Metro Weekly

Congressional Resolution Celebrates Intersex Awareness Day

Two Democrats have introduced a resolution to recognize Intersex Awareness Day and advocate for protections for that community.

U.S. Reps. Becca Balint and Mark Pocan – Photos: U.S. House of Representatives

Two congressional Democrats put forth the first-ever resolution recognizing October 26 as Intersex Awareness Day.

The resolution, introduced by U.S. Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), affirms the dignity and the universal human right to bodily autonomy of intersex individuals.

Observed annually, the day is intended to raise awareness of the issues that intersex individuals face, to promote understanding and acceptance of intersex identity, and advocate for the rights of intersex individuals, including their ability to access appropriate and respectful health care treatments.

It also commemorates the first public demonstration by intersex people in the United States at the annual conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1996.

Intersex is a term referring to people with variations in physical traits that differ from typical expectations for male and female bodies regarding the development, appearance, or function of sex-related characteristics.

The term can encompass people who have variations in genitals, gonads, reproductive organs, hormone production, or chromosome patterns. Those traits can present immediately upon birth or may occur naturally at a later time.

Intersex individuals face unique challenges and circumstances, particularly in terms of health care and obtaining documents that reflect their identity.

For instance, many intersex people are, as children, forced to undergo unnecessary genital surgeries in an effort to force their bodies to “conform” to stereotypical notions of gender.

Even as nearly two dozen states have passed laws prohibiting transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming treatments over the past few years, each of those laws contains explicit exceptions allowing doctors to prescribe hormones or perform surgery on intersex youth.

Balint and Pocan’s resolution expresses support for the “goals and ideals” of Intersex Awareness Day, and encourages the federal government, state governments, nonprofit organizations, schools, and community organizations to observe the day with programs and activities that aim to increase public knowledge of and promote respect for the community.

The resolution encourages health care providers to offer culturally and clinically competent care to the intersex community, and encourages schools to support education regarding the intersex community, including connecting individuals to resources for young people with intersex variations and their families.

It also encourages the federal and state governments, international funding organizations, and U.S. bilateral and multilateral aid efforts to “prioritize the health and human rights of intersex people.”

“Intersex people must be recognized as valid and seen within the LGBTQI+ community,” Balint, the co-chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, said in a statement. “This resolution is an important step in uplifting the intersex community and fighting interphobia.”

“For far too long, intersex people have been left out of the conversation when discussing inclusivity, health equity, and equality for all,” Pocan said in a statement. “Today and every day we must uplift members of the intersex community and recommit to ensuring all levels of government are prioritizing the needs of the intersex community.”

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