Does Intersex Belong in the LGBT Movement?

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The Crystal Connection, offers support and education for the Intersex Community – I as well as everyone, need to educate ourselves concerning this!  Maybe, if we in the Transgendered Community Stop. look and listen, they could teach us all something.    I,  and my Crystal Connection, will fight to support them,  in their endeavors to be heard and understood !!!!



The article below was written by

By:  Emi Koyama, Intersex Initiative


Should LGBT groups add the “I” (for intersex) to their names, mission statements, etc.? That is the question many people are asking, but there is no simple answer.


There are a couple of reasons for adding the “I” to LGBT. First, intersex bodies are pathologized and erased in a way that is similar to how homosexuality has historically been treated within psychiatry. Even though homosexuality has been officially depathologized for three decades, transgender people are still labeled as having “gender identity disorder” and thus treated as something abnormal rather than a natural human variety. From this point of view, intersex is just another sexual minority that is pathologized and treated as “abnormal.”


Another reason is that the surgical treatment for intersex conditions is heavily motivated by homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny. Western medicine defines “functional” male and female genitalia in terms of its ability to participate in a heterosexual intercourse, rather than how much sexual enjoyment patients can achieve–which is why removing a woman’s clitoris is medically acceptable according to (mostly male and straight) doctors, as long as her vagina is deep enough to be penetrated by a penis.


However, some concerns have been raised among intersex activists about the phenomenon of LGBT groups adopting the “I.”


First, some people fear that adding the “I” would give the wrong impression that all or most intersex people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/ or transgender. Obviously, some intersex people are, and some aren’t–but when we are dealing with young children and their parents, there is a concern that the association with LGBT would drive away parents of intersex children who would otherwise seek out information and resources about intersex conditions. Worse, the misperception might push parents to demand more surgeries to ease their concern about the child’s future sexuality or gender identity.


Second, there is already a lot of conflation between LGBT and intersex in the society, and constantly being combined with LGBT might prevent intersex from getting its own visibility, or make it hard for intersex people to find intersex-specific resources. For example, if you search for the word “LGBTI” on the internet, most articles that would come up deal with LGBT issues–marriage, discrimination, hate crimes, etc.–with no mention of any issues that actually apply to intersex people.


Similar to this, there is also a concern that adding the “I” would make it appear as if what intersex people need is the same thing that LGBT people need. For example, adding intersex to the non-discrimination ordinance or hate crime law is completely insufficient to address the human rights issues faced by intersex people, but it gives the false impression that intersex people’s rights are protected.


Lastly, the model of organizing is very different. People with intersex conditions generally do not organize around the “identity” or “pride” of being intersex; “intersex” is a useful word to address political and human rights issues, but there is yet to be an intersex “community” or “culture” the way we can talk about LGBT communities (although this may change in the future). In other words, adding the “I” does not necessarily make the organization appear more welcoming to intersex people. For many people, “intersex” is just a condition, or history, or site of horrifying violation that they do not wish to revisit.


If that is the case, what can be said about whether or not to add the “I”? I feel that we should take a pragmatic approach. If adding the “I” would enable you to put your energy and resources onto doing more things that help the intersex movement, then by all means add the “I.” If adding the “I” will help you become a better resource for people with intersex conditions, then do it. You might make some intersex people angry, but at least you are doing something concrete to help end shame, secrecy and isolation that are imposed on intersex children.


But do not think that adding the “I” as an empty gesture is by itself an achievement. Adding “intersex” to an LGBT group must mean a commitment to take concrete actions to address the specific needs of intersex people; anything less is tokenism, or a mere fashion statement, which will not benefit the intersex movement.


Also, remember that you do not need to change your organization’s name in order to help intersex activism: An LGBT organization can and should be working on intersex issues just like it should be working on other social justice issues, such as anti-racism and anti-sexism. What counts is what you do, not how your organization is spelled.



Thank you for your comment - Jamie Lee

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