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Intersex People and the Right to Truth

The International Day for the Right to Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims is observed each year on March 24. The right to truth is rooted in both human rights law and humanitarian law, and thus also in human rights movements.

Over the last eighty years, around the world, intersex people have been subjected to medically unnecessary ‘normalizing’ interventions without their informed consent. Historically, ‘normalizing’ interventions have been shrouded in secrecy. Many intersex people have had the truth withheld from them regarding procedures and treatments they underwent in infancy and early childhood. As a result, intersex people not only face challenges when seeking the truth about their lives, but also when telling the truth.

The right to truth is a key component of intersex people’s human rights. As intersex people, we need to know what happened to us to be able to know ourselves, make informed decisions about our health, access appropriate rehabilitation programs and open ourselves up to healing. The right to truth includes demands for accountability, reclamation of justice, and access to adequate reparations. Knowing the truth enables us to use our experience to improve medical and legal protocols, support other people facing the same challenges and ensure non-repetition.

There are many ways that individuals and organizations can contribute to making the right to truth a reality for intersex people. It starts with supporting the intersex movement’s call to ban all non-consensual and medically unnecessary interventions.

Read more about how you can support the intersex movement in our Right to Truth Briefing.