Monday, November 30, 2009

Intersex Baby drawing people from far and wide

First Published : 29 Nov 2009 04:17:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 29 Nov 2009 09:19:21 AM IST

BALASORE: A Rare baby born in Betanoti hospital, about 25 km from here, is drawing people from far and wide. This baby has both male and female sex organs – one above another. This baby was born to Ishwar Chandra Mahanta and Ahalya Mahanta of Nandasola village in Mayurbhanj district on November 22.

“When the child was born we first thought it was a male baby. But after minutes we found both male and female sex organs,” said Ahalya. According to her, both the sex organs of the baby are active as the baby is urinating in both the organs. This was second baby of the couple after they had a daughter earlier. Hospital sources said Ahalya had a normal delivery and the baby responded like normal babies.

“There was absolutely no complication during delivery. The baby was nearly 2.5 kg at birth. The baby is now taking milk like other newborns,” said Dilip Kumar Kar, paediatric specialist at the hospital. Doctors say it is a rare case and need proper medical examination. “It is called intersex (congenital anomaly of the reproductive and sexual system) baby,” said gynaecologist S N Sahu. “In general, intersex conditions neither cause the person to feel sick nor s/he feels pain. However, some intersex conditions are associated with serious health issues which need to be treated medically,” he said.

People visiting the baby are taken aback. “We had never seen such a rare baby, neither had we heard of that earlier,” said Jyotshnarani Behera, a local resident. Meanwhile, the doctors have advised the parents to go for a surgery of the baby.

“An ultra-sound conducted on the baby indicated that it has the uterus. But the vaginal hole is not open. The baby will be a female one after the extra genital part is operated on. We have advised the couple to consult doctors at SCB Medical, Cuttack,” said Dr Kar. The Mahanta family is worried because it has no money for the surgery.

“I run a make-shift small betel shop. I can’t arrange money for the operation. If anyone comes forward to help, it will be a great help,” said Ishwar.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Intersex Surgery - Beginning of the End?

Posted by OII-New Zealand
Could the battle to end cosmetic 'normalising' surgeries on the genitals of intersex babies be drawing to an end? The portents are good if a Times on Line report is correct. In an article titled Caster Semenya and the middle sex, Times journalist, Helen Rumbelow has revealed a ten year long 'experiment' conducted under a cloak of secrecy by Britain's National Health Service.
According to the Times the British 'experiment' began after Gynaecologists, Catherin Minto and Sarah Creighton published ground breaking research on the surgical impacts on women with CAH, in the Lancet. [HERE]
"As a gynaecologist at University College Hospital, she (Creighton) was the first to set out to compare those whose doctors had, at birth, attempted to “normalise” their genitals, and those who had no surgery. Nobody had followed up on patients in the past, as, cloaked in secrecy, doctors had concealed the truth from parents and child."
As a result, claims the Times, British parents have been discouraged from surgery purely for reasons of social acceptability, for the last decade, leaving it up to the child to make their own decision in their own good time.
If this means what it appears to mean only those surgical interventions necessary to protect the life or long-term physical health of the baby are performed. This reflects the position intersex advocacy groups such as OII, and individuals such as Professor Milton Diamond, have argued for years.
Creighton's research showed that CAH women who had avoided surgery were no worse off, and in many cases better off, than those who had been subjected to it. In an interview Creighton told The Times, "We (Britain) are leaders in this field, worldwide, in terms of disclosure to the parents and child, and challenging surgery."
If these revelations are correct then other countries around the world will be watching and waiting. The anticipated results may be published earlier than expected. The media feeding frenzy around Caster Semenya has driven the British experiment into the open, according to Professor Adam Balen, consultant gynaecologist at Leeds General Infirmary.
Intersex activists would argue that there was no reason to keep it secret in the first place. Not unreasonably they might point out that the real experiments were the cosmetic 'normalizing' surgeries and the bizarre pediatric gender assignments, with their attendant deceptions and dishonesty.
Now there may be room for cautious optimism. Intersex people are not unused to hidden medical agendas. But if the surgeons, the sexologists and psychotherapists can bring themselves to admit they got it wrong, this battle at least may be drawing to a close.

Times Article: HERE

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Caster Semenya found 'innocent of any wrong' to retain 800m gold medal

• Semenya to keep 800 metres gold medal and prize money
• IAAF accepts resignation of Athletics South Africa president, Thursday 19 November 2009 11.59 GMT

The International Association of Athletics Federations has agreed that the South African runner Caster Semenya will keep her 800 metres world title, the country's sports ministry said today.

The 18-year-old Semenya, who stormed to victory in August's world championships in Berlin, underwent gender verification tests this summer in South Africa and Germany and a panel of experts has been studying the results for the IAAF.

South Africa's government, Semenya's lawyers and the IAAF had reached total agreement that she will retain her gold medal, title and prize money because she has been found "innocent of any wrong", the ministry said in a statement.

Agreement was also reached with the IAAF that scientific gender tests conducted on Semenya will be treated as confidential and there will be no public announcement of the results.

The IAAF said it could not confirm the details in the statement but said it had accepted the resignation of the Athletics South Africa president, Leonard Chuene, from the IAAF Council and had opened a formal investigation into the handling of the Semenya affair by Chuene and the ASA.

Chuene and his board have been suspended by South Africa's Olympic governing body pending an investigation after Chuene admitted he lied when he denied Semenya had undergone gender tests before the world championships.

The sports ministry said Semenya would decide her future on her own. "The implications of the scientific findings on Caster's health and life going forward will be analysed by Caster and she will make her own decision on her future. Whatever she decides, ours is to respect her decision."

They had also requested that the IAAF apologise for the way the Semenya saga had been handled. "Their response is: 'It is deeply regrettable that information of a confidential nature entered the public domain.' The IAAF is adamant that the public discourse did not originate with them."

Australia's Daily Telegraph, citing an unnamed source, reported in September that Semenya was a hermaphrodite with both male and female sexual characteristics. The IAAF has not confirmed the report.

Semenya and family members say the runner is female and that publicity surrounding the case has caused hardships. South Africans have reacted angrily to the case and the country's ruling African National Congress has denounced the IAAF and the ASA for their handling of the matter.


Caster Semenya and the middle sex

As athletic leaders meet to decide the sex of the South African runner, our writer reveals that the NHS has pioneered a new approach to the hundreds of UK babies born each year of unclear sex

Excerpt. Sophia from OII-UK

When Sophia, 45, from Brighton, was born with a genetic condition (called 5-ARD) that made her sex initially unclear, her parents were told nothing. This secrecy by the medical teams was absolutely standard. “They didn’t know what I was, but all they said to my parents was, ‘there’s a problem, we’re doing some kind of repair’.”

She was sent home to an almost impossible life. Her parents were told she was a boy, but they “picked up something strange was going on”. Meanwhile the botched “repair” made life as a boy utterly miserable.

In adulthood Sophia now lives (“exists” is the word she uses) as a woman, campaigning passionately against surgery to “normalise” babies. Wouldn’t it be kinder, I ask, to make a child less different in the eyes of their peers, to spare the taunts? “That argument is countered by the messiness the surgery itself causes,” she says.

Complete article: Click here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Ani Lamont
Wednesday, 18 November 2009

New South Wales has become the second state in Australia to allow intersex people to change the sex on their birth certificates.

Organisation International for Intersex (OII Australia) president Gina Wilson said the changes will ease the burden around all identity issues, and could place pressure on other states to follow suit.

Previously in NSW the sex registered on a birth certificate could only be changed if it was deemed there had been a gross clerical error that was spotted within weeks of a child’s birth.

Following a landmark case in which a person who had been living as a man for 40 years successfully applied to have the sex on his passport changed from female, NSW Births Deaths and Marriages has adopted a new policy towards intersex customers.

Now people need only provide proof that they are intersex and are living in the gender they wish to change to for their official documents to be changed.

“They say that they are not the people who assign genders or sexes, they are the keeper of a record,” Wilson said.

“It makes everything else possible, passports, everything. It has even meant in [the first test case] that they’ve changed the details on the children’s birth certificates. It just fixes that whole hideous process of identity.

“It’s a major development and we would like to work our way through the registries state by state”

OII hopes to see the issue raised at the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General to try and ensure nationwide consistency.

info: Visit

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Interview with Gina Wilson, Founder of OII Australia

18 November 2009

Earlier this year, South African track athlete Caster Semenya was vilified in the international media for allegedly having both male and female biological characteristics. People with such characteristics are known as “intersex”. Green Left Weekly’s Farida Iqbal spoke to Gina Wilson from the Organisation Intersex International (OII) about Semenya and intersex politics.

To read the interview: Click here

Also visit OII Australia

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Delhi's 'eunuchs' forge lives in conservative nation

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
November 15, 2009 7:46 a.m. EST

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Dotting a crammed neighborhood in the Indian capital are homes that can be easily located without addresses.

Say "hijras," and residents and shop owners at New Delhi's Beri Wala Bagh will give quick directions to houses where India's so-called third gender -- intersex people and eunuchs -- live together in well-kept homes intermingled with businesses and temples.

Intersexual refers to a variety of conditions where there is a discrepancy between a person's external and internal genitals.

On Friday, the groups won a longtime campaign to be listed as "others" instead of male or female, on voting forms. This was seen by many as a way to acknowledge a separate, unique identity.

Despite some strides, the hijras -- loosely called eunuchs in Indian English -- continue to face widespread bias among India's largely conservative population. At one time, eunuchs were valued as trusted loyalists of India's Mughal emperors, in power until the late 19th century.

Hijra homes are their "monasteries" -- each with a revered supreme head, or guruji.

"Our guruji is not in town. Sorry, it's the guruji who can speak, not us," said one resident of the New Delhi neighborhood.

Dressed as a woman, Pavitra, a eunuch from a hijra home designed as a shrine, was willing to help. In her hoarse male voice, she summed up what the community is mostly associated with in modern India.

"We earn our living by blessing and dancing at celebrations," said Pavitra, who uses one name.

Tips from their own network guide them to families celebrating male events: wedding of a son or birth of baby boy.

Most families welcome hijra blessings but dread what they fear could be a curse.

"This is where lies a cultural sanction to their (hijras') existence in India," said Anjali Gopalan, head of the nonprofit Naz Foundation, which campaigns for the rights of sexual minorities in the country.

So while some hijra residents may have sources of economic sustenance, their community remains an object of derision, Gopalan said.

Many third-gender people end up begging in the streets and at traffic intersections. Some turn to prostitution.

In India, most hijras are believed to be eunuchs, or castrated males, and those without economic means adopt a hijra clan.

"They feel like being trapped in a body not their own," Gopalan said, adding that despite many beliefs to the contrary, there was no evidence of forced castration.

Gopalan hailed as a "fabulous step in right direction" India's recent voting rights change, following a long campaign by eunuchs and intersexuals to be listed as "others" instead of male or female on electoral rolls and voter forms.

The groups wanted the option.

However, Gopalan said they remained barred from the rights to inheritance, marriage and the adoption of children.

"It's a whole new journey ahead," Gopalan said.

Asked about her new right as a voter, a smiling Pavita responded, "What will change?"

Before I spoke with her, she didn't know about the option to ask her election officer to replace what she told me was an "M" for male in the gender box of her voter card with an "O." It wasn't clear she wanted to.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Human Rights Issues for Intersex People In Aotearoa-NZ

By Yann Bradburn.

In July of this year, Mani Bruce Mitchell and I met for an initial talk with the NZ Human Rights Commission on Intersex issues. We were the only intersex people to attend and we met with both the commission plus many professionals with an interest in intersex.

This talk had its origins a few years earlier, when we were asked to discuss whether intersex should be included in a report which had been commissioned on Trans issues. The decision then, was to keep them seperate. Both Mani and I stated we wished intersex to be dealt with later, as we felt the issues could be confused, and that intersex issues are often very different from those of transpeople.

However many intersex people gave submissions through the trans enquiry and this has led the commission to start the first stages on an Intersex enquiry earlier, overlapping into their continued work in addressing transpeoples issues within our country. This is good for us. It also ties into what is happeneing in Australia and NZ is very interested in following what happens there and in Asia. They may be influenced by this; this is yet to be seen.

NZ has a history of setting guidelines for the rest of the world; so we will see.

To read the full report. Visit OII-New Zealand. Click here

Friday, November 13, 2009

OII Australia welcomes changes to New South Wales births registrations for intersex.

Open letter to:

Honourable Lisa Karam and Sharon Swinbourne

My name is Curtis E. Hinkle, the founder and president of the Organisation Intersex International. I have been recently informed of the changes you were instrumental in making in New South Wales concerning birth certificates of intersex citizens there. What you have helped bring about is one of the greatest steps possible for the advancement of human rights for intersex children and adults. I hope that your example will have repercussions elsewhere.

I thank you and send you the respect and gratitude from all the board members of OIl around the world.

With highest regards, Curtis E. Hinkle

For more details, visit OII-Australia: Click here

Living A Lie: Local Intersex Woman Shares Her Story

When a baby is born the first thing we ask: Is it a boy or a girl? But hundreds of babies are born each year with no obvious gender. For those kids immediate surgery to assign a sex was once the norm. Now some doctors are encouraging parents to wait and let the child decide.
Posted: 9:46 PM Nov 12, 2009
Reporter: McKenzie Martin
Email Address:

Complete article: Click here

Thursday, November 12, 2009

India's third gender gets own identity in voter rolls

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
November 12, 2009 -- Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT)

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Indian election authorities Thursday granted what they called an independent identity to intersex and transsexuals in the country's voter lists.

Before, members of these groups -- loosely called eunuchs in Indian English -- were referred to as male or female in the voter rolls.

But now, they will have the choice to tick "O" -- for others -- when indicating their gender in voter forms, the Indian election commission said in a statement.

"Enumerators and booth-level officers (BLOs) shall be instructed to indicate the sex of eunuchs/transsexuals etc as 'O' if they so desire, while undertaking any house-to-house enumeration/verification of any application," a statement from election authorities said.

India, home to more than 1 billion people, has 714 million registered voters.

Intersexual people are seen as a marginalized community in India. Many end up begging on the streets, becoming prostitutes or earning their livelihood by dancing at celebrations.

In July, an Indian court delivered a landmark ruling legalizing gay sex between consenting partners in the country.

The July verdict meant the law -- Indian penal code section 377, which had previously criminalized consensual homosexual acts between adults -- was partly struck down but remains in place as far as forced homosexual acts are concerned.

It was not clear whether the ruling -- which was later challenged by an astrologer in India's highest court -- would eventually lead to legalization of gay marriages in the country.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Julius T-shirt joke falls flat

Image meant to 'poke fun' at Malema 'racist, sexist'

Nov 10, 2009 10:34 PM | By LAUREN COHEN and NIVASHNI NAIR

Satirical T-shirt company Laugh it Off posted an electronically doctored image of Sara Baartman's body featuring male genitalia and Julius Malema's head - in a bizarre attempt to ridicule the ANC Youth League president.

The image, titled "Hermafrotiet", was posted on the Laugh It Off website because the company is "considering some [Julius] Malema T-shirts and is testing the market".

But the government yesterday described the posting as "tantamount to laughing about the Holocaust".

Laugh It Off spokesman Ruan Kemp said the image, which he designed in "a few minutes", was "meant to poke fun at Malema" and comments he made regarding the Caster Semenya debacle, in which South Africa's women's 800m world champion was forced to undergo gender testing.

Malema said that "hermaphrodites do not exist" in his language, Pedi, and therefore Semenya was not a hermaphrodite as claimed in international media.

Baartman was shipped to England in the 1800s, given the name Hottentot Venus and paraded as a sexual freak before the public.

After her death, parts of her preserved body were exhibited in a museum in France.

Her body was returned to South Africa in 2002.

But Kemp says he meant to ridicule Malema - not Semenya or Baartman.

"The media handled it [the Semenya issue] as though she was a freak. I used the image of Baartman and put Malema's head on to question who is the actual freak. I am drawing parallels between what she went through and what Caster went through," Kemp said.

"They are both strong women with a lesson to teach us," he said.

Kemp said people were "offended by different things".

But Oageng Tsatsi, a visitor to the website, was not impressed.

"I am shocked - is this allowed? Is it even funny?" she commented on the website blog.

Lisa Vetten, a researcher for the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, said she did not "get the joke".

"The image displays the long and ugly history of eroticising and presenting black women's bodies in a freakish way and that is racism and sexism."

Last night, after The Times contacted Laugh It Off, the company tried to contextualise its posting by adding to it Malema's comments about hermaphrodites.

Sibani Mngadi, spokesman for the ministry of women and children, said: "Whoever thought this was a joke, has no regard for the traumatic history of exploitation of African women.

"The graphic undermines the efforts that have been made to restore the dignity of Sara Baartman. The insinuated link to the recent abuse of Caster Semenya makes it even more disgusting."

Malema did not comment at the time of going to print.


More information: Click here

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Intersex Solidarity Day - November 8

Sunday of solidarity for intersex people
By Daily News Staff
8th November 2009 - 11:31 am

Today, Sunday 8 November, has been dubbed international 'Intersex Solidarity Day', to raise awareness of the existence of intersex people and the issues they face.

South African Olympic runner Caster Semenya, 18, made headlines recently when the results of a gender test outed her as being intersex. The Intersex Awareness New Zealand network believes more than one in 2,000 people in the general population also have genetic and physical variations placing them in between male and female.

"Imagine one end of the bench represents being 100% male, the other 100% female and you can't sit either end, you may be intersex," says Intersex Awareness NZ. "If so you are not alone, 2000 other New Zealanders are sharing the middle with you."

Wellington-based psychotherapist Mani Mitchell, who is herself intersex, told her story in the latest issue of Marie Claire magazine - describing how her mother was told Mani was a 'hermaphrodite' when she was born, and shoes to bring her up as a girl.

"I don't see myself as exclusively female or male, but I also know generally how uncomfortable the world is with difference," she explained.


For information on Intersex Solidarity Day: Click here