We celebrate our 10th anniversary

ten - the number 10 in gold, with a purple outline
Today we are 10! Intersex Human Rights Australia Ltd was formally incorporated as a not-for-profit company on 6 May 2010, under the name OII Australia. Today we celebrate 10 years of advocacy and work to ensure that the human rights and health of people with intersex variations are recognised and respected.

Morgan Carpenter, co-executive director of IHRA, became a director of the company at incorporation ten years ago. He says:

In that time, we have succeeded in promoting change in some areas, and faced setbacks in others. Some of our strongest achievements have been collaborative, in community development and organising, such as the community consensus Darlington Statement. We were also been able to contribute to its predecessor, the 2013 Malta Declaration, and the later Yogyakarta Principles plus 10. Some of our early work with disability organisations helped promote intersex inclusion in the 2013 Senate committee inquiry on involuntary or coerced sterilisation, leading to the first parliamentary inquiry on the medicalisation of intersex people and violations of our rights. In more recent years, we’ve contributed to and supported work by the Australian Human Rights Commission, and international bodies such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and ILGA World. So much work remains unfinished, however.

Tony Briffa is co-executive director of IHRA and ILGA World secretary. She says:

Like the intersex human rights movement, Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) has come a long way in the last 10 years. IHRA has been instrumental in key changes both nationally and internationally, but we still have so much to do. Most people still don’t know what intersex is, intersex children are still being routinely abused in Australian hospitals without any legislative protections, and our work receives very little funding in Australia. I look forward to our next 10 years and to the improvements we can make to the lives of intersex people and their families. I call on our allies in other areas of human rights to join us to support and amplify our work.

Agli Zavros-Orr, chair of IHRA and education consultant, comments:

I would like to thank everyone who has been part of making IHRA (formerly Oii Australia) a significant contributor on the national and international stage in advancing the human rights of people with an intersex variation. This work has supported my own growth and development and has been a beacon of hope in a landscape that can be isolating and marginalising of intersex voices. I look forward to working with everyone associated with IHRA to further improve the lives of all people with an intersex variation.

Darlington retreat

Members of Australian and Aotearoa/NZ intersex organisations, and independent advocates, collaborating in Darlington, Sydney, in March 2017. Read our joint Darlington Statement. Photo courtesy of Phoebe Hart.

Candice Cody, IHRA board member and administrator of The XXY Project, says:

I’ve been a board member of IHRA for seven years and sat in on a few informal meetings in the years before then. Getting involved has opened up doors that were previously welded shut and included a growing awareness of what it means to be Intersex, in ways that also included non-genital surgeries, yet were equally as destructive to one’s mental capacity. We’ve travelled far over those years and while society is not yet there in terms of full acceptance of our diversity, we are at the point where there’s no turning back and people are beginning to listen. Love Intersex, love IHRA.

Aileen Kennedy, lecturer in law at UNE and director of IHRA, comments on our role as a centre of expertise, including for academic researchers:

IHRA provides robust advocacy on behalf of the intersex community, including contributing to ground-breaking developments like the Darlington Statement, the Senate Committee Inquiry into Sterilisation of Intersex People, and the Australian Human Rights Commission Inquiry into Protecting the Human Rights of People Born with Variations in Sex Characteristics in the context of Medical Interventions. IHRA contributes so much to the well-being of the intersex community and allies that it is difficult to identify the sheer extent of effective and meaningful advocacy they provide. From a personal perspective, IHRA is also the most reliable source of information about the intersex community and the issues that impact most directly on the community. As an academic researcher I am thankful for the IHRA’s provision of non-medicalised, detailed, comprehensive and accurate material. Without access to IHRA’s website, include a massive digital library of sources, documents, commentary, reports, submissions and data, it would be very difficult to obtain independent information about intersex which is not heavily curated by the medical profession.

We give thanks for the many friends, colleagues, partners and allies of Intersex Human Rights Australia, both within Australia and internationally. Without allies and partners, our work would not be possible – it takes a village. Some individuals have generously commented on our anniversary.

Ed Santow, Human Rights Commissioner, comments:

Congratulations to Intersex Human Rights Australia on reaching this milestone. The advocacy of Intersex Human Rights Australia continues to be invaluable in progressing human rights, especially for people born with variations in sex characteristics. I wish IHRA every success for the next ten years to come – and many more after that.

Bonnie Hart, Intersex Peer Support Australia and artist, says:

Since 2010 IHRA has provided a clear and consistent voice highlighting social, medical, and human rights ideals for intersex people in Australia, fearlessly identifying how systemic pathologisation and stigmatisation harm those of us born with variations in sex characteristics. More than addressing the many misconceptions society and clinical frameworks hold around bodily diversity, IHRA has helped pave the way for intersex voices to be heard, held, respected and protected. I want to acknowledge how challenging this work has been and how skilful and amazing the people who defend our human rights and build the intersex community are. Intersex is now on the map but many of us are still lost from view. To build an intersexy road that rises to meet the feet of each different intersex person and family member, we need all sectors of society to work together in allyship, respecting the rights and voices of our youngest and oldest community members. I wish IHRA every good fortune leading the way towards such a future.

Steph Lum, former co-chair and editor of YOUth&I magazine, says:

Congratulations IHRA on 10 years! Thank you for your huge contributions to local and international advocacy and community building during this time. Thank you also for supporting younger intersex advocates to speak up, including your support for the YOUth&I project. I wish IHRA the best of luck into the future.

Cody Smith, community member and AGA support worker in ACT, says:

There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to do half the advocacy and support work that I do without a resource like IHRA at my fingertips. Not just the years worth of experience, research, and collective wisdom to tap into. But the support of a community, and opportunities I could never have found on my own. The inherent value of a first stop resource I can trust has saved me more time and energy than I can count. Perhaps most importantly, it is through IHRA that I see a way forward for intersex rights. A bright future where the dignity and autonomy of intersex variation is supported and celebrated.

ICD submission group

International collaboration on a joint ICD submission led by Mauro Cabral Grinspan, in Geneva. Photo: Holly Greenberry, IntersexUK

Mauro Cabral Grinspan, executive director of GATE, comments on the international aspects of our work:

IHRA has contributed to change the landscape of intersex activism in three decisive ways: by addressing intersex issues from a perspective that combines expert knowledge with strong ethical and political commitments; by supporting collaborative initiatives across the globe; and by providing critical resources to intersex movements at the national, regional and international level.

Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of interACT and author, states:

Under the outstanding leadership of Morgan, Tony and the rest of the team, IHRA has really set the bar for thoughtful, intelligent and effective advocacy for the global intersex community. I’ve learned so much from IHRA and am proud to be a collaborator in the continued fight for intersex human rights.

Miriam van der Have, head of NNID and co-chair of OII Europe, comments:

For ten years now IHRA has been part of a growing international intersex movement. As such, IHRA is a highly valued colleague with whom we enjoy working. We meet at different places and at different times. But no matter how long we haven’t seen each other, the collaboration always continues as if no time has passed. We hope that IHRA and OII Europe will continue to support each other in the future and that together we can improve the human rights situation of intersex people.

Holly Greenberry of iUK says:

IHRA has without any shadow of doubt altered the face of activism, social awareness and education in delivering some ground breaking intersex human rights advancements, the team are an incredible asset not only to the Australian Intersex movement, but most certainly to the international movement also. Their drive and expertise is changing the desolate landscape where intersex was shamed, hidden and miss understood, into a place of recognition, support and value, and is ultimately delivering a safer future environment for Intersex / VSC bodied babies, youth and adults; their initiatives and drive to Unite has supported an indescribable positive change within intersex human rights. We are proud to be allies, colleagues and friends. I and the iUK team wish IHRA an incredible forthcoming 10 years.

Therese Sands and Matthew Bowden, former Co-CEOs of People with Disability Australia, comment:

We congratulate the members, board, Co-Executive Directors, staff and volunteers of Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) on your 10th anniversary. As an organisation IHRA has successfully amplified the voice of intersex people and in doing so has raised awareness and educated the public about the issues and injustices faced by many intersex people in Australia and around the world. Collectively you have done an exemplary job at representing the human rights of all intersex people, including babies and infants who are born with intersex variations. We commend you on your engagement with human rights mechanisms and United Nations treaty bodies and your contribution to the advancement of national and international human rights law on intersex rights. Your commitment to working collaboratively with the disability community has informed and developed the application of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and this is evident in UN jurisprudence and the growing recognition on the issues and human rights of intersex people. It has been an enormous privilege to work alongside you on the many shared concerns and interests of the disability and intersex communities and we wish you every success for the future.

Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia, comments:

Congratulations to IHRA, formerly OII Australia, on its 10 year birthday! It’s been wonderful to witness and work with its leaders as they have built an impressively cohesive intersex movement in Australia – achieving the Darlington Statement – as well as contributing greatly to international advocacy. Let’s hope the next 10 years brings some important change to ensure intersex people are empowered to make informed choices about what happens to their bodies.

We also thank the essential support of our major donors, including an anonymous international philanthropic fund, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Victorian state government, and the generous support of individual donors.

Thank you all for your kind words, support and generosity. It is a pleasure to work alongside you.