Top of my news feed today was the revelation that top fashion model, Hanne Gaby Odiele, is intersex.
For those unsure, the term “intersex” means someone who was born with a mix of sexual characteristics (which may or may not be obvious) and it comes in a whole range of diagnosed conditions – or “disorders” as the medical profession regrettably terms them.
The reason why Hanne Gaby Odiele felt obliged to come out is because she wants to tackle the stigma intersex people suffer. She feels that prejudice lead to her undergoing unnecessary operations as a child and she hopes that coming out will help prevent other children going through the same trauma.
Having similar experiences of prejudice and abuse as Trans people, particularly in relation to their gender presentation, intersex people are often welcomed by Trans support groups – regardless of the fact that intersex people may not actually be Trans (i.e. Trans people are typically assigned the wrong gender at birth, whereas this may not have happened with an intersex person).
However, I feel there may be a closer relationship between Trans and intersex people…
To my mind, the fact that there are people who are born not with an XX or XY chromosome make-up, but a whole variation of Xs and Ys, allows scope for the possibility that Trans people are not actually “gender dysphoric” but born with an, as yet, undiagnosed intersex condition.
Certainly, the fact that intersex conditions exist signifies, as far as I can see, that sex is far from binary – it just doesn’t seem logical that sex can be binary when there are a whole range of medically diagnosed variations of it! So not only is gender identity non-binary but so is sex!
Obviously, people have a right to disagree but they do not have a right to bully people whether they’re Trans, intersex, or other. So, for the foreseeable future, it seems sensible we heed these accounts of abuse and pull together to defeat these prejudicial attitudes to what are clearly nothing more than variations in life.
Article written by Claire Hornby, 25th January 2017.