BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
Today is Intersex Awareness Day. Because of that, I just want to remind everyone that being intersex is real. However, it hasn’t always been taken seriously, as Hans Lindahl wrote for Them, stating, it “wasn’t until the mid 20th century that U.S. medical practitioners began paying a particular kind of attention to our natural sex differences. Since the 1950s, intersex people have been the targets of nonconsensual medical interventionsin attempts to fit our bodies into a false sex binary.”
While I am not intersex, I believe everyone should be treated with dignity, equality, and acceptance. And, you know, be believed. Everyone should be given the same benefit others have, from medical care to not being discriminated in the workforce. As someone who identifies and queer and nonbinary, I know how hard it is not to be see as the “norm,” to be treated differently in a way that makes you feel bad about yourself. I also know, from firsthand experience, we have to seek out information and educate ourselves. Our peers deserve it. All humans do.
I love this infographic. While it’s simple, it drives the point home:
Things to remember:
1. People aren’t just born male or female. Generally, there are many people who do not “fit” into either binary and also have natural variations of hormones, chromosomes, genitalia, etc. According to experts, around 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits, which as Amnesty International stated, is “comparable to the number of people born with red hair.”
2. Intersex people aren’t necessarily transgender or queer. They can be anything and identify however they like.
Supporting others literally changes lives. The best things we can do for ourselves and others is listen and learn.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (ELJ Publications, 2016) & Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes, Poetry and the managing editor for Civil Coping Mechanisms and Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared in Prelude, BUST, Spork Press, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. joannavalente.com / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente