For the past several years I have been working on a film about people that are intersex. Intersex is biological. Intersex people are ‘naturally born’ intersex. Most people do not know what that means. Hermaphrodite is the term most often used in the past. Hermaphrodite is not accurate, as few people that are intersex are actually true hermaphrodites. Intersex is referred to by the medical community as DSD (Disorders of Sex Development). There are over thirty or more different known variations of DSD.
Intersex does not mean transgender or transexual. Some transgender or transexuals may well be intersex. Only biological medical tests can verify this. Transgender is when a person physiologically associate's or identifies with the opposite sex they were born. They ‘feel’ as if they are in the wrong body. These ‘feelings’ can be very powerful and cause traumatic psychological issues. Transexual is when a person has biologically changed their body or body chemistry to become the opposite sex they were born.
The rhetoric between transgender and transexual can often include gray areas of meaning without clear distinctions.
The biggest problem our society faces is the lack of factual knowledge or understanding about intersex, transgender, transexual and homosexual. Homosexual is the personal choice of a sexual partner when that partner is of the same sex. The term ‘homosexual’ by definition, may or may not apply to intersex, transgender or transexual persons. It is very confusing to many. In fact, it is even confusing to many people caught in the social construct of male and female.
The question we now face is how does our society deal with those issues when it comes to public areas such as restrooms. In one camp, we have those of the trans and LGBT community that would prefer to open up all public restrooms to either sex if the person falls within the transexual, transgender or even intersex category. Let me be clear here, intersex people sometimes truly are both sexes biologically. They may have both biological organs internally or externally.
On the other side of the issue we have many people, rightfully so I feel, that feel their privacy rights and the privacy rights and safety of their children are being ignored. Our society is not made up of all trans people, nor of all non-trans people. As a society our role is to accommodate both groups as well as possible. Our legislators of course will often take a knee jerk reaction toward one side or the other. Which has always in the past proven to be wrong.
Any legislation on this issue will create a stir. I do not want to see children put in jeopardy by someone who dresses like a female only to have access to female locker rooms and bathrooms, or vice versa. It is a public danger and does create a public nuisance from those that find ‘costuming’ will get them private access for voyeurism, stalking or worse.
At the same time we have a significant segment of our population that is either intersex, transgender or transexual. How do we accommodate all groups on both sides of the issue? And how does policing on these guidelines operate? I feel the only solution is that our society and public facilities must adapt. It is not an easy issue.
Certainly not every restaurant, bar, school or organization can afford a ‘third facility’. At the same time I personally feel it is wrong to force all public restrooms to be unisex. Although making some public restrooms unisex is an option. We currently have handicap stalls in many restrooms. Adding a notation on the doors of handicap stalls that as an option they may also be used by gender variant persons is also an option. Allowing businesses their own freedoms to adapt acceptable policies is important.
When it comes to school policies again we have variations. Is the ultimate goal ‘privacy for gender variant individuals’? Do they require a separate stall or locker room area? Legislators are not the best groups to make these laws. Restrictions must be lenient and flexible enough to work across large sectors of our society. Clear signage and designations are also important so there is no confusion.
In the end, policing restrictions and legislation are no substitute for information, education and understanding.
If you would like more information on intersex or to support our film, please visit our website at http://www.bornbetween.com. Read the personal stories. Join the conversation on our Facebook page or watch informative and personal videos on our Youtube channel.