"We’re not looking for awareness, we’re fighting to exist"
Today is Intersex Awareness Day, at the same time Trump plans to define gender based on genetic testing and appearance – this is an ignorance of reality
Intersex UK at Pride In London 2018.
President Trump, wrap your mind around this. I was born with XY chromosomes, gonads, and a vagina. I am not uncommon.
I am intersex and I am happy with my body.
Interact's definition of intersex
Intersex refers to people who are born with any of a range of sex characteristics that may not fit a doctor’s notions of binary “male” or “female” bodies. Variations may appear in a person’s chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs like testes or ovaries. Some intersex traits are identified at birth, while others may not be discovered until puberty or later in life.
"I am intersex and I am happy with my body" – Susannah Temko
According to a memo reported in The New York Times: “The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.
"Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.”
The report that the Trump administration is planning to define gender based on genetic testing and the appearance of infants is cause for concern for it’s ignorance of reality, and lack of regard for the lives of transgender, intersex, and non-binary people.
Though many wish it were so simple, you cannot force a sex based on chromosomes (mine are considered typically male), and/or external genital appearance (considered externally female) without completely ignoring the truth of human physiology.
(Not to mention, that the notion of widespread genetic testing and the recording of American genitals is an affront to the notion individual liberty.)
I understand that desire in a chaotic, changing, confusing world to order things. Information brings about a sense of control, personal control, but this is dangerous. Especially when applied arbitrarily, simplistically, and in an exclusionary fashion.
It also misses the eclectic beauty and freedom that exists naturally across the human species.
"Exclusion" makes it sound like being left out on the playground. What this definition means for intersex people is we are surgically and civically erased from our societies.
Already, without attempts to define us “out of existence”, we are fighting for our lives.
Intersex people are stigmatised, abused, discriminated against in public spheres from medicine to law to sport. Doctors in the United States, and all over the world, “continue to perform medically unnecessary surgeries that can inflict permanent harm on intersex children,” irreversibly and without said persons’ informed consent.
We are subject to violations of our health, our bodies, our lives.
Intersex activists around the world have been working for decades, often without payment or recognition to educate and change.
This work has resulted in much unsung success; condemnation from numerous bodies of the UN, out-right banning of non-consensual surgeries in Malta, and three former surgeons-general Joycelyn Elders, David Satcher and Richard Carmona, who said the surgery is "not justified, absent a need to ensure physical functioning.” This is to name but a few.
This exclusion isn’t small either. If we take the estimated 1.7% incidence rate of intersex people to the American population you can approximately estimate 5.5m people who don’t fit this proposal of a genetic or genital system of categorisation.
Five and a half million people who, at the very least, must be allowed to make decisions about their body and their lives. Though this administration is trying, it cannot ignore or erase us.
Intersex, transgender, and non-binary people exist. We always have.
We find each other. We support each other. We are changing the narrative. We will change the law.
You cannot erase us.
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