People are born male or female. Right?
There’s more to sex than just male and female.
Learn more about intersex rights by screening the documentary film Intersexion and hosting a question and answer session afterwards with local intersex activists. According to the filmmakers, in this documentary, “intersex individuals reveal the secrets of their unconventional lives – and how they have navigated their way through this strictly male/female world, when they fit somewhere in between.”
Host a screening of Intersexion
Learn more about intersex rights
Who are intersex people?
- People who have sex characteristics that fall outside the typical binary of male or female. Variations can occur with their primary and / or secondary sex characteristics.
- An estimated 1.7% of children in the world are born with variations of sex characteristics.
- Not everyone with such variations describes themselves as intersex.
- Primary sex characteristics: Internal and external genitalia, reproductive systems, hormone levels, sex chromosomes
- Secondary sex characteristics: pubic hair, enlarged breasts, facial hair, pitch of voice
- Being intersex is about biological features, not gender identity.
- It’s not about your sexual orientation either – intersex people have many sexual orientations.
Challenges intersex people face
Societies tend to box individuals into male/female categories, so many intersex children undergo surgery in an effort to “normalize” them. These medical interventions are often:
- Not emergency-driven
- Performed on children who are too young to consent
- Performed even though parents are not given adequate information
Effects on intersex people
Many people report lasting negative impacts on their:
- Physical health
- Sexual lives
- Psychological well-being
- Gender identity
- Future fertility
These practices violate a number of human rights: the right to health, to a private life and to bodily integrity, the right to freedom from discrimination, and the right not to be treated based on gender stereotypes.
The role of parents
- Parents of children who are too young to give consent have to decide for them.
- They are often not provided with adequate information to make an informed decision.
- They often feel under pressure to make their child ‘fit’ into male or female ‘boxes’.
- Parents should be offered information and support to make the right choice for their children, not pressured to consent to surgery on their child based on how society expects them to look.
Protecting intersex peoples’ rights
- It is the duty of the state to uphold the rights of intersex people and guarantee their bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination.
- States should ensure that invasive, non-emergency and irreversible surgeries are not performed on children until they are able to give their informed consent.
- They should develop and implement a rights-based healthcare protocol and take steps to regulate healthcare providers in order to do so.
Intersex bodies do not need “normalizing”! Get involved with Amnesty's advocacy in support of LGBTI rights.