The I in LGBTQIA+
Several months ago, I saw a Buzzfeed video about intersex people. It was my first time hearing that word, and since I was still in a heavily transphobic mindset at the time, watching that video really changed my point of view on the gender binary. I could no longer believe that everyone is either a boy or a girl, since this video showed me that there is biological proof that states otherwise.
What’s funny is that this isn’t the first time I was hearing about someone that wasn’t a typical cis male or cis female. I remember years ago that the fastest woman in the world lost her title because of having too much testosterone, and the word “hermaphrodite” was used to describe her. I thought that she was a one time exception to the binary at that time. But of course, I was wrong.
Now I’ve come a long way since then, since I’ve become a bit of a shitty ally in the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as recognizing how I now belong to it. I’ve recently talked to people about how the gender binary doesn’t exist, but I haven’t done so in the best way. Every time someone said “you’re either a boy or a girl” I’d come in with my script about how “intersex people exist and are as common as redheads and therefore the gender binary is destroyed. QED.”
The problem with this is that intersex people don’t exist simply to destroy the gender binary. They’re people. People whose lives and experiences have been erased in society as well as in the LGBTQIA+ community. I would argue that they suffer more from our cisnormative society than any non intersex person (whether they be cis or trans) ever has. Many of them deal with unnecessary genital surgeries in an attempt to “normalize” them, more often for cosmetic reasons than medical ones.
Some people believe that intersex people don’t belong in the LGBTQIA+ community because intersex is neither a gender identity nor a sexual orientation (even though Facebook considers intersex to be a gender identity), but from what I’ve heard from many intersex and non intersex people, it belongs there. As someone whose identities are ignored (although not nearly as much as intersex people), it’s important that I try to learn more about intersex people and speak up for them when appropriate. Of course in order to do this, I found online resources to help me out.
I had shared this post from Everyday Feminism on Facebook, and I received a like and positive comment from Pidgeon Pagonis, an intersex activist, lecturer & consultant. I then followed them, as well as Mx. Anunnaki Ray, another intersex activist. I also learn more about intersex issues from Transgender/Intersex Civil Rights Community and I follow Little Bear the Bearded Lady who, by some definitions, is intersex. I decided to put a little more effort into learning more about what makes someone intersex by reading the Wikipedia article about it, as well as currently navigating the Intersex Society of North America website.
I encourage anyone who considers themselves an ally in the LGBTQIA+ community, or anyone interested in human rights, to learn more about intersex people (and most importantly, treat them as people), since they do exist, and deserve to be respectfully recognized.