The group has come together to launch a campaign, calling for the Government to urgently review the way intersex people are treated. Following on from Germany’s decision to allow newborn babies to be registered as neither male nor female, their recommendations include the option to leave the sex on British birth certificates blank, measures to protect babies or young people from irreversible and non-consensual treatment and surgery, better emotional support and increased education.
I support intersex activists who want to speak in their own voice. I’ve been critical in the past about the way that arguments about intersexuality are deployed in the service of destabilising sex binaries without the presence of intersex people’s voices. This is similar to my criticisms of cis deployment of trans people to (attempt to) destabilise gender binaries without our consent.
Nontheless I don’t suggest a hierarchy of oppression in which trans concerns should be subordinate to intersex concerns, rather a mutual respect, commitment to non-appropriation and awareness of the possibility of coalition politics between intersex and trans people (noting that many people may be part of both groups!).
Given that, I was surprised in this entire article to see precisely zero references to trans people, despite broad possible common ground. It may be a result of how the activists’ voices were shaped by media, but if any of the initiative for erasing connections with trans people came from the activists concerned, I think it’s a missed opportunity.
Some of the grounds for coalition politics raised in this article include:
Born into a world that insists on dividing people into two sexes, they did not always know how they fitted in.
The women argue that their very existence has been “eradicated” by British society.
measures to protect babies or young people from irreversible and non-consensual treatment and surgery (for non-intersex trans people we could say forced endogenous hormone treatment - i.e. refusal to offer us blockers)
better emotional support
Most intelligent human beings would be completely surprised and utterly dismayed at the civil inequality and human rights abuses
struggling to correct the sex marked on their birth certificates
The main challenges for families and kids is the social context in which we live with these conditions
… and more.
I understand a possible intent not to be subsumed under trans politics, but I’ve seen exactly the same thing from cis women with PCOS. I’m not suggesting intersex and PCOS situations are similar, but that the engagement with trans concerns has been similar to that resultant in this article - i.e. not.
None of us are the embarrassing runts of each other’s litters. We are all valuable, we all matter, and we all have a lot to gain from respectful alliances in which we neither appropriate from each others’ struggles, erase differences or accept outcomes which fail to raise us all up.