On 26 October 1996, Morgan Holmes and Max Beck, were turned away from an opportunity to speak at a paediatrics conference in Boston. They had hoped to speak to address the ways they had been treated – the ways their bodies had been changed, before they were able to personally consent – as people with intersex variations. The conference organisers issued a press statement defending genital surgeries on infants as in the best interests of children.
The movement grew, bringing people together to provide each other with support, and advocating for systemic reforms. This first public demonstration was first marked as Intersex Awareness Day in 2003 by Betsy Driver and Emi Koyama.
IHRA was founded (as OII Australia) in 2009, incorporating in 2010. Three years later the hard work of its volunteers would pay off in a series of significant wins, including establishment of the first protections from discrimination act, creation of the intersex pride flag, and the reporting of a first Senate committee inquiry that would recognise the nature and extent of human rights abuses in Australia.
The following years saw work to implement the Senate committee’s recommendations, build community, evidence and infrastructure. In 2016, we secured foreign philanthropic funding to enable that work. In 2017, Darlington Statement represented a landmark coming together of peer support workers and advocates from across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand to demand better conditions for intersex people. Acting on evidence of continuing harm, the Australian Human Rights Commission engaged in an inquiry that recommended the dismantling anachronistic and harmful medical norms, supporting a building case for legislative protections.
It would still take ten years before we would realise intersex legislation for the first time in Australia with the passing of the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023 in the Australian Capital Territory. The conversation has profoundly shifted, and the momentum behind intersex justice has never been stronger.
This year is the year where your support can make the most difference. This is the turning point and it’s crucial that on a day like today we celebrate what we have accomplished.
Intersex is not invisible, we have always been here, part of the diversity of humanity. Our pride shakes the shame and stigma that has kept us hidden all our lives. Our voices together are stronger than ever. There is no stopping until we realise intersex justice
Visibility. Pride. Solidarity. Justice.
Intersex Awareness Day events
Give Out Day 2023
Intersex Awareness Day coincidentally falls on the same day as Give Out Day, your donation dollar has never been more powerful. Donations made to our Give Out Day page are doubled today, your support is crucial to helping us retain staff and campaign around the country.
Intersex Awareness Day 2023 Webinar – Introducing Interlink
Watch this conversation with Bonnie Hart and Natalie Hamam about the Interlink Pilot program and the importance of psychosocial support in protecting and empowering intersex people.
Gávi Ansara’s workshops on intimacy
Off the back of a chapter publication examining the impact of trauma on intersex intimacy and relationships, we are proud to be working in collaboration with Dr Gávi Ansara to bring a pair of workshops next week.
- Coming up Sunday afternoon we have a workshop for anyone with an intersex variation.
- On Monday Evening we have a workshop for service providers to help support access to this vital resource.
Announcing the 2023 Darling Award winner
On Intersex Awareness Day we award “the Darling” in recognition of outstanding intersex allyship. Allyship gives life and energy to the intersex movement and makes us bigger than we can dream of. Waving our flag, supporting the Darlington Statement, recognition on a day like today all contributes to community understanding and we are grateful to those who add their voices to ours. With the Darling we look for the above and beyond, the contributions that don’t just embody intersex allyship, but fully realise the goals of our human rights movement and supports our community in material and meaningful ways. Creating resources, consulting and collaborating with our community, building that community with infrastructure all exemplify the Darling in previous years.
This year there was one remarkable piece of work that finally realised what the intersex community has been working towards for decades. Our heartfelt congratulations goes to the Office of LGBTIQA+ Affairs as part of the ACT department of Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate. In particular the team responsible for creating and delivering the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023, the first intersex protective legislation in Australia. This piece of work doesn’t just protect intersex people in the ACT but sets a standard and starts new conversations right across Australia.
Statement by the Office of LGBTIQ+ Affairs:
“The Office of LGBTIQ+ Affairs is very honoured to receive the Darling Award this year. This award is the culmination of four years of partnership with the intersex community, to develop a new framework of care for people with variations in sex characteristics, particularly young people. We hope our work helps set new standards for intersex care and rights. We value the Darling Award because it tells us we have engaged effectively with community, and that is essential to good policy-making.”
24 hours free access to Common As Red Hair movie
Available for 24 hours only: an award-winning intersex short movie with executive production by Kimberly Zieselman (formerly executive director of interACT). The password for this free access period is IAD2023:
OII Europe’s Depath campaign provides great information on adverse forms of medicalisation. It also contains links to Australian resources, and works written by Australians.
The US State Department has issued a strong condemnation of “physical conversion practices”. Morgan says:
The US State Department has just published a strong statement condemning harmful practices on children with intersex variations. It also names them as physical conversion practices.
Australian legislation prohibiting LGBT conversion practices has not addressed or acknowledged this, despite advocacy by folks at IHRA.
I’d observe that legislation looks different, and no models were available ‘off the shelf’ when states started banning conversion therapies here. Protecting us might have delayed legislation for them. Now the ACT has passed legislation protecting children with innate varaions of sex characteristics, and Victoria is working on legislation. This was never an excuse, really, but now there’s no excuse.
The US Health and Human Services Dept is also issuing a health equity report on the health of intersex people. I’m looking forward to reading it!
Disclosure: I was a guest of the State Dept in Washington last month.
We’ll update this page throughout the day.