The recently added “I” in LGBTIQ has got a lot of people confused about what it means to be intersex. A newly released Buzzfeed video, “What It's Like to Be Intersex” is clearing up that confusion and simultaneously eradicating the stigma associated with the identity.
In the video, intersex individual, Emily Quinn, explains that “Intersex describes a person who doesn't fit the typical definition of male and female.” An estimated 1 in 2,000 people are born intersex, and these individuals "may have variations in their gonads, chromosomes or genitalia," the video points out. Quinn, for instance, identifies as a woman but has testes and XY chromosomes, and another individual in the video, Alice Alvarez, is an intersex woman with XY chromosomes “but typical female genitalia.”
The video distinguishes that transgender and intersex are not one in the same. Quinn explains that transgender is about your gender expression and identity while intersex deals with biology.
"Often, intersex people get surgeries that they don't want, and transgender people have to fight for the surgeries that they do want,” Sean Saifa Wall, an intersex man says.
One of the main issues intersex people face is the medical community trying to “fix” them by performing unnecessary “normalizing” surgeries.
Did you know that everyday 3-5 #intersex children in the U.S. have non consensual genital "surgery" strictly for cosmetic purposes...still.— Pidgeon Pagonis (@pidgejen) March 30, 2015
Wall’s internal testes were removed when he was 13 years old because doctors said they could potentially become cancerous. He was raised female, given hormonal treatments and forced to conform to that gender identity. It was not until he was 25 that he rebelled and began identifying as an intersex man.
Intersex people continue to face pressures from the medical community to conform to gender norms and hide who they really are.
"My doctors always told me there was nobody else like me," Quinn says, "so it just perpetuates a vicious cycle of shame and stigma that we can’t break out of.”
Despite this naïve assumption by the medical field that intersex is unhealthy, Alvarez wants you to know, "Intersex people don't need to be fixed. There is nothing wrong with them."