“People are not genitals”

People are not genitals. I know that’s hard to believe because we’ve all met pricks in our lives.” – Jim Costich, iNTeRSExION

Did you know 1 in 2,000 individuals are born intersex? Intersex isn’t uncommon, it’s just unheard of! I learned that and much more from attending the DiversityFest screening of iNTeRSExION.

  • The term intersex is used to describe a variety of conditions where someone is born with ambiguous genitalia.
  • The word intersex has come into preferred usage (instead of hermaphrodite).
  • Intersex is not the same as transgender.
  • Top fashion model Hanne Gaby Odiele has revealed that she is intersex
  • Being born intersex is as common as being born a redhead!

Despite being relatively common, and not generally life-threatening, doctors encourage parents of intersex children to undergo surgery to make their genitals conform to the binary male or female. This has devastating consequences for the children physically, emotionally and psychologically. These surgeries continue around the world despite being condemned by the United Nations. The result is people traumatised by shame and secrecy, unable to have close relationships for fear of rejection and stigma.

The documentary tells the story of these individuals in order to educate about intersex conditions, and to persuade the medical profession to change its practice and allow individuals born with these conditions to wait until they are old enough to make their own decisions regarding genital surgery.

The film was followed by a discussion with three panelists:

  • Georgie Andrews – Intersex advocate for the South Island
  • Anne Nicholson – education coordinator at Qtopia
  • Karen Saunders – Lecturer in the College of Arts

I encourage you to learn more about intersex conditions and how 1 in 2,000 people do not conform to binary gender.

There is still another week of activities for DiversityFest – check out what is coming up.