web-intersexIntersex Awareness Day will be celebrated around the world this weekend to highlight the continuing challenges faced by intersex people, with a special event in Canberra set to discuss some of the most pertinent issues facing members of the intersex community.

Observed annually on October 26 since 1996, Intersex Awareness Day aims to educate the broader community on what ‘intersex’ is and why it is important to support intersex activists combating discrimination and stigma. Intersex is a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, and/or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female.

A cause of concern for many in the intersex community remains the ability of health professionals to perform ‘surgical corrections’ on intersex infants with ambiguous outer genitalia without their permission, with many documented cases showing that such actions potentially lead to life-long trauma and distress.

Such issues will be on the agenda at an interactive panel event organised by A Gender Agenda at the Canberra Museum on Saturday, October 26.

Featuring members of Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia, AIS Support Group Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission, the event will be open to the public and promises to allow guests to explore some of the issues intersex people face in a friendly and safe environment. Earlier this year, Australia became the first country in the world to explicitly provide anti-discrimination protections for intersex people.

OII Australia President Morgan Carpenter told the Star Observer that despite recent gains this year’s Intersex Awareness Day was all the more important, as it comes only a few days after the ACT Government decided to amend its territory-based marriage equality bill so it would no longer specifically apply to intersex people, as well as members of the transgender community.

“I feel somewhat gutted to be speaking in Canberra just days after the ACT government excluded many intersex people by downgrading its marriage equality bill to same sex marriage,” Carpenter said.

“We have members who would need to seek and obtain a new birth certificate to be eligible to marry their partners – certification that reflects governments’ demands, not individual liberty or biology.”

The first Intersex Awareness Day was held in the US in 1996 after activists from the Intersex Society of North America and allies from Transexual Menace held the first public rally for intersex rights in Boston, where the American Academy of Pediatrics was holding its annual conference.

INFO: Intersex Awareness Day will be held at the Canberra Museum and Gallery from 1pm-4pm on Saturday, October 26. Attendance is free and there is no need to RSVP.

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