October is a significant month for intersex. October 26 marks the beginning of the Fourteen Days of Intersex with Intersex Awareness Day (IAD).
On October 26 1996 the American activist group Hermaphrodites With Attitude (HWA) teamed up with the trans activist group Trans Menace to protest against non-consensual cosmetic infant genital surgeries at the American Association of Paediatrics conference at the Hynes Centre in Boston, Massachusetts.
The protest happened in an environment where there was a high degree of certainty that infant surgeries were taking place in nearby hospitals on the day, or close to the day, of protest.
This was the first such protest in the world. Other intersex groups such as AISSG United Kingdom had been operating for some years, however, those groups were at that stage not well positioned to take the path of direct confrontation with medical practitioners.
The last day of the Fourteen Days of Intersex is November 8. This day marks Herculine Barbin’s birthday. Barbin was an intersex person who lived in France in the 19th century.
Barbin was the first intersex person to have written their biography and the earliest recorded to have been subjected to what has become a plague on intersex — the process of normalisation and binary assignments according to external appearances irrespective of internal self-knowledge and factual certainty that there is more to sex than a simple binary.
The Intersex Day of Remembrance (IDR) pays tribute to our intersex elders, past and present, on whose shoulders we stand and without whom we could never have made the advances in intersex human rights that we have made to date.
On each of the intervening days between IAD and IDR, OII will focus on one significant issue that needs to be addressed before intersex can enjoy full and unequivocally equal rights.
In disclosing how each of those issues affect intersex we hope to at the same time increase intersex awareness and education throughout the community
October has also seen intersex fully included in the current round of aged-care consultations organised in conjunction with Ageing Minister Mark Butler. OII acknowledges the LGBTI Health Alliance and ACON for ensuring that intersex issues were included front and centre. We look forward to another first for the world, a fully intersex-inclusive aged-care policy and legislation.
OII has also included Corey Irlam on its roll of honorary members.
Corey has been a tireless worker for intersex rights amongst his many other activities and an LGBTI advocate. Corey, we thank you for your friendship and hard work on our behalf.
By GINA WILSON, Oii Australia