Marie Claire Australia writes about intersex

Julietta Jameson writes in the December issue of Marie Claire Australia:

“Although the condition remains, in Mani’s words, shrouded in “silence and secrecy”, it’s astonishingly prevalent, with some doctors claiming that one per cent of the population can fall into the category, along a spectrum of conditions ranging from misplaced urethras to enlarged clitorises and ambiguous exterior genital physiology.

Internal conditions include male or female chromosomes in the opposite sex, hormonal imbalances and male gonads in women.

Yet despite its frequency, this “third sex” is poorly understood, and carries “freak show” connotations that make those with it reluctant to speak out….”

Marie Claire Australia, December 2009

We have notes about some of the content of the article, and these follow below.


  • OII Australia rejects the terminology of Disorders of Sex Development (DSDs) as pathologising and stigmatising.
  • We are saddened that the article uses the term DSD interchangeably with intersex.
  • “Judy” did not make it clear that real progesterone is not available in Australia. Actual progesterone – chemically identical to the progesterone the human body makes – is very different to the artificial substitutes – aka progestins – invented and patented by drug companies.
  • Oral forms of estrogen are not suitable for lifelong use by intersex people or long-term use by non-intersex people.

Comment from Gina Wilson, one of the interviewees:

Despite several very long recorded interviews and e-mail follow-ups with me, this article has factual inaccuracies and sadly does not report DSD as a contested term. Julietta told me she did not speak to a single intersex person who liked DSD, she is aware it is an insulting term to us and yet she put it in there.

I did not say that I had surgery as a child to make me appear more feminine. I don’t know where that one came from, Julietta. My life story is a bit more complex and nuanced than that.

OII struggles against a society that pathologises our difference, a society that often perceives us as freaks. Reporting intersex using the DSD terminology reinforces the notion that we are diseased and in need of a cure.

You did not report your conversation with Gary Warne – the leading Australian paediatric endocrinologist. You told me he said, “If I was intersex I would not want to be called disordered.” That’s a fairly significant omission.

Readers’ comments on Marie Claire Australia web pages for this article:

One Comment


Unfortunately Gina it’s something I see happening time and time again. Prior to this article it was Chloe Prince and ABC Primetime. Her being XXY was totally lost in the ABC’s intent on a story about transsexuals. Sadly for OII, Marie Claire’s article was no different in their hunt for sensationalism.


Comments are closed.