Intersex Activists on The Independent’s 2015 Rainbow List

The Independent, a British national morning newspaper published in London has release it’s Rainbow List for 2015. The Rainbow List is an annual celebration of pioneers and influencers in the LGBTQ and now I communities. A statement pulled from the paper’s website talks about the importance of this year’s list.   “This list, in its 16th year, would be about pioneers. It would recognize and celebrate those who had paved the way for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality, but it would also actively celebrate those who, in 2015, fought for recognition from the intersection of different cultures, religions, and identities. It would celebrate those fighting adversity. It would celebrate those actively working to raise visibility and change lives.” In an article about the list The Independent also reflected on including Intersex activists on the list for the first time. “We have five new entries in the top 10 alone. Three intersex activists now occupy two of our top five spots, demonstrating just how important we think the fight for intersex rights is.” We are excited that Intersex activists have been included in this year’s list and want to congratulate all of those named as well as those who … Continue reading

AIC Response to NIH SGM Strategic Plan

In 2010, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) commissioned the Institute of Medicine to assess the current state of knowledge about the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and to identify research gaps and formulate a research agenda that could guide NIH in enhancing and focusing research in this area. The resulting report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding, was published in 2011. Following the release of the report, NIH initiated several activities to evaluate and advance research on Sexual and Gender Minority populations. This included various forms of outreach to solicit feedback, support of extramural researchers, an analysis of the SGM portfolio to identify areas of opportunity, and the development of a strategic plan for SGM research.   The NIH 2016-2020 Strategic Plan to Advance Research on the Health and Well-being of Sexual and Gender Minorities has now been finalized. The plan is currently out for public comment; and AIC has submitted our official response about the proposed goals and objectives outlined in this SGM Strategic Plan. AIC_Response_NIH_SGM_StratPlan

Intersex Awareness Day Infographic Series

In honor of Intersex Awareness Day, AIC released a series of infographics pulled from the Intersex Factsheet published by Free and Equal Campaign from the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (UN OHCH). Please enjoy the entire series and share them as our goal is for them to be used to continue to spread Intersex Awareness.              

Gay-Straight Alliance Network publishes Intersex Resource

The Gay Straight Alliance Network, in collaboration with our Inter/Act Youth Program, published a resource guide on How to Make Your GSA Intersex Friendly. The informative document encourages GSAs to participate in Intersex Awareness Day to be in solidarity with their intersex peers to help create safe, supportive, and inclusive environments. The two page guide lists five direct actions GSAs can take to become more Intersex friendly and provides supporting information and links to online resources to help them do so. The work of the InterACT Youth Program continues to help spread awareness for the Intersex movement. The most recent installment in the series of resource brochures published by the InterACT Youth Program, What We Wish Our Friends Knew, is referenced in the GSA Network Intersex resource. Media continues to play a vital role in spreading Intersex awareness. The GSA Network resource includes a viewing guide to facilitate dialogue after GSA members watch the Buzzfeed video “What it’s like to be Intersex” featuring staff and board members of Advocates for Informed Choice, the parent organization of the InterACT Youth Program. The guide also provides a list of links to other videos, including a MTV video, documentaries and a video by The Interface Project, a series … Continue reading

What Intersex Awareness Day Means to Me: Emily

Hope. Change. Acceptance. Celebration. To me, those are the words I think of as I’m getting ready for Intersex Awareness Day.   Intersex people spend much of our lives in a negative loop. Sometime it’s a loop told to us by doctors. Sometimes it’s friends. Or family. Or school. Or society as a whole. Sometimes, it’s a negative loop we keep telling ourselves. Whatever it is, this negativity sets us back from living happy, healthy, and empowered lives as intersex people. It keeps us from appreciating our bodies, from loving ourselves, from accepting the diversities that we were born into. It’s time to break that loop. It’s time to take back those negative narratives. To me, Intersex Awareness Day is a day for us to take all the negative things the world has told or done to us, and fight back. It is a day for us to let the world know that we’re here, we’re powerful, and we’re not going anywhere, anytime soon. IAD is a day for us to celebrate our bodies! We are strong, courageous fighters, here to tell the world that it’s okay to be different. It’s time we celebrate that, and show … Continue reading

What Intersex Awareness Day Means to Me – Rebecca

I was nine years old when I asked my mother to verify that I would never have a period — just like Aunt Kacki.  I pointed out passages of “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret,” and asked repeatedly if that would happen to me.  We had never spoken about Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, the term intersex hadn’t even been coined yet.  But I knew already that I was not going to follow the normal path. I realized that I would be following my own trailblazer, I would be just like Aunt Kacki. When I was 24 years old I was ready for a baby.  We had been chosen for a child to be born in October that we would adopt.  I was painting the ceiling of the nursery blue and hand painting clouds when my Aunt Kacki called.  She had discovered another dozen people just like us.  We weren’t really the only people in the world who were intersex.  I hung up on her for the first and only time in my life. The next week, that baby was born and her mother decided to keep her.  I called Kacki that night.  My own trailblazer listened to me cry.  And … Continue reading

New UN Intersex Fact Sheet

The United Nations Human Rights Campaign just published this new fact sheet on Intersex as part of their “Free and Equal” Campaign from the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (UN OHCH). To better explain intersex issues, the fact sheet states that intersex is “an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations.”  Many of the human rights issues faced by intersex people, including forced sterilization and gender assignment surgery are outlined.   The fact sheet also clarifies that “being intersex relates to biological sex characteristics, and is distinct from a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” and states that between 0.05% and 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits. The fact sheet goes on to not only point out many of the ways in which intersex people experience discrimination but also provides a list of recommended actions for both governments and the media. AIC’s Executive Director, Kimberly Zieselman is a champion of the new fact sheet.   “The UN’s new fact sheet provides a poignant summary of various intersex human rights violations and makes a straightforward call for action including outlawing all medially unnecessary procedures on intersex children and ensuring families and children receive adequate counseling … Continue reading

Support and Advocacy – Reflections on the AIS-DSD SG Conference

Last week in Cincinnati, Ohio I attended my seventh Androgen Insensitivity – Differences of Sex Development Support Group (AIS-DSD SG) conference and am still basking in the “orchid love.” There is nothing quite like it.  About eight years ago I discovered the support group and attended my first conference in Dallas. Mind blown . Not only was I no longer alone in my experience, but there were parents, allies, children and youth as well as intersex adults connecting with one another and experiencing a weekend of validation, safety and love like I had never experienced before. Years of pent up emotions came tumbling out – happy tears. I had found my community. My story is not unique – just talk to one of the 200 hundred plus attendees at the annual conference each year. Many describe their conference experience as life changing. Over the last eight years as a member and now board member of AIS-DSD SG I have witnessed amazing positive transformation in the group with a rapidly growing increase of members who identify as gender neutral or male (until two years ago members were all female identifying intersex adults or parents of intersex children.) I have witnessed an … Continue reading

Manufacturing Comfort

    Last week’s Associated Press story featuring intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and discussion of M.C. v. Medical University of South Carolina is a strong example of a disquieting trend of wishful thinking – or excessive optimism – in recent press coverage of intersex issues.   Journalists, being human, are vulnerable to – “report events more favorably because that is what they would like the outcome to be” or – optimism bias. Unfortunately, this “tendency toward the rosy” has a long history in intersex reportage beginning with that fateful day in 1973 when John Money chose to champion his hypothesis rather than confess his failure.   Articles like the one we saw last week typically begin with the soul-baring personal story of someone born with intersex traits. It moves on to casual conflation of the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender,’ a dubious quote from a careful surgeon, and a selectively inaccurate representation of present-day intersex treatment protocols. This formula – paired with the inference that every intersex birth in the U.S. is met with a multidisciplinary team of fair-minded specialists – can lead a casual reader to believe children are no longer arbitrarily sterilized, mutilated, or deceived. … Continue reading