Tuesday, August 24, 2010

For more news on Intersex, Visit OII-Austrailia

Please visit OII-Australia for more up-to-date news on intersex.

Click here

Monday, August 9, 2010

Guidelines recommend shared decision-making between parents, physicians in sex development treatments

Karkazis K. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2010;23:789-806.

A shared decision-making process would encourage both parents and physicians to take an active role in determining the most beneficial treatment for patients with disorders of sex development who are considering surgical intervention, researchers suggested.

Complete article: Click here

Friday, July 23, 2010

MichFest Workshop Challenges Womyn-Born-Womyn Policy and Medical Practices: “Disordered or Just Different?”

I will present a workshop at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MichFest) on Friday, August 6th, from 12:30 to 2:30 pm in the Media Tent. This presentation is the same talk entitled “Disordered or Just Different? Myth, Science and Sexuality” that has been well-received at two other venues recently (see previous posts). The title is shortened to “Myth, Science, and Sexuality” to meet the publishing specifications for the 2010 MichFest booklet.

Complete article: Click here

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Double sex inmate ‘must pay for sins’

Posted Thursday, July 15 2010 at 22:05

An intersex robbery convict fighting for legal recognition was on Thursday told to “pay for your sins as you were never denied schooling because of your gender.”

A group calling itself Kenya Christian Lawyers Fellowship asked a three-judge bench of the constitutional court to disregard pleas by Richard Muasya to be released from Kamiti because of his unique sex condition.

Dropped out

The group drew the court’s attention to affidavits by Muasya’s relatives that he went to school but dropped out, saying he could not see the board, contrary to claims that he was denied education because of his sex.

The affidavits were sworn by Muasya’s mother and his maternal grandmother, Ms Damaris Siyongo.

According to the affidavits, despite concerted efforts to have Muasya go back to school he refused, opting to fetch water.

Presenting his case in court on Tuesday Muasya, who has both male and female organs, said he was denied an education because of his gender.

He sought to introduce a third gender in the law books when his lawyer, Mr John Chigiti, said his client did not have a birth certificate because his sexuality was not legally recognised. The court will make a ruling on September 29.

Source: Click here

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Excerpt from article:

This year New and Nimkam wrote that they believed that prenatal dexamethasone therapy can reduce “behavioral masculinisation” in CAH girls including same-sex attraction and tom-boy type behaviours.

Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia spokesperson Gina Wilson told Sydney Star Observer they strongly opposed any forced or unconsented normalisation of Intersex children.

“We hold that both surgery on intersex newborns and non-consenting children, forced gendering and the administration of drugs to reinforce gender and gender behaviour whether pre or post natal is essentially homophobic,” Wilson said.

OII Australia recommends any intervention should be left until an intersex child is old enough to express their own wishes regarding treatment.

Wilson said that as far as OII Australia was aware, all hospitals in Australia recommended the early sex assignment of children with intersex conditions to parents and it was possible that dexamethasone was being prescribed to women carrying CAH girls in Australia.

Wilson welcomed Dreger speaking out on the issue but noted that she and some colleagues had pushed for intersex conditions to be renamed “disorders of sex development” for clinical purposes – a term OII Australia feels to be stigmatising.

Complete article: Click here

Thursday, July 8, 2010

DiManno: Semenya’s long ordeal over as IAAF clears South African to compete

By Rosie DiMannoColumnist


Her voice is deep, in the lowest alto range for a female. Her breasts are non-existent, hips boyishly slim.

Throughout her life, when she looked in the mirror, Caster Semenya saw a girl. She apparently never doubted her gender. Certainly her parents believed they’d raised a daughter — one who, as it turned out, could run like the wind.

The International Association of Athletics Federations was not so sure.

For 11 months the IAAF had left Semenya hanging, ever since the South African athlete crushed the field in the 800-metre final at the world championships in Berlin. Some competitors, astonished by the muscular Semenya’s overwhelming dominance in that race — a two-second margin of victory — and her dramatically improving times, complained that she had to be a he — just look at her.

So the IAAF looked. Medical experts looked. Lawyers looked.

The teenager’s mortification can only be imagined.

On Tuesday, the global track and field authorities who had ordered gender verification testing finally released their verdict, clearing Semenya to resume her career as a girl runner — perhaps as soon as the world junior championships in Moncton, N.B., on July 19.

Yet the statement issued by the IAAF was oddly imprecise, which might very well provoke challenges — at the very least fail to smother disgruntlement — from Semenya’s running opponents.

“The process initiated in 2009 in the case of Caster Semenya has now been completed,” the government body stated tersely. “The IAAF accepts the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that she can compete with immediate effect.”

Her gold medal and race times have been formally recognized and Semenya will receive an undisclosed financial “settlement” for her ordeal.

But nothing was stated flatly about Semenya — rumoured to be a hermaphrodite, meaning she has both male and female sexual organs (though the second set of genitalia could be internal) — being a female, full stop. Medical details will not be released.

“Why should they be out there?” Semenya’s lawyer, Greg Nott, told South African television last night. “Would you like your sex records to be made public?”

For the past three weeks, Semenya has been participating in a training camp in Pretoria, along with the rest of this country’s track team. She had declined interviews but her coach, Michael Seme, described his star as “unfit” physically and merely going through the motions as she waited — and waited — for an outcome to her case, a decision repeatedly deferred by the IAAF. “She can’t do any speed work or prepare to race until we know when she can compete,” Seme told reporters last week.

The waiting, the pending, is now over. Why the process took so long has not been explained. A month ago, South African Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile scrapped a press conference at which it was assumed the medical results would be revealed. That was just one more false start for Semenya, and she’s endured many since last August’s compromised triumph.

The 19-year-old released a statement Tuesday afternoon, expressing her delight at being able to race again. “I am thrilled to enter the global athletic arena once again and look forward to competing with all the disputes behind me.”

But only hours earlier, in a brief phone interview with Associated Press, Semenya had said: “I don’t feel anything.”

What she has clearly felt, all these long months, is embarrassment, as the most intimate details of her being were debated around the world, after news was leaked that the IAAF was scrutinizing her gender. Different sports federations follow different rules about determining sex. The International Olympic Committee no longer requires mandatory gender testing, though it continues to struggle in drafting guidelines to help federations handle “ambiguous” athletes who may have “disorders of sex development,” as some doctors describe the condition.

It has been a humiliating experience for the teen, suddenly famous — and notorious — for what may or may not be between her legs.

What’s not clear, and likely will never be publicized, is whether Semenya underwent any medical procedure or testosterone-suppressing treatment during her long layoff.

Nott insisted Semenya has come through her public trial with honour intact. “Caster’s dignity has been repaired by her own grace and her own strength.”

He conceded not all of Semenya’s competitors will accept this decision. A few, during the past year, have threatened to boycott races if Semenya was allowed to compete as a female.

“It’s up to them if they want to challenge it,” said Nott. “There may be athletes who do not accept her, but there has also been an outpouring of love and support.”

He further claimed that sponsors have come forward with potential endorsement deals for the runner.

“We’re going to see our golden girl in her track shoes and ready to compete.”

Source: Click here

Preventing homosexuality in utero: Could we? Would we? Should we?

July 2, 2010 | 7:00 am

A workhorse drug that's been around for decades has, in recent weeks, stirred up a biomedical debate that will likely resonate with any parent who's ever asked him or herself: If I could prevent my child from being gay, would I?

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that has been widely used in the treatment of arthritis, of intestinal, kidney and thyroid disease, in certain kinds of cancers. It's also been prescribed to — and used by — pregnant women carrying female babies who are at genetic risk of a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH.

Children born with the genetic anomaly will need a lifetime of medication to ensure their normal growth, sexual development and reproductive function. But for girls, one manifestation of CAH is evident at birth: her external genitalia will look more masculine than feminine. The resulting person used to be called a hermaphrodite. The preferred term now is intersex, a condition of gender ambiguity that can be caused by a number of different conditions.

Dexamethasone, when administered in utero, appears to correct the development of a female fetus' genitalia. As a result, it relieves parents and child of a difficult decision — to have later corrective surgery, with all of its risks.

That a parent should take it upon him or herself to "correct" a child's ambiguous gender identity is debatable enough. (The Intersex Society of North America maintains that "parents' distress must not be treated by surgery on the child.") What ignites serious controversy is a side effect of prenatal dexamethasone — its ability to feminize, not just the external genitalia of a girl with CAH, but her internal outlook and her behavior. That is significant because among CAH's more subtle effects, according to Mount Sinai Medical Center endocrinologist Dr. Maria I. New, is that women who have it tend to be more masculine in their behavior and interests, including sexual attraction to women. New has been a leading researcher on CAH and, in an earlier practice, is reported to have prescribed dexamethasone. She and a research collaborator, Columbia University psychologist Heino F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg, has investigated at length the "psychosocial" as well as medical issues faced by those with CAH.

In short, dexamethasone seems to hold the promise not only of sparing a child a difficult and risky surgery, it may also redirect a sexual trajectory that will lead to bisexuality or lesbianism.

That, say bioethicists, is going too far. In a recent posting on the Bioethics Forum of the Hastings Center, a nonpartisan bioethics institute based in Garrison, N.Y., Alice Dreger, Ellen K. Feder and Anne Tamar-Mattis warn that treatment of the external manifestations of CAH are debaeable enough in and of themselves: But, in this case, that treatment will make it possible for some parents to take actions motivated -- at least in part -- by a desire to prevent their child from becoming a homosexual.

Dreger, Feder and Tamar-Mattis suggest that in insisting that homosexuality is not a choice but a biologically determined fact of identity, gay and lesbian rights activists may have set themselves up for medical researchers to see sexual orientation as a condition that can be "fixed." They "should be wary of claims that the innateness of homosexuality will lead to liberation," they wrote. Instead, it might "very well lead to new means of pathologization and prevention," write the bioethicists.

Also unclear is whether the use of dexamethasone by pregnant women is safe — or for that matter, effective. Neither has been demonstrated by clinical trials. The prescribing of a drug in treatment of a condition other than that for which the Food and Drug Administration has approved it — called off-label — is very common and legal. But the debatable use of dexamethasone in pregnant women has caused sufficient concern among endocrinologists that the Endocrine Society next month is expected to issue a consensus document warning physicians who prescribe prenatal dexamethasone for CAH that the treatment should be considered experimental. That imposes far greater ethical strictures on physicians: They must seek the approval of an ethics and safety review board and satisfy other conditions designed to protect a patient's rights.

Want to know more about what researchers have learned about the bases of homosexuality, and the ethical debates that result? Here's an article on the subject from the LA Times Health section.

--Melissa Healy

Source: Click here

Junk Science Doc Tries to Cure Lesbianism with Experimental Drug!

by SheWired Editors | Article Date: 07/01/2010 9:13 PM

File this under Brave New World meets Focus on the Family homophobic prenatal modification scary shit!

Dr. Maria New (let’s call her Dr. Frankenhomophobe), has been administering –without informed consent -- the experimental drug dexamethsone (dex), to pregnant women who might be carrying children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a condition that has been associated with girls with intersexuality and also tomboyish-ness and lesbianism, according to the
Huffington Post.

Despite reports that the drug is not approved for pregnant women, doesn’t cure CAH – although it has been known to reduce some masculine traits associated with CAH – and that it causes birth defects in animal, Dr. Maria New Frankenhomophobe is hawking it as a miracle cure for lesbianism in the womb and for ensuring that girls grow up to submit to sex with men and be fruitful and multiply.

Complete article: Click here

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A whole new way of being

Gender selection a tough topic, author says; fiction title centres on intersex birth
The Telegram

"What happens if it's less than that?"

"When a phallus is less than one point five centimetres, give or take seven hundredths of a centimetre -"

"Seven hundredths?"

"Yes. When it's less than that, we remove the presentation of male aspects and later, during adolescence, we sculpt the female aspects."

"What if it's right in the middle? Right straight, smack dab down the precise centre? One point five centimetres with no seven hundredths."

"Then we make an educated guess. We do endocrinological tests but really, in a newborn, as far as endocrinology goes, we're making a best estimate. Penis size at birth is the primary criterion for assessing a gender."

"Measure her, then."

- A mother and doctor speak about an intersex child, in an excerpt from the novel "Annabel" by Kathleen Winter.

Complete article: Click here

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We need to talk about IGM…

June 18, 2010

A couple of days ago, Alice Dreger and Ellen K. Feder jointly posted a brief article (Bad Vibrations) on the Bioethics Forum of the Hastings Center’s website.

The piece picked up on an earlier article, Nerve Sparing Ventral Clitoroplasty: Analysis of Clitoral Sensitivity and ViabilityPDF here – published in 2007 by Jennifer Yang (a pediatric urologist), Diane Felsen (a pharmacologist) and Dix P. Poppas, M.D in The Journal of Urology.

Dreger and Feder’s piece focuses attention on Dr Poppas, a pediatric urologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University whose “special interest in genital reconstruction [and] surgical aspects of disorders of sexual development” has apparently led him to carry out a program of research on 51 girls aged between 4 months and 24 years old (mean age ± SD 4.6 ± 6.8 years) in which he performed nerve sparing ventral clitoroplasty, which included “followup testing of clitoral viability and sensation after clitoroplasty“.

Read the complete article: Click here

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cornell doctor sliced young girls’ genitals

Cornell doctor sliced young girls’ genitals; Tested girls as young as six with vibrator, columnist says

By David Edwards

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

A Cornell doctor is performing partial clitoris removal on young girls and then using a vibrator to test their sensation in follow-up tests, a shocking column by syndicated columnist Dan Savage asserted Wednesday.

Dr. Dix P. Poppas has been performing the procedure on girls older than five for several years, according to 2007 paper (PDF) documenting the research. The doctor and patients' parents allegedly believe that the girls' clitorises are too large and create too much sensation.

Complete article: Click here

See also:

After Cutting Little Girls' Clitorises, Ivy League Doctor Tests Handiwork With a Vibrator

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gina Wilson – Discovering One’s Intersex Self.

Activist’s anger as Malawian’s gender is misreported

A trans activist has attacked the media for referring to a Malawian put on trial for homosexuality as a man rather than a trans woman.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Church says Alterina’s marriage illegal

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 06/07/2010 9:46 AM | Jakarta

The Indonesian Bishops' Council (KWI) has declared the controversial marriage of transgender Alterina Hofan illegal, kompas.com reported on Monday.

KWI secretary Benny Susetyo said the Catholic Church could not accept the marriage and suggested that Alterina should seek medication rather than changing her sex status.

“The Catholic Church bans marriage between people of the same sex,” Benny said, adding that the KWI deemed Alterina had defied her nature.

Alterina has the rare Klinefelter’s syndrome which gives him an extra X chromosome, making him look more effeminate. After years of operations, he documented himself as a man and even married Jane Hadipoespito.

Benny said the health problem could not justify the change in sex status. “Her DNA and genetics prove she is female, therefore she can be medically cured,” the priest said.

He suggested that the state should regulate the issue of same-sex marriage as it could create more social problems in the future.

Jane’s parents denounced the marriage, filing a lawsuit against Alterina for fraud because he had previously declared he was a woman on his identity card. Alterina is facing a seven-year imprisonment for the alleged fraud.

Boy Listed As Girl Is Really a Boy, Doctors, Census Takers Say

Candra Malik

Boy Listed As Girl Is Really a Boy, Doctors, Census Takers Say

Semarang, Central Java. A 15-year-old who has struggled to be recognized as a boy for years can officially do so now, having undergone intensive examinations at Dr. Karyadi Hospital in Semarang.

The hospital concluded on Thursday that Maemunah, who is listed as a girl in his birth certificate, has the requisite sexual organs to prove he is indeed a boy, and there no longer needs to be any confusion over the matter.

Maemunah’s case became public recently after census takers were confused as to how to list gender of the young resident of Banyumas, Central Java. Maemunah insisted when questioned by census takers that he was a boy, even though he is listed as a girl on the birth certificate.

Dr. Ardy Santosa, a urologist at Karyadi Hospital, confirmed that although official hospital examination results had yet to be released, he could safely conclude that Maemunah, alias Mei Pur nomo, is indeed male.

“We still have to wait for the results of chromosome testing, but I can safely conclude that Mei is male. He has a penis,” Dr. Ardy told the Jakarta Globe.

Maemunah underwent tests at Karyadi Hospital to find out whether he has Klinefelter’s syndrome, which causes male genitalia to develop late.

Klinefelter’s syndrome, according to Indra G Mansur, a University of Indonesia andrologist, is a chromosomal disorder affecting males that causes them to look like females.

Maemunah underwent a series of medical examinations, including ultrasonography and chromosome testing.

“He definitely has a penis and we are also checking his testicular function. We will check the levels of the hormone testosterone to explore whether Mei’s sperm can fertilize ova or not,” Ardy said.

He said preliminary examinations showed that Maemunah suffered from partial androgen insensitivity syndrome. PAIS is a rare inherited condition in which babies biologically intended to be boys fail to show full normal male development because their bodies are unable to respond normally to male hormones, otherwise known as androgens — these are the chemical signals secreted into the blood by the testes, which are responsible for all the physical and psychological features of maleness.

Ardy said Maemunah’s penis was deformed and he needed surgery, which would be difficult because of his age.

“I wish the case had been identified at an earlier stage so the child could be operated on at the age of 1 or 2,” Ardy said.

“If the surgery succeeds and Mei receives full male status, the hospital is willing to provide letters of recommendation so that Mei can get his gender status changed legally in court.”

Dr. Paulus A Gozalli of Margono Soekardjo Hospital in Banyumas said Maemunah could not be categorized as a hermaphrodite.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Groups drawn to intersex convict’s case

Lawyer John Chigiti at a Nairobi court when he filed an application seeking orders to have medical reports about Richard Muasya tabled in court. PHOTO/ CORRESPONDENT

Posted Tuesday, May 25 2010 at 21:00


  • Lobbyists for and anti-gays join suit aimed at ‘third gender’

Activists for and against gay unions have joined a case filed by an intersex convict seeking the legalisation of a third gender in Kenya.

The Kenya Christian Lawyers Fellowship is opposing the plea while the Gays and Lesbians Trust is for the case.

In the case, Richard Muasya, who was born with both male and female genital organs, but goes about as a man, has sued the government, saying that the laws of the land discriminate against him and others like him.

The robbery convict says the law recognises only two sexes — male and female — which he believes is unfair and discriminatory.

Order release

Muasya also wants the court to order his release from Kamiti maximum prison, a male prison, citing sexual harassment and inhuman treatment. He asked the court to establish a separate jail facility for intersex inmates.

But the Christian lawyers asked the court not to heed Muasya’s prayers.

The group argues that should the court permit the introduction of an indeterminate ‘third gender’, it is likely to open floodgates for the teaching of doctrines of homosexuality and lesbianism.

The group of lawyers doubted the agenda of the gay trust being enjoined as a friend of the case, arguing that it had not proved its legal status and had also failed to demonstrate the interest it is seeking.

As a result of this, the lawyers say, the gay trust may be seeking the recognition of gay rights as an offshoot of the court’s finding in the case.

They also argued that Muasya never presented before court any medical report to show that he either had a uterus or ovaries.

On its part, the gay trust did not suggest that they want to seek gay rights. In its suit papers, the trust merely supported Muasya’s arguments and urged the court to uphold his rights.

But the Attorney-General told Muasya to lobby Parliament to have the law changed.

A three-judge bench will hear his case in July.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Man, 33, seeks puberty

By Kat English
Producer, BBC One's One life

Lawrence Koomson is a doctor living and working in London. On the face of it, he seems no different from any other young man but Lawrence has a secret.

At 33, he has never been through puberty. He's never had a spot. He's never had an erection. And he's trapped in the body of a 12-year-old boy.

But this all changed in April 2005, when he began treatment to bring on puberty.

"I feel an outsider, different to everyone else," he said before the treatment. "People take going through puberty for granted; it's just something that happens. For me it has just never happened."

Lawrence has Kallmann's syndrome, a rare condition affecting predominantly men, but also women. A small area in the brain called the hypothalamus cannot work properly causing a hormonal imbalance.

For men like Lawrence, this means his body doesn't produce testosterone, which prevents puberty being triggered. Another characteristic of Kallmann's syndrome is an absent sense of smell.

Having Kallmann's syndrome can lead to extreme difficulties, especially during adolescence, when all one's peers are going through puberty. And the consequences of delayed puberty and not becoming sexually mature naturally has a far-reaching impact on sufferers' lives.

Lawrence's doctor and the UK specialist in the field is endocrinologist Professor Pierre Bouloux.

"We've tested Lawrence's blood testosterone levels and the results make for quite interesting reading," he said, before the treatment. "The reference range for men Lawrence's age would be a testosterone level between 9.9 and 27.8.

"Lawrence's level is less than 0.5. In essence he's got the testosterone levels of a one-year-old so we've got quite a lot of catching up to do.

"In terms of penile length we're talking about a resting length of about four centimetres, and for a chap of Lawrence's size that shows that development hasn't occurred as yet."

With treatment, it's hoped Lawrence will grow body hair, his voice will break, he'll develop body muscle and sexual organs and for the first time will experience sexual desire.

36-hour erection

The treatment consists of six implants in the buttock, which release 200 milligrams of testosterone over six months. He will be dependent on implants for the rest of his life.

Professor Bouloux has treated more than 300 patients over the last 15-20 years.

"In extreme situations, I've seen people not being able to handle the testosterone treatment, developing erections lasting hours and hours, and in one case up to 36 hours.

"There's no script for this, we got to see what happens and navigate a safe course to give Lawrence a level which will put him in a normal range."

Lawrence grew up in Ghana and has only recently been living and working in the UK with the result that he's only now having treatment.

"The thought of treatment makes me feel a bit frightened or scared because I don't know what's going to happen. I might have the urge to have sex when I don't want to have sex!

"I feel excited - it's something I've never been through before. I'll grow a beard and I've always wanted to see how I'll be with a beard and you know I'll get more muscle, so I think the ladies are going to love the new me!"

Lawrence received his long awaited implants in April 2005. The next day, he was glued to the mirror watching and waiting for changes. What will happen first? A spot? An erection? Or signs of a beard?

By day three, he experienced a first.

"It happened today. I was so scared I wasn't sure if it was going to or not going to. I had an erection!

"It really woke me up! It lasted 10-15 minutes. I was happy! I wanted to call the doctor but it was too early in the morning."

For the next six months, Lawrence went through puberty.

As the massive implant of testosterone began to take hold of his body, Lawrence started to feel sexual attraction to women for the first time.

He also experienced all the usual teenage distractions - surfing internet chatrooms looking for female company, even mobile phone porn. It was all new territory for him.

"I'm resisting that push into the teenage world," he said. "I have to behave more responsibly, much more responsibly. Not only am I not a teenager. Also, there's the very fact that I'm a medical doctor and I have to behave more responsibly than that."


Moral conflicts aside, as Lawrence made tentative steps into the scary world of dating, the disappointments started to stack up. Most men make their first advances towards women at an age when it doesn't really matter but at 33 years old, Lawrence found out that the stakes were high.

He shyly arranged his first date over the internet and suggested a trip to the cinema, but baulked when he found out that she wanted to go clubbing.

"She's somebody I've not met, I don't know what she looks like, I don't know what she thinks, and all of sudden it's 'Let's go clubbing.'

"I'm too much of a novice to go into all that. I couldn't allow myself, for me I'm not mature yet to do that - I can't do that, not yet."

But mature enough or not, the opportunity to live a grown man's life was not something Lawrence was going to let slip by.

"I've really missed out on two decades of life and I need to catch up."

Source: Click here

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gina Wilson’s Speech for TEDxSydney 2010

I have come to speak to you about something you are certain you know about yourself and that you are almost certain you know about everybody else.

I have come to speak to you about your sex.

My name is Gina Wilson and I am intersex.

Intersex people are people with physical differences of sex anatomy. Differences where the person might be seen as having physical features of male and female at the same time, or as having features that are not quite male or not quite female, or having features where the person is neither male or female.

Intersex have genetic, hormonal or congenital differences so that our primary sex anatomy, such as external genitalia and internal reproductive parts, do not fit with conventional ideas of what makes a male or a female. Intersex can also include differences in our secondary sex anatomy. Secondary sex anatomy is things like breasts, hair distribution, bone structure or muscle mass.

Intersex people are not hermaphrodites.

Intersex is not about gender roles, that is, man or woman. Intersex is about your body, the parts that make you more or less male or female.

Intersex is not the same as transgender or transsexual. Intersex is not about transitioning. Intersex is about different anatomies.

There are four ways we come to know we are intersex.

The first is at birth where our bodies are so visibly different our intersex is easily known. Intersex people are often surgically altered at this time to try to make us un-intersex.

The second is during puberty when that happens in unexpected ways or sometimes does not happen at all.

The third way is when we have difficulties reproducing and the reason for those difficulties is our intersex. Intersex does not necessarily mean we are infertile but sometimes does.

The fourth way is by chance.

Sometimes paternity and maternity testing can reveal to someone that they are intersex.

And sometimes people who think they are transsexual can find out they are intersex during the testing procedures transsexuals have to go through.

You probably all assume you are not intersex.

Studies have shown at least 1.7% of the population is intersex. Those figures only indicate individuals who have come to the attention of medicine.

There are no absolutes for male or female – we all exist somewhere between those poles.

Intersex is simply differences around and between the possibility of maleness and femaleness.

Though I was born intersex, that word was not used to describe my differences until quite late in my life. In fact my intersex was a dark secret to me and most of those around me. I, like nearly all intersex people, had a sense of something about myself not being quite right, not really acceptable, something unspeakable.

My intersex has never caused me a moment of grief, illness, unhappiness or regret. Social attitudes to my intersex, on the other hand, have been and continue to be a cause of great sadness for me.

In my everyday life people assume they know why I am different. I am often thought to be transsexual, gay, queer, weird and I am frequently referred to using inappropriate pronouns. There is no shame in being trans, gay or queer. It is simply an outrageous assumption and an assumption that is underpinned by deeply held prejudices.

You might find yourself wondering about my body and what was done to me as a child and as an adult to “fix me up.”

I don’t talk about that to anyone but my partner and my specialist.

I’ll tell you why.

I find it really embarrassing – it is at the top end of unpleasant to speak to an audience about my genitals.

The way I was treated as a child is difficult to work out because records on intersex surgery weren’t kept in those days.

Personal stories, though riveting, have made little difference to intersex lives and intersex rights in the one hundred and fifty years since the first one was told.

We intersex have suffered the indignity of being sideshow freaks and the subject of voyeuristic speculation for hundreds of years. I’m not here to be that kind of exhibit.

I am here to tell you about intersex and that I am proud to be intersex.

Gina is the chairperson of OII Australia an affiliate of Organisation Internationale des Intersexués