Trans-intersex coalition: 1996 – now

Note: Some of the dates in the original posting have been corrected.

Intersex Awareness Day is observed on October 26th in commemoration of the first North American intersex protest, in 1996 in Boston, where the American Academy of Pediatrics was holding their annual meeting. As demonstrated in the picture below, the trans and intersex alliance is historic, with allies from the group Transexual Menace (white and red text on black t-shirts)) joining intersex protestors under the awesome Hermaphrodites with Attitude banner at the ’96 protest. “Hermaphrodites with Attitude” was the name of the first American intersex organization, The intersex Society of North America (ISNA)’s newsletter. (Note: ISNA has been defunct since 2008.)

However, we would be remiss not to mention that there has also been tension between the trans and intersex communities over the years, with transphobia and interphobia displayed by some in each of our communities. As a non-binary intersex founded and led organization, we have always worked in coalition with our trans siblings, rejected transphobia, and recognized the deep connections between our oppression.

In 2007, our founding director called attention to transphobia and homophobia within the intersex movement. The medical establishment had re-classified intersex traits as “Disorders of Sex Development” (or DSDs) in 2006, at the request of the Intersex Society of North America (defunct since 2008). It was done, proponents claimed, in order for parents to be able to bring home normal baby boys or girls “with a DSD” rather than third gender/non-binary associated “intersex” babies. Viloria outlined the inherent transphobia involved in imposing the pathologizing label on intersex babies, and the psychological harm they believed DSD would cause to intersex youth, in particular, in an article for The SF Weekly.

On Intersex Awareness Day 2015, our associate Director Dana Zzyym filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit for a passport which accurately recognizes their sex/gender as neither male nor female. In doing so, we consulted Lambda Legal, Zzyym’s legal representatives in the case, on using an X signifier for the third sex/gender passport option, instead of an I for intersex. We knew that the use of an I would encourage biology based access to third gender markers which would make access to non-binary legal identification more difficult for those who aren’t intersex. We acknowledge and support that sex/gender markers needn’t be dictated by sex traits at with, and chose an X in order to work in solidarity with non-binary people who aren’t intersex. The case, while still pending, opened the floodgates to X third gender legislation, on a statewide level, in eleven states to date.

As support and understanding between LGBTQIA community members has grown stronger, and more trans and non-binary intersex people become vocal members of the community, the intersex and trans alliance has strengthened. Earlier this year, for example, we were thrilled to witness this alliance in the form of unprecedented celebrity support. Inspired by their connection with non-binary intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis, co-founder of the Intersex Justice Project, non-binary trans actor Indya Moore took to social media in support of ending intersex infant surgeries. In the process they inspired their fellow trans actors of color Angelica Ross and Gabrielle Union to do the same, as seen in the pictures below.

We thank all our trans allies over the years for their support, and our trans siblings in the intersex community for standing strong and proud outside the sex/gender binary, as we do.