Intersex people are among one of the most underrepresented communities in the world. But that doesn’t take away the fact that intersex people are part of our society. In fact. there’s an estimate of 1.7 percent of people are born with sex characteristics that are outside the gender binary spectrum. That’s as common as someone being born with green eyes or red hair!
Now, what’s intersex exactly? Basically, intersex people are people who are born with sexual characteristics that may be considered “male” or “female.” These characteristics include, but are not limited to, genitals, genodes, and chromosomal patterns. Some intersex people have visible intersex traits from the moment they are born, while others start developing intersex traits from puberty and on. It’s completely normal and it’s something that doesn’t need fixing. If you didn’t know this, that’s fine. This is why we are here to give you some information on intersex awareness.
Contrary to popular belief, being intersex has nothing to do with sexuality. Though it is important to note that intersex people have the same liberty to love whomever they please, as the rest of the world does. Instead, rather than being part of the sexuality spectrum, it’s simply a matter of biology. Even though it is known that intersex is based on biology, people including doctors, have been trying to alter it.
For a large part of history, the topic of intersexuality was often left untouched. That is until the mid-20th century when doctors gained access to anesthesia. Thrilled with this new medical product, doctors started practicing genitalia mutilation on intersex people, including children. Parents even sought genitalia mutilation for their children after anesthesia hit the medical market. All of this without the children’s consent. Sounds terrible, right? Well, it gets worse. Genital mutilation is still a reality for intersex people. In fact, there are doctors who continue engaging in this archaic procedure all over the United States. They try to justify it by saying that these procedures are merely cosmetic and it will only enhance the future of the intersex child. Through that, both the doctors and parents make a decision on one of the binary genders they want the child to be and move forward with the surgery. What’s worse is that oftentimes the parents “choose” the wrong gender for their children, which becomes a problem as their intersex child starts going through puberty.
Being that these surgeries are done without the consent of the intersex person is a direct violation of human rights. The UN has even donned it as inhumane. Some people want to argue saying that children don’t have rights over their body before they reach adulthood, but that’s ridiculous. Children grow up and they should get a say on the body they will carry forever.
As it should be expected, these unnecessary procedures create a lot of problems for intersex people in the future. Many intersex people have the trauma of getting a procedure done without their consent. On top of that, they have to endure the constant pain they acquired about the non-consensual surgery. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s more than likely they will experience incontinence, a damaged sex life, gender crisis, and sterilization throughout their lifetime.
If you’re wondering what you can do to help intersex people, we’ve got you covered. The following are things you can do to stay on top of intersex issues and what to do about it.
Be Politically Engaged
Last year, Trump’s administration leaked a memo that outlined their desire to define sex. This meant that they were en route to place everyone in boxes to conform to the genders they feel society are most comfortable with. Moreover, the administration stated that gender should be defined on the chromosome aspect of gender, which they claimed would be the most accurate way to determine someone as male or female. They also said that gender alteration was allegedly going to be considered invalid. Though this memo was principally targeted at transgender people, this memo affects intersex people too. Remember, some intersex people’s chromosomal pattern may not even be the typical XX or XY. The fact is that intersex people can’t forced into a box, especially when that box doesn’t exist.
Undeniably, Trump’s administration is practically forcing people to be more political than ever. We are now seeing a society who brings out their passion on any political decision that goes against anyone’s quality of life. It’s great, but it requires constant work. This is why it’s important to stay informed on everything. Learn what laws restrict the lives of other people and vote against them.
Learn to Use Intersex-Sensitive Language
There are some words out there that can be triggering for intersex people. Such words are hermaphrodite and DSM. Hermaphrodite is a derogatory slang used to described intersex people and DSM is a medical acronym meaning Disorders of Sexual Development. These words are extremely harmful to the intersex community as it diminishes them to a disorder or worse, a deformity. Remember, there really isn’t any reason to dehumanize intersex people (or anyone for that matter). Just heads up: use intersex whenever it’s appropriate.
Fight Against Discrimination
Since intersex people usually have difficulties filling out legal documents, they become vulnerable to many injustices. Not having access to documents that allow intersex people to identity themselves properly oftentimes hinder their ability to progress in society. Sometimes intersex people aren’t even issued identification because of the troubled perception of gender. Or in other words — because society discriminates against people who are simply different. Therefore, this type of negligent treatment causes intersex people to forego job and education opportunities as well as even preventing them from opening a bank account. Discrimination also occurs if intersex people are allowed to work or attend school. If someone has visible intersex traits, then they are more prone to harassment and bullying. Sadly, this stems from the fact that there aren’t many established laws or comprehensive education that protect intersex people.
So, what then? Well, we must show up for the intersex community just as much as many of us have shown up for other marginalized groups. Another thing you can do is to stand up for anyone who is being harassed or bullied. Don’t ever let anyone take advantage of someone or cause pain to someone else on your watch. Wouldn’t you want people to do the same for you if you were in a vulnerable situation?
Don’t Stop Caring
See, the ill-treatment of intersex people is simply the concept of Otherness unraveling in our current society by people who can’t seem to accept that the world is not meant to be uninformed. Let’s eradicate this type of thinking by pushing our legislators to do something about this. Stay informed and show up whenever possible. Bring others into this movement as well. Intersex people need allies now more than ever. Will you be one of them?