by Lena Nyhus
I have always felt strongly about the plight of intersexual people or hermaphrodites as their were called, when I grew up. I have only ever spoken to very few. I have no idea about how frequently it happens, that children are born with genitals that are different from the norm of either female or male. I don’t know anything about how often it happens that people are born into bodies that appear to belong to one gender, but actually feel as the opposite gender either. I’m simply uninformed about these things. One thing I do know though is that people are people. Period.
But I understand that it must be immensely difficult to feel trapped in a body, that does not conform to the norm, at least to the extent that anyone who hasn’t tried it can possibly understand it. I understand that it must be challenging to come to terms with something that is only rarely seen or heard of in society. I understand that it must be heart breaking to be brought up under circumstances where parents, doctors or society with the best of intentions try to raise the child to certain gender norms or perhaps even force it to undergo operations.
I do not claim to have the right answer – or any answer at all – to the challenges faced by families with children who do not conform to the norm of male or female, but I don’t think that forcing operations on the children from an early age is the answer.
The two videos, I have posted here, represent my very first slow conscious venture into forming an informed opinion about the genital integrity of intersexual children. At this point I fully support the intersexual child’s right to genital integrity and acceptance in society as they are and equally fully support the informed adult’ right to operation if they find that they live in bodies that do not correspond to the gender, they feel they belong to.
I’m not sure I understand the term intersex. Transgender and transsexuality, I get. Because it appears in most cases to be about swopping from one gender to another, but it appears to me that intersexuality is not merely about being something in between. Why are intersex children or hermaphrodites not simply just something in their own right? Perhaps I’m missing something here?
One thing I am absolutely sure about at this point is, that society as a whole has to grow to become much more accepting and embracing of people who do not fit into neat little boxes. I don’t particularly care whether the challenge is gender, colour, culture, sexuality, mental illness, physical disabilities or whatever it could possibly be. I really don’t care. We simply need to respect, accept and embrace each other. Simple as that. People are people.
When I posted this piece to my Facebook page one of my kind readers made me aware of a great page with a virtual abundance of information about intersex people, it’s called The Intersex Roadshow and from the little I have read so far, it appears to be a really great blog. I had the pleasure to read a piece called Intersex Genitalia Illustrated and Explaned and it was absolutely brilliant.