"I am intersex and I am happy with my body" – Susannah Temko
“I am intersex and I am happy with my body” – Susannah Temko

Intersex refers to people born with any range of sex characteristics that may not fit a doctor’s notions of binary “male” or “female” bodies.

Variations may appear in a person’s chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs like testes or ovaries. Some intersex traits are identified at birth, while others may not be discovered until puberty or later in life.

According to a memo reported in The New York Times: “The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.

“Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.”

Though many wish it were so simple, you cannot force sex based on chromosomes (mine are considered typically male), and/or external genital appearance (considered externally female) without completely ignoring the truth of human physiology.

(Not to mention, that the notion of widespread genetic testing and the recording of American genitals is an affront to the notion of individual liberty.)

Information brings about a sense of control, personal control, but this is dangerous. Especially when applied arbitrarily, simplistically, and in an exclusionary fashion.

It also misses the eclectic beauty and freedom that exists naturally across the human species.

“Exclusion” makes it sound like being left out on the playground. What this definition means for intersex people is we are surgically and civically erased from our societies.

Already, without attempts to define us “out of existence”, we are fighting for our lives.

Intersex people are stigmatised, abused, discriminated against in public spheres from medicine to law to sport. Doctors in the United States, and all over the world, “continue to perform medically unnecessary surgeries that can inflict permanent harm on intersex children,” irreversibly and without said persons’ informed consent.

Intersex activists around the world have been working for decades, often without payment or recognition to educate and change.

This work has resulted in much unsung success; condemnation from numerous bodies of the UN, out-right banning of non-consensual surgeries in Malta, and three former surgeons-general Joycelyn Elders, David Satcher and Richard Carmona, who said the surgery is “not justified, absent a need to ensure physical functioning.” This is to name but a few.

This exclusion isn’t small either. If we take the estimated 1.7% incidence rate of intersex people to the American population you can approximately estimate 5.5m people who don’t fit this proposal of a genetic or genital system of categorisation.

Five and a half million people who, at the very least, must be allowed to make decisions about their body and their lives. Though this administration is trying, it cannot ignore or erase us.

Intersex, transgender, and non-binary people exist.