to break the silence and stop the ignorance about the existence of intersex people in Australia”, said Alliance general manager, Warren Talbot.

“In 2010 the Alliance changed its constitution and name to include the concerns of intersex people. In 2011, the President of Oii Australia, Gina Wilson, was appointed to the Alliance Board.”

“Intersex people should be celebrated as part of the rich diversity of humanity. The contribution to society of intersex people should be valued and honoured.”

Wilson said the central message of Intersex Awareness Day was the de-medicalisation of natural variations in a person’s sex anatomy. 

“Intersex is not a disease, a disorder, a medical “condition”. The use of stigmatising language such as this has led to poor mental health, marginalisation even invisibilisation, and exclusion from social institutions for Intersex people,” she said.

“On this day we hope to make as many people as possible aware of what intersex is and that intersex people everywhere lack those most fundamental human rights, the right to autonomy over our own bodies, the right to a life without discrimination, the right to a life without shame and secrecy.”

In Europe, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) said the day is a great opportunity to raise awareness on intersex issues, generate greater understanding and challenge the prevailing medical pathological approach to the bodies of intersex people.

“Across Europe, hundreds of babies who are born intersex or those children who are identified as intersex later in their lives, are being subjected to inhumane ‘corrective gender surgical operations’ in order to align them with the binary male or female sexes,” ILGA-Europe stated.

“Such intrusive and unnecessary surgeries have devastating effects on intersex people who very frequently report to be tormented mentally, sexually, physically and psychologically by such ‘treatments’.”

IMAGE: Tony Briffa, Mayor of the City of Hobsons Bay in Melbourne, was born with an intersex condition called Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.

A message from OII on International Intersex Awareness Day:

Today, Wednesday 26th of October, marks the 16th Intersex  Awareness Day.

Intersex people are people who have physical differences of sex anatomy other than brain sex alone. Our anatomical differences might include genetic, hormonal or genital differences or differences in our reproductive parts.

The first Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) came about when the American intersex group named Hermaphrodites with Attitude (HWA) teamed up with American Trans group Trans Menace to picket an American Association of Paediatrics (AAP) conference in Boston on 26th October 1996.

Those picketing this event were outraged that the doctors attending the conference were recommending and conducting infant genital surgery on intersex kids in order to make them more “normal”. Some of those protesting had been subjected to those kinds of surgery when they were infants.

The central message of Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) is the de-medicalisation of natural variations in a person’s sex anatomy.  Intersex is not a disease, a disorder, a medical “condition”. The use of stigmatising language such as this has led to poor mental health, marginalisation even invisibilisation, and exclusion from social institutions for Intersex people.

On this day we hope to make as many people as possible aware of what intersex is and that intersex people everywhere lack those most fundamental human rights, the right to autonomy over our own bodies, the right to a life without discrimination, the right to a life without shame and secrecy.

In short it is a call for our right to an equal place in society.

Intersex is difference in the same way that eye colour or right- or left-handedness are differences or human biological variations. As with handedness or sexual orientation, societies have, in the past, looked upon human variations through the lens of prejudice and then sought ways to “cure” or eliminate that variation.

At a fundamental level homophobic bigotry, intolerance and ancient superstitions underpin contemporary mistreatment of intersex people.

Intersex people are subjected to forced gendering and surgical alterations to our bodies to “disappear” our differences in a society that regards difference in sex anatomy as deeply suspicious.

Over the next fourteen days – The Fourteen Days of Intersex – OII Australia will release one- or two-paragraph articles on issues that currently stand between being intersex and being a human being who enjoys full access to the law and equal rights.

Gina Wilson
Chairperson, Organisation Intersex International  Australia Limited

oiiaustralia.com

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Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw is editor of Queensland Pride.

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