Last month October 26th was Intersex Awareness Day Oct 26, 2017 which highlighted ideas about gender and sexual orientation in a, what some may say, is sexless, but that is not necessarily true when someone identifies as intersex.
This day is in remembrance of those who have died or committed suicide because of their identification as intersex or because of their sexual orientation.
When others don’t understand confusion and fear rule the day.
We are finally beginning to talk and becoming more aware of differences in sexual orientation, gender identification, and so on.
Intersex is a new realm of understanding we are called to know enough about so we are not part of the problem and don’t discount any human based on how they identify themselves, which shouldn’t be easier said than done, but often is.
Many of the ways we are different from each other have to do with un-seen things about us, and yet unless we know something about someone we have no judgements or stigmatize them because of it.
This is true when one lives with diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. Usually there are no outward symptoms of diseases or syndromes like these, and our sexual orientation or sexual preferences are included in this list.
“What we don’t know can’t hurt us”, as the adage goes, and yet we are caught off guard and usually react negatively when someone tells us something we were unaware of about that person and find ourselves saying things like, “Oh gosh I would have never guessed…”
like anyone wants to live with a secret. Right?
Lily says…It sure wasn’t my plan…Contracting HIV. I believe it would be the same if it was a Cancer diagnosis, too. Planning denotes we have control, and like my Mom says, “We make a PLAN just, so we have something to CHANGE!” Thinking back, I sure wouldn’t have ever chosen HIV, and know now how I could have made a different decision and changed the HIV plan…Hindsight-Go figure!
It gives me a new understanding of what it must be like to have to always explain (or not!) my sexual orientation, identity or preference.
Whew HIV is quite enough, thank you!
Find the answers to many questions including, What is intersex? from Intersex Society of North America and start today.
Always a good read, Intersex Wiki which explains terms, gives history, and lists of resources for the intersex community and those who love them and whom they love.
International supermodel Hanne Gaby Odiele recently spoke out about her gender identity. By Carolyn Gregoire
“Although being intersex is relatively common, there remains a startling lack of awareness among the general population. Even as our culture has made strides toward greater understanding and acceptance of transgender rights, intersexuality remains under-recognized and taboo.”
Hanne Gaby Odiele, a 28-year-old Belgian supermodel, recently became one of the first public figures to be openly intersex.
The globetrotting model, who’s walked the runway for designers such as Chanel and Prada, has found a new role as an advocate for perhaps the most misunderstood and stigmatized gender identity. This week, Odiele announced that she will be working with InterACT, an organization that advocates for the rights of intersex youth…”
(Find the full article by clicking on the link above.)
Bodies in Doubt authored by Elizabeth Reis presents her book, “An American History of Intersex”:
What does it mean to be human? To be human is, in part, to be physically sexed and culturally gendered. Yet not all bodies are clearly male or female. Bodies in Doubt traces the changing definitions, perceptions, and medical management of intersex (atypical sex development) in America from the colonial period to the present day.
“From the beginning, intersex bodies have been marked as “other,” as monstrous, sinister, threatening, inferior, and unfortunate. Some nineteenth-century doctors viewed their intersex patients with disrespect and suspicion. Later, doctors showed more empathy for their patients’ plights and tried to make correct decisions regarding their care. Yet definitions of “correct” in matters of intersex were entangled with shifting ideas and tensions about what was natural and normal, indeed about what constituted personhood or humanity…”
- START the Conversation by being open and knowledgeable enough to make understanding better not worse by adding fiction or gossip or increase fear and stigma.
- STOP Misunderstanding by speaking up when an opportunity presents itself, or you hear someone speaking out of ignorance or prejudice.
- INTERVENE when it is Safe by calling authorities if you see violence being done to someone, or separate people at risk until the situation is safe again for them to proceed.