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Back You are here: Home GLBTIQ GLBTIQ 1st International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day: 26 April

1st International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day: 26 April

1st International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day: 26 April

The first International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day has been declared 26 April and will be an awareness day and celebration of the existence or sex and/or gender diverse people, writes Tracie O’Keefe.

Sex and/or gender diverse people are encouraged to have picnics, tea parties, festivals or gatherings in their part of the world, inviting their family, friends and allies to join them.

We will be visible in all our sex and/or gender variations. It is for all intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, androgynous, without sex and gender identity, cross-dressers, sex and gender fluid, transqueers, genderqueers, etc.

It is a day to have a picnic, tea party, gathering or festival wherever you are. In my 1999 book Sex Gender and Sexuality: 21st Century Transformations my research calculated that at least 1% of the world’s population is sex and/or gender diverse.

OK – so many of us who are sex and/or gender diverse are scary to the masses because we are out there being visible, but the majority are stealth, invisible and often live with shame thrust upon them by ignorance or trying to evade an over-controlling medicalisation of their identities and prejudice.

When I was 15, Kevin B, the boy I grew up next door to, told me his mother expressly did not want him speaking to me because she was afraid I was dangerous.

I did have very high hair, one-foot high platforms and more make-up and fashion accessories than most department stores, plus a boyfriend on one arm, girlfriend on the other and was registered at school as a boy – admittedly in 1970 that was probably a bit frightening to the public. I was never one for half measures.

Nowadays I’m more likely to shop in K-Mart and be found peering through a microscope. I don’t stick out in crowd (apart from my red hennaed hair), so I’m just your plain old intersex, transexed sort of girl. But the law still prevents me from having all the same rights as someone who was registered as their lived sex at birth.

Many of us who are sex and/or gender diverse are still a complete mystery to the public because we are not stereotypically male or female genetically, physically, psychologically or socially and, more often than not, legally.

Schools only tend to teach what Janet and John did up the hill when they went for a pale of water. Even biology professors at university struggle with the concept that sex is not just a binary lottery but a roulette wheel of diversity. Many social sciences gender studies professionals also have little understanding of the difference between sex and gender.

Many of us don’t fit into the pure male, female, transgender or transsexual boxes that society, clinicians, researchers, and even many so-called gender liberationists are trying to force us into.

We won’t be numbered, categorised, commoditised, and managed. We won’t be mugged of our differences and we don’t want to be pegged in a sex and gender class system that depicts us as mistakes and lesser human beings with lesser civil rights. We may even be actually embracing some of our differences, or at the very least not be ashamed of them.

Buck Angel, FTM porn star

“I am a man who lives life on his own terms,” world-famous FTM porn star Buck Angel told The Scavenger. “I was born female but was not ever able to feel comfortable in my body so I changed that and now live as a man.

“My work in the education, advocacy and the adult entertainment field has earned me recognition all over the world and has helped to show people that it is important to be yourself and that societies rules are not always the right way to live. Be free with your body and enjoy life. 

“International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day is a very important day for everyone who feels like they do not fit into the box that society has made for us. It is time to show the world we are proud of who we are, I believe that there is power in numbers and the more people that support causes like this and get the message out there the more the world will be and amazing place to live,” Buck said.

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There are literally hundreds of ways a person can be physically neither strictly male nor female. Many intersex people may not know they are intersex until they try to have children and find they are infertile.

Other people may be born with reproductive organs of both sexes. Many intersex people have had those facts hidden from them by parents and doctors and had involuntary surgery performed on them as children without their knowledge.

Curtis Hinkle, Organisation Intersex International (OII)

“I am an activist and translator living in South Carolina, USA,” said founder of Organisation Intersex International Curtis Hinkle. “I was born intersex, brought up initially as a girl and rejected that assignment with my grandmother's approval at an early age and lived as a boy.  I studied at the Université de Montpellier, France, where I took my degree in Linguistics. 

“I founded OII in 2003 in order to create a forum for intersex people to speak for themselves with the control of experts and other who often speak for us. It was originally a French-speaking organisation. However, with the change in terminology in which the medical establishment replaced ‘intersex’ with the term ‘DSD’ (Disorders of Sex Development), more and more people from around the world joined OII. 

“We are dedicated to resisting the medical model and non-consensual medical treatment of intersex people. We promote a holistic human rights and person-centred model. We regularly reach across cultural and language barriers to support and improve the lives of intersex individuals on six continents. 

“I was the first intersex person to make a complaint to the EEOC, a federal agency in the US because of discrimination by my employer and the agency accepted my complaint under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). 

“After finding out that I had no protection against sexual harassment or discrimination because my sex was ‘indeterminate’ and only males and females were protected according to the investigators from the EEOC, I became an intersex activist. 

“I maintain that I have no disability and feel that rather than having my charge accepted as such, it should have been accepted for what it was: sexual discrimination and harassment. My main goal is that as many intersex voices as possible, regardless of identity, country or language be heard. 

“I am proud to be part of the International Sex and/or Gender Diverse Day celebration. I fully support diversity and inclusion,” said Curtis. 

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Many poorly trained medical professionals, psychologists and health professionals are still trying to fit sex and gender variant people in into 1960’s transsexual models and dictating identities to them, as opposed to listening to the person. 

‘Transgender’, the new medical buzzword is also carelessly used to try and describe those who don’t fit into the predetermined pathological models. 

Norrie (aka Norrie May-Welby)

“I was diagnosed transsexual in 1985 aged 23, and had genital realignment surgery in 1989, but quickly realised this did not mean I was seen by everyone else as a woman, and I began to question the assumptions inherent in a binary-gendered world view,” said Scottish-born, Australian-based Norrie, who hit the global media headlines recently after being granted – then stripped of – a ‘sex not specified’ recognised details certificate.

“Reading feminist literature helped me break sex stereotypes and reclaim the parts that are labelled unladylike, and personal development course helped me face myself and the world with honesty about my gender and sex. I became more comfortable with seeing androgynous people and historical eunuchs as my peers and role models rather than aspiring to be like a stereotypical Barbie doll.

“I went off hormones a couple of years after my balls were removed in the genital realignment surgery, and am very comfortable having an androgynous body and an androgynous identification.

“It bugged me every time I had to nominate which inappropriate sex was appropriate, and everything from government forms to internet news comments sites want to know whether one is male or female before one can proceed further.

“I was outraged to learn of how babies with various intersex conditions are operated on so that paperwork can be completed, their birth right hacked away so the birth can be registered as a male or as a female.

Sex and Gender Education (SAGE (Australia) has been lobbying for all people to have the right to appropriate identification recognised in practice, whether they are male or female or both or neither or just would rather not be labelled in those terms.

“When told that the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM) would certify me as sex not specified if I produced medical certification to that effect, I was very happy to apply for this, and overjoyed to receive the certification with the cover letter stating it was approved and finalised.

“As you may be aware, the story went round the world, then the registrar phoned to say he'd made a mistake, and the story went round the world again. There's a Russian androgyne, anatomically just like me, coming out of the closet with full frontal photo spreads, and activists in Barcelona lobbying to be free of inappropriate sex labelling.

“No matter what the NSW Registrar of BDM says about my identity, I am now known to the entire news reading world as the person recognised as neither a man nor woman The idea of being a socially acceptable human without having to have a fixed label of sex has gained unstoppable momentum.

“The 26 April can be a day to acknowledge our sex and/or gender diversity and let it out the closet, no matter who or what we are,” said Norrie. 

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Labels can be a class system if you label without permission, particularly when someone does not see themselves as that identity. 

Sure we all want to tell people the nearest kind of estimation of what we are all about but when others try to force labels on us, without our permission, it is abuse. 

While this day is for all sex and/or gender diverse people all over the world, perhaps like the Still Fierce: Sydney Sex and Gender Diverse Collective you can also declare it ‘No Labels Day’ too, where we declassify our differences within sex and gender subcultures and reclassify ourselves as simply human beings with difference. 

Happy Sex And/or Gender Diversity Day for April 26! 

Join the Facebook group for the 1st International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day.

Join the Facebook group for Sydney event. 

If you’re organising something in your town or city, email The Scavenger’s editor (click contact link) with details and we’ll put a link to it here. 

Tracie O’Keefe is the spokesperson for Sex and Gender Education (SAGE Australia) and the author/editor of several book and papers on sex and gender diversity, the latest being Trans People in Love.

 

 

 

Comments   

0 #8 tracieokeefe 2010-04-10 03:36
Hello MishMich
You have a really good question and I'm so glad you asked it. The answer though was in my 1997 book Trans-X-U-All: The Naked Difference and it is very simple. You need to look to the internet. 1990 no cival rights for virtualy all sex and/or gender diverse people - globally. Internet arrives we find each other gather numbers and make huge strides. We are however still very divided and oppresed by our own divisions. Intersex fighting for this, transsexuals for that and transgendered for the other and the poor cross dresser seen as the great unwashed - need I go on. Its time to put down our exclusive members cards for those iconoclasitic clubs and connect against the opression of all sex and/or gender diverse people everywhere. I've been around trans, intersex and diverse people since 1967 and been one since 1955. I'm bored of burying bodies and being told that I have a mental illness or wierd physical disability just because of what I am.
No one is trying to take away those precious labels but SGD is an easy open phrase that can give all of us options and respect as a collective whilst keeping our own identities. Don't you want to play nice together? On the 26th April we can all put our differences aside, for at least one day, and just gather together, where ever we are, as people of sex and/or gender diversity. just for a day - you never know you might have good time:-) We might have more in common than we think. Take risk - be part of the solution. Go In Peace Tracie
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0 #7 MishMich 2010-04-09 18:37
So, if we don't want labels, why do we need another label, SGD?
There's LGBT, TS, TG, TV, IS, GQ, GI(D), DSD, and now SGD.
SGD, a new box to shove all those that won't fit in the others.
Instructed to play nicely together in our own box.
So many days - ISD, IAD, TGDR, Pride, etc., etc. Now its SGD as well.
So it goes...
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0 #6 Tracie OKeefe 2010-04-09 17:04
Dearest Del

Most is a linguistic loading of majority but may is a linguistic loading of possibility only. In my 1999 book Sex, Gender & Sexuality: 21st. Transformations , I wrote when discussing gonadal intersex manifestation, “Infertility, however is high in this group but not necessarily conclusive.’ (p.32).

Curtis sent Katrina an email yesterday in which he said he was very happy with the article and fully supports April the 26 as the 1st International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day. I am thrilled that you too think it’s a great idea. Let’s not have a pissing in the snow competition. We oppress ourselves by our own division.

We would love it if you too were part of the day, because I love the socks off you, and know you could contribute so much. Let’s offer people who often feel outsiders because of the sex and/or gender diversity a welcoming and positive place to be once a year with their families friends and allies, no matter what their identity.

Come out of your darkroom and focus your lens. Record it as only you can. The Sydney event is already looking fabulous and a London/Sweden one would be richer with you.

Lots of love, Tracie :-)
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0 #5 del lagrace volcano 2010-04-09 02:57
Just because an article contains no 'ABSOLUTES' doesn't mean the information is does contain
is clear. I'm sure there are many people who discover later in life that they have an intersex variation but
to imply that this is how most people discover they are intersex is simply false AND misleading. You can deny
it all you like but written in this was it totally IMPLIES that intersex people are infertile. Please don't insult my or your readers intelligence! This way of conceptualizing intersex also excludes intersex people assigned
male who never expect to get pregnant! Adding a space after Buck's comment is confusing, an afterthought.

Regarding your intersex and trans status Tracie, apparently I did blink and miss it! I would actually really welcome a research
study to see just how large the overlap w/ trans and intersex actually IS. Many of the people I know working as intersex activists and artists also have at least partial identifications with transgender. My intention was not to challenge your authenticity but to understand your comment, which did come as a surprise! I'm sure I'm not the only person out there who blinked in 97!

Although I think that it's a great idea to have a day to raise awareness about Sex & Gender Diverse people, I have a problem when the information being circulated is misleading or false, as I feel it was here. This article first came to my attention on one of the lists I'm on with Curtis Hinkle where it seemed he was not particularly well informed about how his words were going to be used. Many on this list
had objections to SGD but it's up to Curtis and the others if they want to weigh in on the subject here.
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0 #4 Tracie OKeefe 2010-04-08 16:37
Please read the article carefully. IT CONTAINS NO ABSOLUTES. The word 'may' is a linguistics model operator of possibility not probability nor necessity. Many intersex people do discovery they are intersex when they cannot have children. That is a fact and I can tell you is correct because I see many of those people in my clinic. I have not said that all intersex people are infertile.

This is a small article and it does not seek to cover all the concomitants of sex and/or gender diversity. The article is inclusive of all sex and/or gender diverse people as a generalised invitation from those of us who wish to honour those people including ourselves in all our differences collectively. It is hands across the sea not conscription.

Those who want to come to the party are welcome. The offer will always be open each April 26th. Like the Scottish say, “We’ll leave the door open at the new year.” I came out as intersex in 97, you must have blinked Del, but I am also trans so I have a foot in both camps, and I won’t dishonour one for the other. I’ve never done that exclusivity thing – I was brought up a socialist and never saw the point.

I honour all people in their diversity whether it is sex, and/or gender, race, size, or nationality. We will have a lovely day and leave the door open. Happy Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day for the 26th.
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0 #3 MishMich 2010-04-08 08:08
I have to admit that the statement appeared to be part of Buck's comment - perhaps bringing that section to a complete end, so it is clear that is an editorial comment would make that clearer. Sure, some intersex people are this, that and the other - and some are not sex/gender diverse at all (in their own reckoning). Like Del, I fully support your doing this, and you identifying how you choose - but it means little to me, as I do not experience my sex/gender as diverse, it is simply different from a lot of other people's, and different from many intersex people's, and different from just about every trans person I've ever met. I celebrate my difference, but cannot identify with some new diversity box to toss all the folk who are too queer for LGBT, in the hope that we'll all play nicely together.
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0 #2 Katrina Fox 2010-04-08 07:45
Del, first of all that's not Buck's quote. If you look, you'll see his quote ended on the previous line 'Buck said'. However to make it even clearer, I'll add an extra line space.

Tracie wrote that bit. It doesn't imply that all intersex people are infertile. At a recent discussion I chaired an intersex person from OII told of the many different ways intersex people discover they are intersex. One of those is later in life when they find they are infertile but certainly not the only way and not for all intersex people and again this is not implied. And some people do have partial reproductive organs of both sexes.

The focus for this day is on inclusivity and sex and gender diversity, which is why Buck and Norrie as well as Curtis from OII are quoted - a trans man, an intersex person and an androgynous/neu ter person. Intersex groups and individuals have been saying for a long time that they do not feel included so Tracie has gone out of her way to make sure they are in this article. It happens that Norrie also mentions intersex people - that may be because they've requested to be heard and included, I don't know.

The day is meant to be a celebration of sex and/or gender diversity, where we put our differences aside and come together - not sure what is is so controversial about that.

As for Tracie's identity, I'll leave it for her to answer.
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0 #1 del lagrace volcano 2010-04-08 07:08
I have a few problems with this article that I need to raise.
First and most importantly I wonder why you have chosen to have Buck Angel, a transsexual man, be a spokesperson for intersex? His information is factually incorrect and misleading.
To quote Buckl: "There are literally hundreds of ways a person can be physically neither strictly male nor female." I wonder why the only example he gives is intersex? He goes on to say: "Many intersex people may not know they are intersex until they try to have children and find they are infertile." WRONG.
This implies that all intersex people are infertile which is untrue. INTERSEX DOES NOT EQUAL INFERTILITY although some intersex people are infertile others can and do reproduce. A significant amount of people discover they are intersex either at puberty (because they don't have periods) or even later in life by accessing their medical records. He also says: ?Other people may be born with reproductive organs of both sexes." WRONG AGAIN! There are no documented cases of any human being born with fully developed reproductive organs of both sexes, this is the myth of the hermaphrodite.
"Technically, intersex is defined as “congenital anomaly of the reproductive and sexual system.” Intersex people are born with external genitalia, internal reproductive organs, and/or an endocrine system that are different from most other people. About one in 2,000 babies are visibly intersexed, and many more aren’t detected until later in life. There is no single “intersex body”; it encompasses a wide variety of conditions that do not have anything in common, except that they are deemed “abnormal” by society.
What makes intersex people similar is their experiences of medicalization, not biology. Intersex is not an identity. While some intersex people do reclaim it as part of their identity, it is not a freely chosen category of gender—it can only be reclaimed. Most intersex people identify as men or women."
As there are so many ways of being sex and gender diverse I wonder at the emphasis and misinformation about intersex in this article.
I also want to know what it means for Tracie to say that she is "just your plain old intersex, transexed sort of girl." I know there's supposed to be something clever in this statement but what I object to is that once again intersex/transe x are conflated. If
this is Tracie's moment for 'coming out' as intersex then give me a bit more to go on than a flippant statement!
While I support people who want to gather under this banner I hope my choice NOT to be included as an SGD will also be respected.
Note to the Editor: Publishing opinions that are controversial is one thing. Letting people like Buck speak for intersex people and then getting it wrong is just bad journalistic practice!
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