Today 26 October marks Intersex Awareness Day. On this day intersex activist from Intersex Society of North America and allies from Transsexual menace held the firs intersex demonstration in Boston back in 1996. Intersex means being born with a mix of anatomical sex traits (chromosomes, genitals and/ or reproductive organs) that are not traditionally considered to be both male and female or atypical for either.
On this Day Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA) celebrates human diversity. Intersex traits are not abnormality that needs to be fixed. Intersex invisibility remains a concern especially here in Southern Africa. It is important for the voices of Intersex people to lead and take ownership of Intersex movement. “Intersex community is often forgotten and misrepresented; let’s join forces in fighting the ignorance of this vulnerable minority. Movement or activism without Intersex people themselves is nothing but agenda driven by assumptions” says Tebogo Nkoana from TIA. Intersex is still taboo and treated as a shame within our communities. Many children suffer humiliation and isolation because they are born Intersex, whereas others continue to be the subject of unnecessary irreversible and non-consensual surgical procedures from the medical sector. Over the past 5 years if not more, we have seen a significant growth of Intersex human rights work around different parts of the world. Many medical practitioners began to understand that not all Intersex bodies needs to be “fixed”, some doctors also invested in advocating for no surgical procedures when dealing with Intersex children. We have also seen an increased psychological support provided to Intersex people.
“In the past few years, through the efforts and Intersex activists, we have seen an increase in Intersex visibility within UN spaces and a few countries including Intersex with anti-discrimination legislation. This progress should not distract us from the reality that Intersex people are still victims of medical injustice and human rights violation. It is troubling that society is able to see that Female Genitals Mutilation (FGM) as a human right violation but struggle to make the same connection when it comes to Intersex Genital Mutilation, simply because the latter often happens in medical settings. On this day we should call for greater visibility on Intersex issues, greater collaboration with intersex persons themselves taking the lead. Most of all we need public and medical change when it comes to the treatment of Intersex persons. Bodily integrity and anatomy should be everyone’s right” says Nthabiseng Mokoena, Intersex Activist.
“The truth is that Intersex people need to voice and drive their agenda. It is only their voices and visibility that will be mostly relevant in contributing towards changing how the world treats and see Intersex people. Intersex issues are still misunderstood and misrepresented, in most cases not even represented at all. We encourage Intersex people especially black and rural area based to take ownership of Intersex struggle. It is our traditional leaders and social norms that influence negative and stereotype response towards Intersex people” Says Tebogo Nkoana from TIA
“I have learned to accept myself as the way that I am because this is how I was born. Being Intersex does not make me different from anybody else but makes me a special person amongst them. I realized that I was not critically ill, it is just that I was born congenital hyperplasia. I am not shameful of myself” says Keitumetse Skonta, Intersex Activist
For more information please contact:
Transgender and Intersex Africa
Click here to download the statement:
Intersex Awareness Day 2015