not_disorderedIntersex advocacy group, OII Australia, is calling on all members of the LGBTI community to advocate for the rights of intersex.

Intersex advocacy group, OII Australia, is calling on all members of the LGBTI community to advocate for the rights of intersex.

The local branch of the Organisation Intersex International, the largest intersex organisation in the world, says the belief that all humans are either male or female is wrong and demands full human rights for intersex, including the right to identify as neither male nor female.

Intersex, the little known ‘I’ in LGBTI, refers to those born with anatomical characteristics of both sexes or with ambiguous genitalia. It includes people with an extra X chromosome and those with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Intersex was once referred to as ‘hermaphrodites, though this label has since been rejected as insulting and incorrect.

OII President, Gina Wilson, claims intersex are victims of many human rights violations. These include surgical intervention and ‘gender reassignment of intersex babies, as well as the use of controversial pre-natal ‘anti-Lesbian drug’ dexamethasone, a steroid designed to ‘cure’ CAH but which has the side effect of reducing the likelihood of a female baby being born gay.

Wilson says the pressure to conform to traditional sex roles leads to marginalisation, discrimination and mental health issues. They are also at high risk of depression with their youth suicide rate at 30 per cent.

Wilson claims intersex are the forgotten members of the LGBTI community, and the push for gay and lesbian equality, such as the campaign for marriage rights leaves intersex more marginalised than ever.

“OII Australia is dedicated to raising awareness of intersex and eliminating all discrimination on the basis of sex”, says Wilson. This includes raising awareness of intersex amongst the LGBTI community. Ideally, says Wilson, “We would like all of the LGBTI community to speak for intersex.”

Wilson says one way to reverse the poor human rights status of intersex is to remove sex markers on official documents, which she claims are unnecessary. “The government must stop denying the existence of intersex individuals,” she says.

“The male-female sex binary is an illusion,” continues Wilson, because intersex is much more common than its low public profile would suggest.

University of Queensland geneticist, Peter Koopmans agrees, saying there are up to 832,000 intersexuals in Australia, with “four per cent of live births affected”.

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