GURLS TALK: INTERSEX

Words by Danielle Coyle

In partnership with GURLS TALK

The word intersex is an umbrella term that refers to people who have one or more of a range of variations in sex characteristics that fall outside of traditional conceptions of male or female bodies. For example, they may have variations in their chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs like testes or ovaries. Sometimes these characteristics are identified at birth, while other people might not discover they have intersex traits until puberty or later in life. 

Although intersex people make up to 1.7% of the population – which is roughly as common as twins – we’ve been invisible throughout history due to the shame and stigma placed upon us by society. For many years, intersex has been a word used by the medical community to describe disorders rather than biological differences. It’s a word that has been weaponised in order to ‘fix’ and ‘other’ those who don’t fit into the socially constructed binary. To this day intersex folk are still being marginalised and oppressed, and even within LGBTQIA+ conversations and spaces, the I is often forgotten or silenced.  

For years, I believed that I would never find the community I so desperately longed for. Still, with the help of the internet and social media, I slowly began to discover more and more people with similar life experiences to me. I guess my initial reason for starting my project Interface, my Instagram portrait series documenting intersex people, was to have an excuse to meet other intersex people without feeling awkward about asking, but through the process of the project, my reasons to continue have become many and varied. 

Not only do I want to bring visibility to my community, but also highlight our diversity, and dismantle the stereotypes wrongly thrust upon us by a misinformed society. I also hope that Interface will help humanise intersex people: It’s easy to deny us our rights, our bodily autonomy and our existence when we’re just a faceless concept. But here’s the thing: We’re not mythical creatures or shameful walking disorders, we’re real, we’re human, and these are our faces. 

This article originally appeared in The Rise Together Issue #7 of BRICKS Magazine.

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