Our policy on written content

Purpose

These guidelines are designed to ensure clarity and consistency, maintain focus and professionalism.

Attribution: the organisation

“We” are “OII Australia”, Organisation Intersex International Australia Limited, a not-for-profit company.

Please be clear that we don’t represent all intersex people, but we do try and stay aware of viewpoints from outside our organisation.

Members of the organisation hold a range of opinions. The opinion of any individual board member should be represented as their opinion, unless it’s agreed as a policy by the board. Any policy position of OII Australia must have the approval of at least three board members.

Attribution: anonymity and pseudonyms

Given the human rights context that we are trying to change, we recognise that intersex people may wish to remain entirely or partially anonymous, or use pseudonyms. So long as this is not used in an intentionally fraudulent manner, then this is acceptable.

Board members of OII Australia will, at the very least, use their first name in official contexts.

Attribution: opinion pieces

Opinion pieces must be attributed to an individual and it must be clear that they are not speaking on behalf of OII Australia. Personal opinion pieces do not need to conform to the rest of this policy.

Terminology for intersex

We favour the terms intersex, intersex people, intersex variation, intersex trait.

We don’t favour the terms intersex condition or hermaphrodite, but we recognise that some intersex people reclaim or use these terms to describe themselves.

We don’t favour the terms intersexual or intersexuality. They most commonly arise in materials translated into English, and some people confuse them with a sexual orientation.

We never use language like “inter-sex”.

We reject ‘disorder’, ‘DSD’, or ‘Disorders of Sex Development’, as pathologizing and stigmatising language that harms intersex people.

We also reject “Differences of Sex Development” and similar terms because they will be interpreted as indistinguishable from DSD.

Surgery

We typically describe non-consensual gonadal and cosmetic genital surgeries on infants as just that. We occasionally also use the term ‘Infant Genital Mutilation’, as it corresponds to the widely used term ‘Female Genital Mutilation’, but we generally try to refrain from the use of triggering language. We regard all such surgeries as reprehensible and campaign to end them.

All medical intervention should be based on free, fully informed and prior consent.

An overemphasis on infant surgeries as the intersex issue infantilises intersex people.

Alliances

When talking about alliances, we typically use LGBTI or LGBTIQ: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex and queer.

We avoid new acronyms like ‘Sex and Gender Diverse’, as these fail to recognise homophobia as the common issue faced by LGBTIQ peoples. They also tend to promote trans* narratives at the expense of intersex narratives.

Legal terminology

In talking about inclusive legal terminology, the language is evolving but we currently favour SOGII: sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

Writing style

Promote objective, factual reporting on intersex. Make a clear distinction between editorialising and commentary, on the one hand, and reporting on the other.

Quotations must always be clearly reported as such, with links to their sources. Referencing is always good.

Do not denigrate anyone. Do not make accusations that cannot be justified in the material as it is presented. Use moderate language. Present evidence, and refute it where and when necessary.

Do not repeat lengthy assertions in commentary on every media report. Keep to the task at hand. Refer to analysis elsewhere.

Avoid rhetorical questions (and answers).

Avoid emotive and florid language.

Policy on comments

Comments that defame, vilify, make ad hominem attacks or use hate speech will be deleted.

Social media

These policies apply to social media, except that per-post attribution is often impractical.

Implementation

In our latest board meeting prior to publication on 23 March 2012, OII Australia adopted a new policy on written content, on the web and in print. We subsequently reviewed all the material on this website to ensure compliance with the new policy. Please talk to us if you see anything in future that you have issues with.