Friday, October 30, 2009

A grand marshal who is ‘uniquely different’

Officer Dani Lee Harris is first intersex person to lead Pride parade

Oct 30, 2009 | By: DYANA BAGBY

AS A GRAND MARSHAL of this year’s Atlanta Pride parade, Officer Dani Lee Harris, the LGBT liaison for the Atlanta Police Department, plans to wear her uniform proudly despite the controversy surrounding the APD’s recent raid of the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar.

“I do understand why there’s controversy, but I wish people would give Atlanta Pride a break,” Harris said. “A lot of truths will come out [of the ongoing internal investigation of the raid] and as a member of the GLBTQI community I don’t want this to mess up the event.”

Harris was not involved in the Sept. 10 raid and didn’t learn about it until contacted by the media the morning after it occurred. The outcry from LGBT citizens that followed forced Chief Richard Pennington and top brass of the APD to hold a police conference where Pennington acknowledged Harris should have been involved in the investigation of the gay bar from the beginning. But all that is over for right now, Harris said, and now is the time for the community to come together.

“How hypocritical can we be at times?” she said. “We get upset because of people stereotyping us and I feel the same when I’m in blue. For everyone to take all the good officers and clump them in with the bad, that’s discrimination. They’re looking at the uniform and not the individual.”

Harris, the first intersex grand marshal of an Atlanta Pride parade, said fellow LGBT people asked her not to wear her uniform in the parade.

“I was not part of what happened [at the Eagle],” she said. “I’m wearing my uniform proudly and I’m representing all the good officers. I refuse to not be who I am.”

The Atlanta Pride Committee announced Harris and Rev. Chris Glaser as this year’s two grand marshals in a press statement released Sept. 22, not quite two weeks after the raid. The decision was met by outrage from some LGBT people, and allies, who felt it was inappropriate to honor an APD officer in the wake of the raid.

The backlash then forced the Atlanta Pride Committee to issue an open letter to the community, defending its selection of Harris. Harris was one of two nominees, explained J. Sheffield, events manager for Pride. The decision was made before the raid, and to take back the honor was simply not an option, he said.

“This is a tough one for us,” Sheffield told SoVo in September. “She did not do anything to warrant us taking the honor away from her. We selected her because of her contribution to the community and we need to honor that.”

HARRIS GREW UP IN SPANISH HARLEM in an abusive household, shuffled between foster homes and nearly killed when shot in the face a decade ago. Her mother, who suffered from lupus and numerous other medical issues, spent much of her time in the hospital. She died at the age of 40 when Harris was 17, forcing Harris and her older sister to raise their younger siblings.

“We were literally dirt poor. I remember eating oatmeal cookies for dinner,” Harris said.

Harris overcame all of these hardships and built a career with the APD, but faced an internal struggle nobody knew about — one she never understood until last year. During puberty, she began growing facial and chest hair. She never had a regular menstrual cycle. Emotionally, she said, she had a rage that couldn’t be controlled.

Numerous medical later revealed Harris’ testosterone levels were much higher than the range for even the average male. At first, the doctor worried Harris may have brain tumors because her testosterone levels were so high. Harris then began months of medical testing with an endocrinologist that eventually concluded with a chromosome test that revealed Harris had the XY chromosome — the male chromosome. But she also had female reproductive anatomy. The diagnosis was that she is intersex.

For Harris, who continues to identify as female but legally changed her name from Darlene to Dani Lee, a more gender-neutral name, finding out she is a male genetically felt like a heavy burden being lifted from her shoulders. Finally, she had an explanation for why she felt so different from everyone else, even sometimes within the queer community.

There are numerous variations to being intersex. Curtis Hinkle, who founded Organization Intersex International six years ago, said at last count he understood there were approximately 80 variations of being intersex, some extremely rare. Because there are so many variations, it is difficult to determine how common it is ...

Intersex Infant-Surgical Abuse

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Julie Bindel, Yet Again.

By Sophia Siedlberg

I don't really know what to make of Julie Bindel. Her anger at transsexual folks is interesting because she can write some pretty horrible things about them, and yet when they respond in kind, she accuses them of witch hunting. The way I perceive that is actually quite simple. She, being born fully of one or the other sex with no issues with that, has the right to beat up on those who were not. At the same time they cannot answer her back because she has "cisgendered privilege" (To use the official terminology).
But given that this privilege is given to every "cisgendered" individual, and no one questions it, she can hardly be singled out for doing it. Lots of people do it. She is one among many. Making an example of her while avoiding the wider issues does not say much. Though having said that, she should also not complain when people react to her writings in kind. I tend to think that concepts like right and wrong are more important than the two sex system; if she dishes it out she should expect the same back.
To read the complete article: Click here

Monday, October 26, 2009

Designing the margin of feasible bodies

Truths and binary oppositions in the construction of sexes-genders-sexualities

The controversy around the gender of the South African athlete Caster Semenya is by no means unprecedented. As Nuria Gregori and Silvia Garcia Dauder write, the world of sport is a social microcosm that reveals much about the role of assumptions concerning biological sex in a psychosocial logic in which gender identity, sexual orientation or sexual practice exerts maximum authority.

Download the article (pdf): Click here

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Rights-Based Framework for Medical Intervention with Intersex Infants

“Pink or Blue?” – A Rights-Based Framework for Medical Intervention with Intersex Infants

Paper for the 5th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights

Halifax, Nova Scotia 23-25 August 2009



Download the report (pdf): Click here

Friday, October 23, 2009

Curious Art

Ins is the founder of IVIM, which is the German affiliate of OII

German intersex artist Ins A Kromminga is in India to exhibit his/her art at the Nigah Queer Festival ’09 that opens on Friday

Anindita Ghose

Ins A Kromminga has just arrived in Delhi. He/she met artist and curator Sunil Gupta earlier this year at a queer arts forum in Spain. On seeing Kromminga’s drawings and learning that he/she was keen to exhibit in India, Gupta invited the intersex artist to the Nigah Queer Festival that will open on Friday and run through 1 November in New Delhi. The 10-day festival is organized by Nigah—a Delhi-based queer collective that works on issues of gender and sexuality.

When we meet, Kromminga is already at work creating an onsite installation for the visual art exhibition as part of the festival. One corner of Siddhartha Hall at Max Mueller Bhavan, where the exhibition will be held, hosts a gigantic organic form that seems to be all tentacles and germinating buds. On this, the artist will paste around 40 of his/her charcoal and watercolour paintings that follow various gender-related themes drawn from mythology and pop culture.

Among his/her favourites is an interactive poster called Public Interest that is inspired by a 1500s artwork that he/she saw in an art encyclopaedia. The viewer can raise a flip portion on the painting of a man to reveal his genitals. For Kromminga, this is a throwback to the perverse curiosity of society and the ridicule that intersex individuals have had to face the world over.

Born in Emden, Germany, in 1970, Kromminga found out about his/her intersexness only at the age of 30. When Kromminga hit puberty, he/she knew that something was different but he/she wasn’t sure what. At 18, doctors had removed his/her testicles, telling him/her that he/she had inflamed ovaries that needed to be operated upon. It was only when Kromminga was applying for graduate school in 2000 that he/she saw his medical records and learned that he/she was born as an intersex or hermaphrodite. This discovery came just before Kromminga started a master’s programme in art at the Tulane University in New Orleans, US. Then, Kromminga started drawing, furiously and prolifically. Much of his/her art education and practice has hence been informed by this identity. Around this time, Kromminga also got involved with several grass-roots level human rights organizations that fight for intersex, transgender and queer people.

Kromminga has been living and working as an intersex artist in Berlin since 2003. He/she works in public spaces as well, putting up hermaphrodite signs in public toilets, for instance. Activism is an important aspect of his/her art. “There is so much that needs to be told,” says Kromminga with a characteristic softness. Kromminga explains that his/her major struggle is against dichotomies. “Amongst intersexuals, there are some who can carry babies, some who can impregnate others. But I wouldn’t call them female or male,” says Kromminga, adding, “I know people who live and look like men but have carried babies.”

Click here to view a slideshow of Ins A Kromminga’s curious art

Kromminga’s work will be part of the third edition of the Nigah Queer Festival that will have film screenings, a visual arts exhibition, evening performances, workshops and panel discussions. A photography workshop by Sunil Gupta on visualizing sexuality and the book launch of film-maker and activist Nishit Saran’s Lurkings are other highlights of the festival.

Using his/her paintings, Kromminga will also make a presentation on his/her work as an intersex artist. A public discussion on the need for establishing an Indian discourse on queer art will follow in which he/she will be joined by Shivaji Panniker, former professor of art history at MS University, Baroda.

Images of Desire: Queer Fantasy, which includes Kromminga’s artworks, will be on at Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi, from 23 October-1 November. For the complete festival schedule, visit

Source: Click here

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A case for bending the rules on gender

October 23, 2009 Edition 1

David A Fahrenthold

WHAT'S the difference between a man and a woman? The question seems too silly to be science. Its answer is so obvious that every stand-up comic has a different way of saying it. (Even the gender jokes break down by gender: male comics say women go to the bathroom in packs. Woman comics say men wouldn't understand what they talk about in there anyway.)

But the difference is only obvious most of the time.

In some unusual cases, resulting from sex-change operations or medical conditions, the usual indicators of male and female can contradict each other in the same body. The best-known recent example is South African athlete Caster Semenya, who has been put through "gender verification" amid suspicion about her muscular physique and low voice.

But the same confusion has cropped up in legal battles over who can be married to whom, and when the "M" on a driver's licence can be changed to "F."

It can also intrude into the lives of ordinary people, when medical diagnoses reveal that their hormones, chromosomes or anatomy don't sit entirely on one side of the line.

These cases have left judges, doctors and athletics officials - those tasked with drawing a bright line between the sexes - struggling to find a reliable gender test, some trait that divides men from women.

But scientists say they don't have one yet. "I think most people think of it in binary terms - that is, you're either one or the other," male or female, said Myron Genel, a professor emeritus of paediatrics at Yale University.

Researchers say it is difficult to know how common cases of conflicting gender indicators are. Some people are reluctant to make their conditions public, and others may live and die not knowing they have them.

In total, scientists estimate, one in every 100 people has some kind of "disorder of sex development," in which one indicator of sex is subtly or severely out of step with the others.

The signposts of a person's sex include the chromosomes, X and Y and others, that are the blueprints for sexual development. Hormones such as testosterone and oestrogen are the chemical messages. There is sexual anatomy, built on those chemical orders.

And there is a psychological sense of identity - which some scientists refer to as "gender," as opposed to "sex", which is everything physical.

But the signs don't always point in the same direction.

The reasons can include "androgen insensitivity syndrome", in which people born with XY chromosomes, which is considered the combination for maleness, do not respond to testosterone.

In cases of "complete insensitivity" - which occur once every 20 000 births, according to the US-based National Institutes of Health - the chemical signal to turn male is missed.

These children are born looking like girls and grow up as women, and may not discover their condition until adulthood. Other conditions can set women's hormones and genetics at odds in the opposite way, making them appear unusually masculine despite their female XX chromosomes.

And still others can create confusing markers of sex in men, leaving them with male anatomy and hormone levels but two or more X chromosomes.

In other cases, the cause of the disagreement is a sex-change procedure; in these circumstances, anatomy and chromosomes would no longer agree. The National Centre for Transgender Equality estimates that 0.25 percent to 1 percent of the US population has changed gender, or intends to in the future.

Together, cases such as these have led some researchers to believe it is impossible to find a universal boundary between male and female.

"There is not one sign or unique parameter or marker ... that clearly defines sex - as in separates, unequivocally, males from females," said Eric Vilain, a professor of human genetics at UCLA.

But in athletics and the law, which often insist that a person be considered either male or female, authorities are still looking for a line.

In sports, the first gender test was the simplest. In the 1960s, women athletes in some events had to parade nude in front of judges. The judges weren't looking for chromosomes - they were looking for male anatomy.

A man had, apparently, competed as "Dora" for Germany in the 1936 Olympic high jump (and finished fourth in the women's event). In the late 1960s, this was replaced by a less humiliating test of genetic samples. But this process wasn't perfect: It "failed" female athletes with androgen insensitivity syndrome, since their genes made them seem male.

Now, most international sports groups, including the Olympics, have stopped requiring all female athletes to undergo gender testing (male athletes never had to). The logic is that regular drug testing, which requires officials to watch as the athletes urinate, will still screen out masquerading males.

But the rules still allow competitors or judges to request one of these tests on a female athlete. That's what happened to Semenya, who won the 800-metre race at the August world championships and whose case reveals that sports officials are still struggling with how to tell that a woman is a woman.

News reports have said Semenya has been found to have testes inside her body, calling her a hermaphrodite - a term that scientists in the field say is outdated. But even that may not disqualify her - the track association's rules permit some athletes to compete as females.

Watching this process, some experts on sexual development have said the track association's standards are too murky and that, for the sake of simplicity, they should pick one trait as the be-all, end-all marker of sex.

The international track federation said this month that it plans to hold a symposium soon to discuss changes to its gender-testing policy. Alice Dreger, a professor at Northwestern University, said officials might decide based on an athlete's upbringing. If she was brought up as a girl, she should be counted as a woman. Or they could set a threshold for male hormones in an athlete's blood - too much, and she would run with the men.

"To me, it's no different than deciding where the foul line is," Dreger said. "The line is not drawn by nature, it's a line we draw on nature."

At the same time, courts and the government agencies in the US have been engaged in a parallel struggle to define gender, mostly driven by cases where people have changed their sex and want the government to recognise it.

In the DC suburbs, for instance, many authorities have decided on a simple test: Surgery makes the gender. In Maryland and Virginia, for instance, officials will alter the sex on a driver's licence if presented with proof of sex-reassignment surgery.

But nationally, legal experts say that some courts have balked at the very idea of a sex change. Some state appeals courts have said someone born a man remains so, no matter how their bodies have changed.

In one 2002 case - voiding a marriage between a man and a transgender woman - the Kansas Supreme Court based its gender test in part on Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary. Male, the dictionary said, meant "designating or of the sex that fertilises the ovum and begets offspring: opposed to female."

By that logic, the court said, the transgendered woman was not female, at least not in Kansas.

These issues are difficult enough at a judge's remove - they can be more difficult for people who discover a medical condition that touches on their own gender.

Doctors say they often struggle to break the news: to tell a woman who has come in for infertility treatment, for instance, that her chromosomes are XY. - The Washington Post


Caster Semenya ’as a future athletic force should not be ruled out just yet!’


Gold Medal Winner, Caster Semenya, is still under heavy speculation for the validity of her career. Questions concerning her gender have polarized the world and forced the South African government to throw their whole weight behind her. As her sympathizers hold their breath ahead of results from an IAAF gender test, many have questioned the morality of the media and the psychological impact of such intrusion in the young athlete’s life. Questions that remain to be answered are whether the IAAF should encourage her to persevere as her natural self or encourage her to undertake a surgery, and whether testosterone guarantees a win?

What started off as a dream come true on August 19 at the Berlin Summer Games, quickly turned into a harrowing affair for Caster Semnya. As many of her fellow winning athletes gave interviews and basked in the glory that followed their feat, Caster Semenya was condemned to stay on the sidelines and watch her victory scorned. "I think she is clearly a man," Elisa Cusma, an Italian athlete, told Rai TV after the 800 m final. At that point, her coach, Michael Seme told the UK Daily Mail, “It’s a natural reaction that people will ask questions because she looks like a man. It’s only human to be curious. But she has nothing to hide”. For the mainstream media, this was catnip for a cat. Some, like the Daily Telegraph, went as far as setting up outrageous opinion polls on whether or not Caster is a man or a woman. Semenya’s plight was far from over.

Without any proof, media outlets concluded that Semenya must be a ‘hermaphrodite’. She is not. Although it has not been proven in Caster Semenya’s case, the accepted medical terminology to define this rather common phenomenon is ‘intersex’. Hermaphrodite, is used to describe a person who does not fit the typical definitions of female or male. In such instances, a person might be born appearing to be one sex on the outside, but having an opposite anatomy on the inside. On the other hand, however, the term “hermaphrodite” is no longer thought to be appropriate, as it implies that a person is both fully male and fully female, which is physiologically impossible.

In the case of Semenya, unconfirmed reports have claimed that the tests ordered by the IAAF revealed that she carries a level of testerone, three times higher than an average woman, among other things. As much as the news may have come as a total shock to both herself and her parents, the moral duty lies with the IAAF to decide on whether a socially accepted female should be barred from having a career in sports. Many are those who consider that Semenya should not be allowed to keep her medal, even though the IAAF has said that “this is a medical issue and not a doping issue where she was deliberately cheating,” But snatching her hard earned title from her would call for an examination of all former medalists including the most feminine looking! It is believed that a number of intersex persons may appear entirely female or male.

No cancer

But to continue her career as a sportswoman, some sympathizing observers have suggested that Caster may have to consider undergoing a medical operation with unknown side effects to get rid of the supposed elements that produce the high levels of testosterone. A debate questioning whether or not intersex individuals should endure surgery has been ongoing for many years. According to some experts at the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), it is appropriate to have competent surgeons perform the operation if it resolves a life-threatening metabolic crisis, i.e; if an individual is born without a urinary opening. Otherwise, surgery is not necessary, especially, if it is to respond to societal pressures, which require that gender be set as male or female.

Responding to some media speculations over cancer related risks concerning the surgical procedure that could enable her continue her career in sports, Dr. Ly, a cancerologist, says there are not enough elements to rule on this issue, however, “a high level of testerone does not expose the athlete to cancer,” he said. Dr. Levet, a plastic surgeon agrees with Dr.Ly and believes that the effect of an operation is likely to be more psychologically related than physiological, “the desire for the operation needs to come from Semenya herself, otherwise it can have dramatic psychological consequences,” he affirmed. Both Dr Ly and Dr Levet practice in Paris. Considering the psychological stress the 18 year old has already undergone, it is unlikely she will take any such decision, but “if she considers it as a career, I think she has proved to South Africans that she is strong minded enough to handle the controversy that may arise out of such an operation” says Anouar Swartz, a South African.

With or without testosterone?

But Anouar wonders whether or not Caster will still "be endowed with her remarkable horse-power without the" presumed "high levels of testosterone after such an operation?" A specialist sports doctor in Paris, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the case, told that “high levels of testosterone in a woman can contribute to the increase in muscle mass – and also accounts for deeper voices as well as the redistribution of body fat… But nothing so far, has proven that it can help a woman like Caster win her races. This was seen in the case of Santhi Sounarajan as she did not win her race but only came second!”

Indeed, Santhi Soundarajan an Indian 800 meter runner was deprived of a silver medal in Doha in 2006 at the Asian games when she failed her femininity test. What should be noted here is that Santhi did not win gold although she had higher than ordinary female testosterone levels. In Caster Semenya’s case, she did not just win gold but also broke a world record. From a logical standpoint, she has what it takes to win gold without the elevated levels of testosterone. It all depends on her future choice and psychological strength, to face up to an unrelenting media and their humiliating polls. From all indications, Caster, with or without those elevated levels of testosterone remains an irrevocable powerhouse.

Nonetheless, Caster’s remarkable psychological strength has proven shaky in recent times. Not strange. With not as much as half the publicity and ridicule Caster was subject to, Santhi Soundarajan, after the 2006 Asian games attempted suicide. A couple of weeks ago, Miss Semenya informed the University of Pretoria, where she studies sports science, that she will not be able to take her exams. Her trainer, Michael Seme told the Afrikaan Daily that he suspected the trauma was only hitting her now. “Fortunately, the university has a good understanding of her situation and made it clear to her that exams are the last thing she should worry about at the moment. It is very important for all of us that Caster deals with the trauma in her own way, but we are all here for her if she needs us,” he was quoted as saying.

The South African government showed their displeasure with the indiscretions of the IAAF following their lack of confidentiality in the affair. As a result, the South African Minister of Women and Children, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, decided to launch a complaint before the United Nations and demand an investigation. "There was "blatant disregard" for Semenya’s "human dignity," he declared. On October 6th, the African National Congress (ANC) finally decided to take action and create a task force to support and protect Caster Semenya and her family. The team, lead by secretary general Gwede Mantashe, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife) and Dr. Manto Tshbalala-Msimang, is expected to provide medical and legal assistance to the World Champion.

The entire international scene is still awaiting the IAAF’s test results, which should be revealed at some point in November. If the tests are positive, Caster Semenya will have to decide as to whether or not she will undergo that operation. If she accepts the challenge and with the near motherly support her government has shown, Caster Semenya will undoubtedly reign supreme in her discipline and prove to the world that testosterone does not necessarily guarantee a victory win. All in all, "the possibility of Caster Semenya as an athletic force and champion should not be ruled out just yet," says the specialist sports doctor.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Intersex Australians are Placed on a Sex Offenders Register

Article posted on OII-Australia's website:

Commentary by Sophia Siedlberg, OII-UK

The Nonce Trap.

Imagine a teenage girl with some virilizing intersex condition. It is not all that uncommon, and one of the treatments available to help with this is an androgen blocker called Cyproterone Acetate. In Australia it turns out that should someone in this situation have the need to make use of this option, they are automatically placed on the sex offenders register. You could argue that is just some strange oversight in terms of the legal aspects of prescribing certain types of drugs. It is true that Cyproterone Acetate is given in high doses to sex offenders as a part of managing their sexual appetite. But the self same drug is given to men with prostate cancer and men with prostate cancer are not put on the sex offenders register.

So a teenage girl with high androgen levels would be deemed as the same as a 40 year old man with a criminal record for sex crimes.

Who dreamed that up?

Well, I would level one accusation at the idiot who did, that they are themselves a sex offender who likes abusing teenagers and enshrining that in law. It is not so much about bigotry as about describing someone who would under many circumstances be considered vulnerable to abuse from sex offenders. Why? So they get sent to a clinic that treats sex offenders, as bits of abusable meat? Why would someone make the system work that way? Because they are a disgusting child abusing pervert themselves, perhaps?

This is not an isolated case. In the UK there is a clinic where children with certain conditions are put into the same waiting rooms as child abusers, presumably so the child abusers have someone to fiddle with instead of reading magazines. In the US the system is probably as bad, with doctors whose primary area of study is pedophilia, somehow, magically being experts on "Gender variant children". Why, I would ask. Well perhaps again we are talking about using such children as substitute targets of abusers, or worse, as children the doctors can themselves legally abuse?

It is revolting enough to call a child or an adult with an intersex condition a "sexual deviant"; but to expose them to rapists and nonces, as "substitute meat" makes me feel physically sick. Why? Because it is obvious to me that someone who would create such a policy trap is worse than a pedophile. They are like legal or medical pimps who legitimise the sexual abuse of children and legally vulnerable adults. Such people are so depraved that they are the ones that society should be protected from.

If you are a parent living in a country where such policy traps exist and your child has any of the conditions that would require access to certain medications or certain types of medical care, the law could require you to hand your child over to be sexually abused and there will be nothing you as a parent can do about it. The state wants to put your child in some legal brothel, strip them of all legal rights and ensure that they suffer. For what end?

I would suggest strongly that parents, affected adults and anyone who has any morality make a point of finding such policy makers out, reporting them to the authorities and ensuring they are placed where they belong. In prison, for prostituting certain people as "substitute meat". These policy makers are little more than disgusting perverts themselves and society should be protected from them and the perverts they hand your children over to.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

SIPD Uganda contests III World Congress in Toronto

As an intersex African and a rights activist for intersex children and people in Uganda, it concerns me greatly that convenings aimed at discussing intersex issues never have intersex representation - except of infants, who are paraded as specimens rather than human beings. The time is ripe that a human rights approach is applied when addressing intersex people and issues and that we - as intersex people - are involved in these discussions and intervention strategies. Intersex may not be the typical but how 'disorderly' it is, is a debatable subject. SIPD Uganda challenges the 3rd World Congress on Hypospadias scheduled for November 12-15 2009, to consider intersex in its entirety and to desist from painting a medically biased and stigmatising picture of the body politics involved in intersexuality. We strongly contest the live non-consensual surgical demonstrations of intersex infants as part of the congress activities.
Julius .K. Kaggwa
Program Director
Support Initiative for People with atypical sex Development (SIPD) Uganda
Physical Address: Plot 1, Block 342 Albert Cook Rd. Rubaga-Wakaliga.
Postal Address: P.O. Box 31762, Namirembe Rd, Kampala. Uganda.
Tel: +256 757386740.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two Spirits

The film will screen at 12:30 p.m. in the 520-seat King Center Concert Hall on the University of Colorado at Denver’s downtown Auraria campus. The film will be followed by a panel discussion and reception, and the event will be hosted by the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Fred Martinez was nádleehí—someone who possesses a balance of masculine and feminine traits—a special gift according to his traditional Navajo culture. But his determination to express his truest identity tragically cost him his life. At age sixteen, he was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was murdered in Cortez, Colorado.

Visit the website:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Toronto hosts pro-surgery conference with Ex-gay researcher, Dr. Kenneth Zucker

The Organisation Intersex International wishes to express its disappointment that the City of Toronto is hosting a conference which will further stigmatise and promote non-consensual surgery and hormonal treatments for intersex children. This conference gives no real representation from intersex people themselves and it treats us as “disorders” of sex development, a very offensive way of speaking about us.
We further are shocked that the conference will include three interactive surgeries for participants.
We are not disordered and we want access to treatments that we CHOOSE and we want to be able to give fully informed consent. Help stop the harm. Let the organisers know how you feel about human rights for intersex people.

Founder of Organisation Internationale des Intersexués (OII)
Montréal, PQ

Here is some brief information about the conference:

III World Congress on Hypospadias and Disorders of Sex Development
The 3rd World Congress on Hypospadias and Disorders of Sex Development will take place in North America for the first time. The congress will be held both at the Hospital for Sick Children and at the Marriott Hotel Toronto Eaton Centre.
This multiprofessional conference (Urology, Gynecology, Endocrinology, Social Work, Medical Genetics, Genetic Counseling, Psychology and Psychiatry) will have a portion dedicated to each specialty and another to all specialists in the plenary session. Surgeons will also have a full day with 3 live interactive surgeries and video sessions.
The conference will focus on the growing interest in the congenital urogenital problems of children where many questions remain unanswered, and will also focus on the reconstructive surgery of hypospadias and intersex, and on the psycho-social aspects of care. The congress will review the pathology in inter-sex gonads with a focus on which conditions are more likely to have malignancy and to relate this data to the timing of gonadectomy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 - Sunday, November 15, 2009
Marriott Hotel Toronto
525 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2L2
For more information on the Congress or to register please log on to:
Or contact:

DSD Conference and Zucker

Zucker is moderating two of the talks at the upcoming conference on Hypospadias and Disorders of Sex Development in Toronto, and he is giving one himself.
Click here for list of events
Notice the way he titles his sessions, using 'disorders' over and over again, and mentioning "brain development" and "psychosexual differentiation and disorders" so as to insinuate that intersex kids are "mental cases" too.
I think Zucker is now attempting to initiate a new patient flow - i.e., to have the parents of intersex kids who have been surgically "corrected" to send them to him for "mental corrections" too.
Zucker's talks:
Moderator, Zucker: Sex Differences in Brain Development: Relevance to Injury and Disorders of Mental Health
Moderator, Zucker: The Cellular Mechanism Establishing Sex Differences in the Brain Relevant to Reproduction
Speaker, Zucker: Psychosexual Differentiation and Disorders Associated with Disorders of Sexual Development

Engendered Questions for T.O.’s Sick Kids

Written by Laura Glowacki
October 8, 2009

The organization Intersex International is not happy with Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital. In November the hospital is co-sponsoring—along with the Cleveland Clinic and IHSID—the III World Congress Hypospadias and Disorders of Sex Development.

Intersex International takes issue with the term “disorders of sex development” in the conference title. They say this term undermines the rights of children born intersex, or children with both male and female sex organs.

The advocacy group explains that the term encourages parents and society in general to consider intersex like a cleft pallet—a minor DNA mix-up that can be easily remedied with a snip here and cut there. Intersex International is not against surgery per say but thinks a child should have a say in what sex they are ultimately assigned.

Curtis Hinkle, a spokesman from Intersex International, said the IHSID (the International Society on Hypospadias and Intersex Disorders) recommends ‘correcting’ sex ambiguity in infants within the first six months of their lives. Hinkle said the University of Toronto’s is legitimizing IHSID’s recommendation and this should send a chill down the backs of Canadians. “Most Canadians aren’t aware of the retrograde practices coming out of Ontario,” he said.

Hinkle said the surgeries are sometimes irreversible and that doctors can often guess wrong when deciding whether an infant is male or female. “Gender identity is not science it is a pseudo-science,” he argued.

According to the Intersex Society of North America about one in every 100 babies are born with bodies that differ from the “standard male or female.” About one in every 1500 is born intersex.

I sent an email to a representative from the ISHID and will update if there is any word back.

More to think about at CitizenShift…

Interview with Dr. Gerald Callahan

CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks interviewed Dr. Gerald Callahan, author of Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes.

“When I began looking into it I discovered that the biochemistry and genetics that underlie the process of sex development in a fetus are very complex events, and in fact imagining they will turn out just one of two ways is really not very thoughtful. For example: I think the processes that generate sex in human beings are at least as complicated as those that generate fingerprints, and almost every one of us has a unique set of fingerprints. I began to realize that thinking of this like the on/off switch on a radio wasn’t the right way to think of it, that it’s more like bass and treble. You know the pure bass and pure treble are unachievable, but there’s a million different possibilities in between.” - Dr. Gerald Callahan

The show is available as a podcast.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

IAAF plans to develop gender definition


BIRMINGHAM, England — World track and field's governing body will start examining next week how to determine gender in an athletics context, an initiative spurred by the case of 800-meter world champion Caster Semenya.

The IAAF's medical commission, which begins meeting Friday, could take a year to deliver that definition and the judicial commission will also be asked to consider future regulations, general secretary Pierre Weiss said Saturday.

"We are obliged to react. It would have been better if we had been prepared to, but we were not prepared," Weiss told The Associated Press on Saturday. "We will get a reply in the next 12 months — I don't expect anything to come out before. ...

"We were in Copenhagen (at the International Olympic Committee meetings) and I asked my colleagues from other sports if they had a definition and nobody has one. But nobody (else) has had the problem so far."

Weiss expects the IOC medical commission to also consider the issue in November in Lausanne.

The most common cause of sexual ambiguity is congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands produce abnormally high levels of hormones.

By the time Semenya won the 800 meters at the Berlin world championships in August, questions about the 18-year-old South African's gender had been raised because of stunning improvements in her times and her muscular build and deep voice.

Before the final, the IAAF announced it had ordered gender tests.

The IAAF has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that Semenya has both male and female characteristics. It says it is reviewing test results and will issue a decision in November on whether she will be allowed to compete in women's events.

"They are being analyzed worldwide by experts," Weiss said. "We will promote the outcome of this case as soon as it is known."


Friday, October 9, 2009

Hermafrodita: Award winning film by Albert Xavier

Award winning Dominican feature, Winner of the Audience Choice Awards at the Chicago Latino Film festival 2009, stars Marilu Acosta, Garibaldi Reyes, Isabel Polanco, Olga Bucarelli y Rafa Rosario. Written, Directed and Produced by Albert Xavier.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Staceyann Chin's Poem About Equality & Our March

For more information about the National Equality March™, Oct. 10 - 11, 2009
Click here

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Express your opinion about Intersex Human Rights

The Organisation Intersex International wishes to express its disappointment that the City of Toronto is hosting a conference which will further stigmatise and promote non-consensual surgery and hormonal treatments for intersex children. This conference gives no real representation from intersex people themselves and it treats us as “disorders” of sex development, a very offensive way of speaking about us.

We further are shocked that the conference will include three interactive surgeries for participants.

We are not disordered and we want access to treatments that we CHOOSE and we want to be able to give fully informed consent. Help stop the harm. Let the organisers know how you feel about human rights for intersex people.

Curtis E. Hinkle
Founder of Organisation Internationale des Intersexués (OII)
Montréal, PQ

Here is some brief information about the conference:

III World Congress on Hypospadias and Disorders of Sex Development

The 3rd World Congress on Hypospadias and Disorders of Sex Development will take place in North America for the first time. The congress will be held both at the Hospital for Sick Children and at the Marriott Hotel Toronto Eaton Centre.

This multiprofessional conference (Urology, Gynecology, Endocrinology, Social Work, Medical Genetics, Genetic Counseling, Psychology and Psychiatry) will have a portion dedicated to each specialty and another to all specialists in the plenary session. Surgeons will also have a full day with 3 live interactive surgeries and video sessions.

The conference will focus on the growing interest in the congenital urogenital problems of children where many questions remain unanswered, and will also focus on the reconstructive surgery of hypospadias and intersex, and on the psycho-social aspects of care. The congress will review the pathology in inter-sex gonads with a focus on which conditions are more likely to have malignancy and to relate this data to the timing of gonadectomy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 - Sunday, November 15, 2009
Marriott Hotel Toronto
525 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2L2
For more information on the Congress or to register please log on to:
Or contact:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hijras commemorate the life of Jeannie Kay Hinkle

OII-India held a special ceremony 28 September 2009 in commemoration of Jeannie Kay Hinkle, beloved partner of Curtis E. Hinkle, founder of the Organisation Intersex International.The ceremony included prayers for and in the name of Jeannie Kay Hinkle as it was a Dussera festival day there.

Food was fed to 100 Hijras and poor after the prayers.

"Of all duties, benevolence is unequaled in this world, And even in celestial realms. He who understands his duty to society truly lives. All others shall be counted among the dead." - Tirukkural 22: 213-214

For more information about EKTA, the foundation sponsoring the ceremony: Click here

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Story of "R"

Thisstory is real. ‘R’ is a real person, and he still lives somewhere in Australia, still struggling with what the surgeons and the doctors and the psychologists have done to him.

If the medicos had all left ‘R’ alone as a newborn he would have had a very different life altogether, a much happier life no doubt.

Complete article: Click here

Friday, October 2, 2009


Source Jillo Kadida (Mail & Guardian)

KENYA – 21 September 2009: An intersexed Kenyan has applied to Kenya’s constitutional court to be released from Nairobi’s Kamiti Maximum Security Prison on the grounds that he belongs in neither a jail for men nor women.

Richard Mwanzia Muasya, who was convicted and jailed for robbery with violence, says he is subjected to continuous human- and constitutional- rights violations at the prison, which is for men only.

He claims to suffer inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of male convicts, prison warders and the public.

Muasya was born with both male and female sex organs, but regards himself as a man.

He has asked the court to release him because, he says, he is neither man nor woman and there is no special prison for people like him. He argues that if he is transferred to a female prison he will suffer the same fate.

The second leg of his case challenges Kenyan law for discriminating against him. He argues that the law recognises only the two sexes, male and female, and should be changed.

The fact that Kenyan law does not recognise intersexuality makes it difficult for him to acquire vital documents, including the national identity card, Muasya says in papers filed in court. This is because he does not know whether to complete application forms as a
man or a woman.

The birth and death registration law also does not provide for intersexuality, making it impossible for him to acquire a birth certificate.

Muasya was arrested with three other suspects in February 2005 after a robbery during which a woman was gang-raped.

However, the rape charge against him was dropped after medical reports confirmed that he is intersexed. The medical examination determined that none of his sex organs was fully developed and that it was unlikely that he could commit rape.

Muasya and other intersexed people in Kenya suffer ridicule and discrimination. In some instances they are kept out of the public eye because people are ashamed of them. The problem facing Kenya’s constitutional court is that he has been convicted of an offence, yet the country has no separate facility for holding intersexed offenders.

In addition, the Kenyan constitution does not recognise the unique rights of intersexed citizens. Under South African law, the intersexed are recognised and their rights are protected.