AutoStraddle has recently published a great piece by OII USA Associate Director, Claudia Astorino. In the US, intersex has generally been left out of LGBTI (here in Australia, it’s typically put in, even in situations where an organisation doesn’t know much about intersex). Claudia talks about this in her article:
Intersex is now being included in the LGBT acronym, in adding the “I.” Not all intersex people are comfortable with this, and many of the same arguments that were used before including trans* individuals are now used for intersex: that intersex isn’t a sexual orientation or a gender identity. That not all intersex people feel queer in L, G, B, or other ways, and don’t want to be affiliated with the queer community. Not all intersex people want to publicly acknowledge their intersex, or don’t identify as intersex, because intersex people are already normal just as we are. More intersex activists are now opting for intersex inclusion in LGBTI, however, because our broad goals are in line with those of other queer movements: treat us as equals and accept our autonomy, regardless of our sex and gender identities and what we choose to do with our bodies. Look at us, know that we’re real and we’re visible if you open your eyes and your mind, and know in your heart that what’s happening to us is bullshit.
Let us choose what to do with our bodies and our selves…
And here Claudia talks about how doctors surgically reinforce sex assignments when our status is discovered at birth:
In short, unlike typical girls and boys, there are no guidelines telling society how intersex people are supposed to be treated. Intersex bodies create social panic. Our physical traits might not really be so scary, but the implications of accepting our bodies go pretty quickly from what-does-this-mean to what-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do-NOW?! Biological sex is one of the most fundamental ways human beings identify and understand each other; if our idea of biological sex is wrong, what else could be wrong? It’s too much to handle.
The seemingly obvious solution for a long time has been to just try and “fix” us. We’re really just “normal” boys and girls with medical conditions. Treat the conditions – remove and alter what you can (e.g., genitals, internal sex organs, hormones) and try to forget what you can’t (e.g. chromosomes).
One of the most common “treatments” is genital surgery. Some intersex kids have genitals that are not typically male or female and are sometimes considered “ambiguous.” (I hate this term. Our genitals don’t, like, morph their shape every so often or something. Our bodies aren’t “in between” male and female bodies. They exist in their own right.)
If you’ve arrived here from the recommendation in Claudia’s article then welcome!
Our “intersex for allies” document is a good starting point, that’s based partly on some words by Claudia. Take a look, too, at our FAQs in the menu at the top, or our media resources, if you’d like an introduction.
Intersex intersectionalities with LGBTI is also a good starting point for gay or queer readers.