26 October marks Intersex Awareness Day; this date commemorates the first public demonstration by intersex people and allies in 1996 against their exclusion from a clinical event.
Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that don’t fit medical or social norms for female or male bodies. People born with intersex bodies have been treated, at birth and in childhood and adolescence, based on clinical beliefs that conform to narrow social norms without any basis on evidence. These include ideological beliefs that girls and boys need to look a particular way in order to grow up to be ‘normal’, ‘productive’, and ‘functional’; i.e. heterosexual and cisgender. The consequences of these interventions result in lifelong hormone replacement, multiple surgeries, lack of sexual function and sensation, incorrect gender assignment and trauma.
For more than 25 years, intersex human rights defenders have documented and presented evidence of harm and called for change, demonstrating that there is lack of evidence supporting the unconsented and unnecessary medical interventions on intersex people. There is no evidence to support current practices, but there is much evidence, that continues to be ignored by medical professionals, condemning them as human rights violations.
A clinical desire to construct normative identities and bodies persists. In recent years, UN Treaty Bodies and other human rights organizations have supported testimonies of intersex people condemning these unethical and damaging practices, yet they still persist. This Intersex Awareness Day 2018, intersex human rights defenders around the world are calling for action.
To medical professionals: We call on you to question the current politics of evidence and their harmful consequences for intersex people around the world, and to ask yourselves question “Where is the evidence?”
To intersex people: We call on you to share your experiences on Twitter from 26 October (Intersex Awareness Day) to 8 November (Intersex Day of Remembrance), using text, videos or photos, and to join in the conversation using the hashtag #IAmTheEvidence.
Where is the Evidence? by Morgan Carpenter, GATE’s Senior Advisor on Intersex Issues.
Intersex Human Rights: Clinical Self-Regulation has Failed by Morgan Carpenter, GATE’s Senior Advisor on Intersex Issues.