From our Executive Director, Hida Viloria
Yesterday, our associate director Dana Zzyym returned to federal district court in Denver, Colorado, to fight for the right to have their sex/gender (the two are conflated in law) accurately recognized as neither male nor female, but intersex and non-binary. As Dana and their legal representative Paul Castillo, from Lambda Legal, later shared in an interview for 9News, Dana simply wants to be accurately recognized as who they are–neither make nor female, but intersex.
All intersex activists want an end to IGM (intersex Genital Mutilation)– the nonconsensual surgeries on intersex minors aimed at making all intersex people men or women — and what better way to facilitate this than to make the government legally recognize our existence? After all, how can we expect parents to feel comfortable allowing their kids to grow up in non-binary bodies when society does not even acknowledge the existence of non-binary citizens? For years, assimilationist activists have tried to side-step this issue by claiming that the vast majority of intersex kids will grow up to be men or women. This claim not only caters to negative attitudes towards trans/non-binary/gender nonconforming people, but it is also unfounded. Just as most gays and lesbians did not publicly identify as such before society allowed a space for them to do so, today we cannot know how many intersex people have identified, and continue to identify, as men or women simply because those have been, until recently, the only options socially available to them.
As the continuance of IGM revealed, parents did not buy the claims that their intersex children would grow up to be “normal” boys or girls without surgery to make them appear so. In addition, over the years we heard from many evolved, accepting parents who did not want force their child into a binary gender identity.
Dana filed their groundbreaking lawsuit on Intersex Awareness day 2015, which inspired third gender recognition on a state level in Oregon and California. Soon afterwards, as we predicted, a wave of doctors, medical, and human rights associations called for an end to IGM for the first time in the long twenty year plus battle against IGM, including:
— the World Health Organization
— GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association)
— the American Medical Students Association (AMSA)
— the American Medical Association board of trustees
— three former US surgeons-generals (including one who was a pediatric endocrinologist)
— Physicians for Human Rights
— Amnesty International
— United Nations experts on human rights, torture, children’s, disability, women’s, and health rights
— Lambda Legal
— Human Rights Watch.
The Intersex Campaign for Equality (formerly OII-USA) has always believed that recognizing the existence of a third gender beyond male/man and female/woman is critical to ending nonconsensual surgeries on intersex minors, because when you legally acknowledge that there is a class of citizens whose sex is not male or female but intersex, then you have to acknowledge that efforts to erase these intersex citizens from society are human rights violations based on sex discrimination, pure and simple. We commend Dana for their courage and strength in continuing to fight for all of us, and encourage all intersex people and our allies to support and promote their efforts!