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Intersex

Intersex people form a diverse population with many different kinds of bodies, sex characteristics, sex assignments, genders, identities, life experiences, and terminology and word preferencess. What we share in common is an experience of having innate sex characteristics (such as chromosomes, gonads or hormones) that differ from medical norms for female or male bodies. We risk violence, stigmatisation and harmful practices because our bodies are seen as different.

Intersex is a matter of bodily diversity. Underlying intersex traits can become evident prenatally, at birth, during puberty or at other times. Intersex is not about sexual orientation; people with intersex variations have as diverse a range of sexual orientations as non-intersex (“endosex”) people. Intersex is not about an experience of transition or gender identity; we have as diverse a range of gender identities as non-intersex people. Intersex is primarily about the body, although intersex people may have an identity that is contingent on our embodiment and natural sex characteristics. The term intersex was first used by science in the early 20th century; historically, the term “hermaphrodite” was used. The term is not applicable to situations where individuals deliberately alter their own anatomical characteristics.

Although figures vary, intersex people represent a significant percentage of the population.

Intersex people, especially those of us who are diagnosed at birth, in infancy or during puberty, are often the subject of surgical or hormonal interventions to “fix” our sex characteristics and make our bodies appear more typically female or male. Where these interventions take place without personal, fully informed consent they are “harmful practices”; they are still considered “therapeutic” in Australia, and they often take place for “psychosocial” rationales, based on clinician “belief” and “opinion”. We vigorously oppose these human rights violations. In doing so, we are supported by a diverse range of human rights institutions and other allies.

Intersex Human Rights Australia

Intersex Human Rights Australia Ltd (formerly Organisation Intersex International Australia or OII Australia) is a national body by and for people with intersex variations. We promote the human rights, self-determination and bodily autonomy of intersex people in Australia. We engage in systemic advocacy, policy development and community development, and provide information and education. We also run an online support group. Our goals are to help create a society where our bodies are not stigmatised, and where our rights as people are recognised.

Cumulatively, we have many decades of experience in human rights advocacy. We bring together qualifications and expertise in law, bioethics, healthcare, youth work and public administration. We have made significant contributions to human rights policy and practice in Australia and internationally, resulting in:

Intersex Human Rights Australia is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. We are recognised by the Australian Taxation Office as a charitable Public Benevolent Institution. We are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. IHRA is primarily resourced out of philanthropic and voluntary contributions, along with occasional project contracts.

We currently employ two part-time contract staff with philanthropic funding. We seek additional resourcing to fund employment of a lawyer, a social worker, communications person, and an admin person.

In March 2017, we joined with other Australian and Aotearoa/New Zealand intersex organisations, and independent advocates to publish a consensus statement on our human rights and health issues. Read our joint Darlington Statement.

Affiliations

Intersex Human Rights Australia works closely alongside the other major Australian intersex-led organisation, the AIS Support Group Australia.

We are a member of the Australian Child Rights Taskforce, the National LGBTI Health Alliance and ILGA. We are the Australian affiliate of Organisation Internationale des Intersexués (OII), a decentralised global network of intersex organisations.

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, their diversity, histories and knowledge and their continuing connections to land and community. We pay our respects to all Australian Indigenous peoples and their cultures, and to elders of past, present and future generations.

This page is periodically updated.