HAPPY INTERSEX AWARENESS DAY 2022 EVERYONE!
This Intersex Awareness Day, like last, our Executive Director Hida Viloria was among a group of intersex activists that participated, by invitation, in an Intersex Round Table meeting with representatives of the Biden-Harris Administration at the White House. Although all were invited to attend in person, the majority of intersex participants, including our ED, participated virtually.
This year’s Round Table was hosted by the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) LGBTQI+ Coordinating Committee, with leadership by Dr. Rachel Levine, from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, and Melanie Fontes-Rainer, Director the Office for Civil Rights. Also in attendance was intersex attorney Kimberly Zeiselman, named the US State Department’s first envoy for LGBTQ+ and intersex rights, in honor of Intersex Awareness Day. Zeiselman becomes the first intersex person to be appointed to a White House Administration position.
Last month, during a recorded virtual call with HHS staff, Viloria called on the HHS and the Biden-Harris Administration to help depatholigize intersex status, define forced and coerced medical procedures on intersex youth as a form of Conversion Therapy, and include the intersex population in data collection efforts under the category of sex. They noted that Conversion Therapy is defined as efforts to “suppress or alter” LGBT youth’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression, and that intersex youth are, similarly, subjected to efforts to suppress or alter their intersex sttus–often irreversibly so via surgeries.
Today, Viloria added that many intersex people are living and thriving without having been subjected to our form of Conversion Therapy, but that the lack of attention on this experience is creating enormous gaps in the understanding needed for the practice to end. They noted that over the years parents have shared that they found he/r work and positive experience as an intact intersex person critical to the understanding that leaving their kids’ healthy intersex traits alone was a safe option for their children; and that others have contacted he/r directly to learn more about this option.
Viloria called on the HHS to help educate–possibly via HIPPA guidelines–about the option of leaving kids’ healthy intersex traits as they are, and about the fact that intersex people can and are thriving without surgical and/or hormonal Conversion Therapy. S/he reminded the panel that intersex people such as General Casimir Pulaski, known as the “Father of the American Cavalry,” whom is credited with having saved George Washington’s life, have existed and thrived long before these harmful medical practices even existed. Viloria shared that when General Pulaski’s remains had to be relocated, scientists noticed that his body was not typically male, and, after years spent analyzing his sleletal and DNA remains, believe that he was intersex.
During last year’s Round Table meeting, Viloria noted that while the US State Department has made statements of support on Intersex Awarenes Day in recent years, intersex people are still not spoken about or treated equally. Intersex status still defined as a “Disorder of Sex Development” (or DSD) while homosexuality and more recently, transgender status, have been depathologized. They also pointed out that intersex people are not officlally included by the US government under the LGBT umbrella, although we have helped the fight for trans rights via IC4E’s ongoing lawsuit, with Lambda Legal, for third sex/gender recognition for both intersex and non-binary people on passports.
Viloria called on the Biden-Harris Administration to add the “I” to LGBTQ–as many nations have already done in order to help end the severe discrimination we face, like our LGBT siblings, due to our nonadherence to sex and gender norms–and we are deeply grateful to report that they heeded the call and did so earlier this year!
We thank the Biden-Harris Administration, the HHS, The Office of Civil Rights, and all those responsibe for this year’s Intersex Round Table for the invitation to share our perspectives and views on what is needed to obtain intersex equality! We also hope–for the sake of current and future intersex citizens–that our recommendations this year will also be implemented, amd we thank the Biden-Harris Administration, the HHS, and all involved in this work, in advance, for their efforts to do so!