Intersex is a term used to refer to people born with sex traits or characteristics that don’t fit the typical definition of either female or male. Such characteristics include their reproductive anatomy, chromosomes, and hormones. Some of the traits that make one intersex are visible while others aren’t.
In some cases, some of these traits are visible at the birth of a child while others become more apparent when the individual hits puberty or even much later in life. Other times, these characteristics may never get discovered. It’s important to note that a person who identifies as intersex isn’t the same as being transgender.
Prejudice And Discrimination
Because the bodies of intersex people don’t fit the definition of other people’s expectations and definitions regarding gender and sex, they are usually at the forefront of experiencing discrimination and prejudice. In different parts of the world, it isn’t unheard of for some to face violence as well as abandonment. In addition to this, intersex people go through unnecessary and invasive medical procedures and interventions.
In some places, babies that are born with visible intersex traits are often murdered. In areas such as China, Brazil, Southern and Eastern Africa, as well as South Asia, intersex infanticide is a major issue that affects the community.
Since intersex characteristics are viewed by some people as birth disorders or defects, medical procedures they go through have cemented the idea that intersex people require “fixing”. It’s an extremely traumatizing thing for members of the intersex community and most especially children that have no understanding to be subjected to medical interventions without their consent.
Sometimes, these procedures include the modification of internal and external genitalia, the removal of their reproductive organs, and exposure to hormonal therapy to submit their bodies into forced development of certain characteristics.
Other times, parents and doctors have deliberately withheld the status of an intersex person. As a result of the violence, prejudice, and such invasive practices, it’s common for intersex people not to seek medical attention or care.
Other than going through these traumatic experiences, intersex people also face discrimination at work, school or in places where segregation on the basis of gender is required. Intersex people typically have a difficult time obtaining ID’s and other forms of legal identification that would have to indicate their gender. In some cases, they aren’t able to access or granted identification at all. In turn, this could prevent them from getting a job, accessing education, or even opening a bank account.
The Silence Around Intersex
Unfortunately, the general silence concerning intersex has a negative effect on the mental health of intersex individuals within the community. Even though members of the intersex community feel “different” from a young age, one of the biggest obstacles they face is the inability to find people like them that are ready to open up about their experiences. They are also unable to find social support groups that would help them feel less isolated but rather have a feeling of belonging to a larger community.
On A More Positive Note…
We have highlighted some heartbreaking issues that the intersex community faces. However, being part of this diverse community isn’t all about the negatives they face. Most intersex people are completely healthy.
Fortunately, unlike many people who are constricted by societal norms of how different genders and sexual orientation should look like, intersex don’t have these same feelings. They also don’t have the same ideas of how their bodies should perform or look like. In fact, they are part of a diverse community of wonderful people that have lived different experiences and possess diverse biological traits. If that isn’t a positive thing, then we don’t know what is.