Congratulations to Mauro Cabral

Bob Hepple prize awards

The visibility of the intersex movement is hampered by our worldwide lack of resourcing. It’s also notable that intersex and LGBT movements can often diverge: while most intersex people know a lot about issues affecting same sex attracted and transgender people, this is frequently not reciprocal. There are few intersex voices in LGBTI spaces, our concerns often differ, and material about our concerns is often not perceived as “shareable” in the same way as more familiar, shared concerns.

It’s also the case that language and power play a role in what we perceive as worthy. From an Australian perspective, where people are used to hearing about “LGBTI”, even if they’re not always sure what it means, US activism on LGBT issues still dominates over local LGBTI discourse.

In this context, it’s really pleasing to congratulate Mauro Cabral on his receipt of an inaugural human rights award, from the Equal Rights Trust in London. For an Argentinian activist, from the global South, to receive recognition in an English-speaking country is also very welcome. More than this, Mauro’s work on depathologisation deserves this recognition.

Here are some of Mauro’s words:

As many other intersex activists I started my involvement with the intersex movement because of experiences that until recent times were defined as simply “medical”. After more than twenty years we have expropriated that definition, and are putting those normalizing procedures that mutilated our lives where they belong: a horrific list of human rights violations. However, those human rights violations against intersex people keep taking place, everyday, everywhere –including the same medically unnecessary interventions, but also genetic de-selection, selective abortion, sterilization and the many forms of stigma, discrimination and violence. This means that we not only must place this present reality definitively in the past of human kind, but also in the horizon of a reparative justice.

I don’t want to lie to you. I am accepting this award on equality works sustaining, at the same time, that for both trans and intersex people equality is not a standard, but still an aspiration –I would say, even access to defining the very meaning of equality happens to be still aspirational. Therefore, I interpret this ceremony as the expression of a shared commitment in expanding the realization of critical equalities.

Amongst other works, Mauro was a contributor to the recent World Health Organization paper on “Sexual health, human rights and the law“.

The Bob Hepple award is named for the former lawyer of Nelson Mandela.

Congratulations also to Pragma Patel of Southall Black Sisters in the UK.

I encourage the sharing of Mauro’s words.

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