Intersex – Intersexué

If you are unfamiliar with intersex (one of the 3 sexes), please watch this brief discussion on Huffpost Live for an introduction or browse Organisation Intersex International. Pour l’instant un lien suffira et la traduction viendra peut être dès qu’il m’est facile de taper (et dès que je trouve une traduction pour ‘sibling’) – car taper ce qui suit m’a pris des semaines.

To the intersex, the sex category which continues to be ignored, all of us ought to be allies (which entails a process whereby we forever learn how to ally) regardless of where we fit in or outside the gender binary. transgender advocate Courtney O’ Donnell’s piece is a case of hogging the all-too-little space for conversation around intersex issues, and intersex visibility. Courtney is conflating issues and since people are hardly aware of intersex people, it’s wrong.

Anti-trans “moralists” range from feminists to extremists and include otherwise very intelligent people, one would think they may not all overlap with those bigoted about intersex. It is true that if society had a place for even intersex children, then transgender children would have a place, as there are commonalities.

Courtney’s generalised description of intersex seems simplistic and inaccurate. One would imagine that in most countries, the intersex are forced to undergo treatment and surgeries from an age at which they cannot give their consent, if not infancy and early in their childhood. Furthermore they are then often repeatedly hospitalised for procedures, all in the name of gender binary worship and medically-endorsed genital mutilation. This is not for health reasons, as pointed out after 12:50 and at the end of the discussion I posted as introduction above.

Assigning a fixed gender according to sex is the medical trend and it is sacrosanct to limit the options to two, so much so that the majority, even those born intersex like Sheena Metal, ignore the existence of a third sex until late in their lives as Sheena admitted. There are no bathrooms specific to intersex where bathrooms are segregated and it is as if there’s a social conspiracy not to include them, in sports and life in general. Sure, many of the same barriers apply to trans but some can perhaps pick a bathroom. Others share similar concerns as intersex folks and intersex living as male or female often have treatments in common with trans.

Society and institutions have mandated sex (or at least gender) reassignment as essential for our intersex siblings and we conspire in our silence or by detracting from their issues. This mandate is often coming from the same crowd who oppose sex reconstructive surgery in another part of the population where ironically surgery is desired and the teens or adults are consenting and empowered.

“Sheena Metal is a popular L.A. radio host, journalist, comic and sometimes-actress. Recently she came out as intersex over the air and in an interview in Gay Star News. What struck me about this is that Sheena says she’s baffled that nobody wants to talk about it. She believes the media isn’t that interested in covering it because “the general public doesn’t really want to understand anything about being intersex.” As for the “intersex community,” Sheena says there isn’t much of one. She asks how one can find others when nobody admits to being intersex.”

In spite of anti-trans sentiment, there are increasingly opportunities for people to transition in many countries (that doesn’t mean there are other opportunities or equal consideration) whereas even the Intersex Society of North America has become oprressive according to testimonies, and they have started using the term people with Disorders of Sexual Development (DSD) which makes the opposition to real or helpful advocacy evident. The only horrific example I can think of is countries where people are forced to transition to avoid same-sex unions, like Iran, I imagine this does not affect trans folks but perhaps lesbian, gay and bi folks as well as some intersex. If I had to draw comparisons I would think: I have a suspicion there is medical profit to be made by encouraging visibility of trans whereas the industry profits by decreasing visibility of intersex folks. There is not nearly enough visibility, LGBT organisations often don’t even want to include an I or a Q in my experience (and not there but in some places the opposition originates from the Intersex community, sure) while the intersex issues overlap and intersex activits speak of LGBT issues even if they are personally not affected, as allies.

There is no competition but some of us have privilege – visibility; and although white supremacy has determined history, some groups have been recognised throughout Western history. transgender and intersex have a commonality in that historical acceptance is through indigenous communities throughout the world and our continent. The discourse around that fact remains predominantly about transgender such as when we think of Thailand. I personally know many people who have visited Thailand but ignore the existence of intersex, as most people I know of.