What is Intersex?

The United Nations (UN) defines intersex as people who are born with sex characteristics that don’t fit typical definitions of male and female.

Intersex is not a simple concept. Like many identities, it is an umbrella term that refers to an individual who has sex characteristics that are considered to be outside of the ‘typical’ male or female concepts. This may include their DNA structure, such as chromosomes; presence of or lack of internal organs, hormones, genitals and even their DNA structure specifically chromosomes. Because of this, sometimes an individual is unaware that they have an Intersex body until later in life or perhaps not at all. For some, intersex identities can be determined in infancy, for others, not until puberty and for some folks it's not clear without a genetic test.

 

Intersex Flag

About Our Flag

Created by - Intersex Human Rights Australia (2013)

Both yellow and purple are colors not typically associated with a specific gender. The unbroken and unornamented circle represents wholeness and completeness. It also represents the current fight for the right to be who and how intersex people want to be.

Intersex vs Trans?

Respecting a person's Identity is an crucial aspect of being a Queer Ally.

Don’t get confused! These are two very different identities. Although there may be some overlap in terms of shared experiences, barriers and discrimination, an intersex person and a trans person will have unique experiences of both sex designation and gender identity.

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Wondering about Trans? Get to know the basics about our community with QE's TRANS 101

Intersex Info, Stats & Facts

Intersex acceptance starts with information!

  • 1.7% of the population are born Intersex, that’s 129 million people. (source IHRA.org).
  • The DNA traits and variations related to Intersex are naturally occurring in humans.
  • There is no evidence to suggest surgery on intersex infants benefits the child, yet it is commonly practiced worldwide.
  • In 2015, Malta became the first country to ban surgeries on intersex children.
  • Intersex individuals face daily discrimination in all aspects of their lives. In fact, there's a significant lack of legal protections, adequate healthcare and basic human rights for intersex folks.
  • Intersex is a spectrum, there are many variations of Intersex that only sometimes present as physical traits.

Myths about Intersex

There's so much misinformation about our Intersex friends, lets clear a few things up

  • Intersex is a medical condition - While, there can be health problems that are associated with some intersex variations, being intersex is not a medical condition.
  • Surgery performed on intersex infants is in their best interest - Research shows this is simply untrue and according to the UN, most surgeries on intersex infants amount to torture.
  • Doctors know best - sometimes yes but doctors are humans, as with all of us our knowledge is limited to our experience, biases and what we chose to learn and accept.
  • A parent should have the right to decide - This is an emphatic NO! There is nothing wrong with intersex bodies and urgent action is not required at a young age.

Call to End Unnecessary Surgery on Intersex Children

All individuals deserve the right to choose what happens with their own bodies.

Intersex rights advocates are working to end the medically unnecessary and harmful surgeries forced upon infants and children. Many folks who have undergone surgery have reported lifelong challenges including mental, physical and sexual health.

In fact, international organizations including the WHO and UN have stated these surgeries violate individual human rights and can be a form of torture.

Intersex Allyship

The 'I' in LGBT2QIA represents Intersex. As a queer community, we too need to do a better job accepting & welcoming intersex folks.

  • Education! Building awareness is a crucial step towards ending discrimination and often erasure of the Intersex community.
  • An ally never asks questions about a person's physical traits, nor do they expect an intersex person to educate or share personal experiences.
  • Do not assume an individual's pronoun. Ask about preferred pronouns and respect them!
  • Support legislation and calls to ban unnecessary surgery and procedures on infants and children who are born intersex.
  • Oppose unnecessary laws, regulations and restrictions that control an individual based on traditional genders.
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