Pride Palace community, today is Intersex Awareness Day! Intersex Day, observed annually on October 26, is an international awareness day to highlight the human rights issues faced by intersex people. The best way to honor Intersex Awareness Day is by remaining informed and raising awareness. Here are some things you should know to be a supportive ally to the intersex community:
1) What does intersex mean?
Intersex is a general umbrella term used for a variety of differences in sex traits or reproductive anatomy. A person who is intersex is born with reproductive anatomy that doesn't seem to fit female or male binary notions. This can take many different forms. There is not one "intersex body," as every person who is intersex is different. Similarly, intersex is not a sex either: Intersex individuals can identify as male, female, nonbinary, or however they want to.
According to experts, around 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits – comparable to the number of people born with red hair.
2) How did Intersex Awareness Day come to exist?
Intersex Awareness Day marks the first public demonstration by people who are intersex in the United States. Still, it actually did not begin as such. On October 26, 1996, the American Academy of Pediatrics was holding its annual conference. At this point, their long-held belief had been that "corrective treatment" should be applied before a baby is one and a half years old. The operation is composed of surgically creating body parts in order to assign the baby to a specific gender. It was here that intersex activists Morgan Holmes, Max Beck, and others headed to deliver a speech on long-term outcomes and to challenge their still-prevailing opinion that cosmetic surgery to "fix" intersex genitals was the best course of action. However, their ideas were not welcomed at all, and they were escorted out by guards.
While others might have viewed that as the end of their movement, they made it the beginning. A few hours later, the group of activists gathered outside with signs saying "Hermaphrodites With Attitude" in what became known as the first public intersex demonstration. These protestors went on to found the Intersex Society of North America. Their followers demonstrate in major cities in the U.S. and around the world.
3) Why is intersex activism important?
Besides assigning gender, "corrective" treatment often leaves terrible scars on those on whom it is performed. According to the Intersex Society of North America, "it sets in motion a lifelong pattern of secrecy, isolation, shame, and confusion." Furthermore, intersex individuals often face a violation of trust, lack of honest communication, and punishment for asking questions.
When "corrective" treatment (hormones and/or surgery) is used in infancy, a child is robbed of the opportunity to develop naturally with the release of hormones that accompanies puberty. This is important because, during puberty, the body changes and develops in ways that may help a child more clearly define how they identify their gender. Standing up for the intersex community is important, as everyone deserves a chance to decide who they are and who they want to be.
4) How can I show support?
There are many ways to show support to the intersex community. First, make sure to raise awareness by staying informed, posting on social media, and even donating to organizations if possible. Another way to show that you are an ally or member of the intersex community is by physically voicing your support with some unique intersex merch, and Pride Palace has got you covered.