I also know that most intersex people born in the first world are subjected to nonconsensual “normalizing” medical treatments in an attempt to ensure that they grow up to be “normal heterosexual adults.” So LGBT people are accused of being intersex and intersex people are accused of being L, G, B or T–both with detrimental effects.The “not-real-men-or-women” insult doesn’t seem to be hurled a lot at LGB folks in the U. anymore, but it still happens to trans people all the time, which brings me to the interconnections between our communities.
I found this fact incredibly useful in terms of my intersex advocacy work, and so I thought I’d share a few more.
While many people have been able to accept how homosexuality defies sexual orientation norms, this is not yet true of the way trans people, like intersex people, defy sex and gender norms.
John Money performed a study comparing a group of 250 intersex adults– all of whom had not undergone “corrective” medical procedures, as these did not yet exist- with a group of non-intersex adults, and found that they had , by John Colapinto, or order the dissertation[i] from Harvard University.) P. It certainly does not seem ethical, but then again, this is the same person who was once quoted saying, “If I were to see the case of a boy aged 10 or 12 who’s intensely attracted toward a man in his 20s or 30s, if the relationship is totally mutual, and the bonding is genuinely totally mutual, then I would not call it pathological in any way.”[ii] Lesbians used to be called “Tribades” in Europe centuries ago, and were often thought to be women with large clitorises that used them to penetrate other women[iii] (hmmm, sounds familiar…).
Also, according to writings from the 1860s[iv] through the late 19 century,[v] gay men in Europe voluntarily adopted the term “third sex” to describe themselves and others, seemingly conceiving of themselves as an intermediate sex as a means of pursuing social acceptance and avoiding the connotations with sinfulness that homosexual behavior elicited.[vi] I find this history fascinating but unsurprising because, during my own life, I’ve seen the ways in which LGBT people are often accused of not being “real” men or women, and in my mind that means they are being likened to something else–which is intersex.
Today is #Intersex Awareness Day, celebrated in honor of the first known intersex protest, held at a medical clinic in Boston exactly twenty years ago, on October 26th.
Although we’ve made a lot of progress since then, let’s face it: we still need a lot more awareness about intersex people.