For Intersex Awareness Day yesterday, the internet was awash with numerous posts on the subject. One that I particularly liked was by Tony Briffa, an Australian writing about “My experience as the world’s first openly intersex Mayor“. Briffa writes candidly about life as an intersex person, one who is “intersex and am therefore not exclusively female or male”, and the difficulties presented by being perceived sometimes as male, sometimes as female. The simple physical fact is, that Briffa was born with some male parts, but a primarily female body. The social facts of living as partly both, is a different matter entirely – not simple at all.
In LGBT groups, we sometimes come across discussions about a possible need to expand to LGBTI, to provide explicit inclusion of intersex people, just as gay groups earlier expanded their own terminology to make explicit inclusion of lesbians, bisexual and trans people. One response to that, is to leave that decision to the intersex community themselves: it is known that many intersex people do not want to be lumped together with the LGBT community, as their problems and issues are of a different kind entirely. (But then, much the same can be said about transgender people – their issues are not about sexual orientation). In this respect, I note that Briffa does write, at one point early in the story, of having “felt very comfortable in the LGBT community, and I could openly discuss who I am and being intersex”.
However, it remains true that the issues are entirely different. It would be completely wrong for me as a gay man to even remotely attempt to describe the experience of an intersex person, and I’m not about to do it.
Read it for yourself, at Intersexday,org – where no doubt you can also find many other useful posts, to learn more about an important but widely misunderstood part of the human population.Y