It’s time to get educated about ‘intersex’ people

Intersex Awareness Day is October 26.
Intersex Awareness Day is October 26.Photo: Shutterstock

Today is Intersex Awareness Day, and you may find yourself unsure what that even means.

“Intersex” refers to people who are born with sexual characteristics that don’t fit societal or medical norms for male or female bodies. This leads to discrimination and stigma, even from birth.

It’s an umbrella term that covers a wide range of natural variations of the human body. Many of these traits are visible at birth, though many may not become visible until puberty. Some chromosomal variations may not even be visible at any time.

Many intersex people faced medical “correction” shortly after birth in an attempt to make their bodies fit the expectations of medical professionals and others, sometimes without even the knowledge or consent of parents.

This sort of “correction” has included surgical and hormone treatments during infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and can often lead to sexual dysfunction and other issues.

As much as 1.7% of the world’s population is born intersex. That’s roughly the same amount that as people born with red hair.

Intersex people are often conflated with transgender people, and while there are similarities, they are distinct groups.  Likewise, intersex people can also be of a wide range of sexual orientations or gender identities.

It is only in recent years that Intersex people have begun to gain visibility and understanding.

Intersex Awareness Day was established in 2015 by Morgan Carpenter from Australia, with Laura Inter from Mexico, based in part on an earlier intersex event in 1996 to draw attention to their issues.

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