Oklahoma City Council passes resolution recognizing Intersex Awareness Day

Annually, Intersex Awareness Day is recognized on October 26. This year, the Oklahoma City Council officially recognized Intersex Awareness Day for the first time in the city’s history.

The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Councilpersons Hamon and Cooper and put forth by intersex activists Elena Hight, Fallon Magnus, and Bria Brown-King, passed in a narrow four-to-three vote.

Intersex Awareness Day is a day in honor of the first public protest outside the American Academy of Pediatrics. The courageous intersex activists who led that protest were calling for the end to all medically unnecessary and non-consensual surgeries performed on intersex youth, surgeries that continue to happen on intersex children today.

Intersex refers to individuals born with variations in their physical sex characteristics, including differences in genital anatomy, internal reproductive organs, chromosomes, or hormonal variations.

There are over thirty intersex variations, and it is estimated that up to 1.7 percent of people are born with intersex traits, about the same number of people born with red hair. If we apply that percentage to Oklahoma’s population, there are as many as 67,269 intersex people in the state. A population that is bigger than Stillwater or Moore. However, there are only a handful of intersex individuals in the state who are openly talking about their experiences. This is not an accident.

Intersex people often face decades of shame, silence, and isolation. Decades where they are sometimes lied to about their body and decades when they are told that they will never meet someone like them.

Many intersex children, teens, and young adults are also forced to undergo surgeries and other medical interventions on their otherwise healthy bodies in an attempt to make those bodies conform to normative ideas of what men and women “should be.”

These surgeries often happen without the fully informed consent of intersex individuals, and many parents claim that they are given neither full information as to the need for and effects of these surgeries nor access to support groups and counseling, both of which are necessary to make such a life-altering decision for their child.

These surgeries can have a lifelong negative impact on intersex individuals’ physical and mental well-being. Not only do these surgeries lead to years of pain and sometimes multiple revision surgeries, but they also cause intersex youth to feel as if their bodies are not acceptable and loveable just as they are.

Across the globe, many public health and human rights leaders and organizations-- including the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the World Health Organization, Physicians for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch—have called for an end to surgeries on intersex individuals. Even the U.S. Department of State has said that these interventions “jeopardize [intersex individuals’] physical integrity and ability to live freely.”

The intersex community is full of artists, writers, lawyers, doctors, teachers. People from every walk of life. People who have chosen to confront the stigma and silence so that other intersex kids will not have to feel alone or ashamed.

Intersex Awareness Day honors not only those first intersex activists, but it also honors all intersex people, open or not, who continue to act as valuable members of the Oklahoma City community. Community members that deserve to feel seen, heard, and embraced.

Everyone is invited to the online event to celebrate. Simply click this link https://fb.me/e/4nCSDGFA4 to join us on October 26 at 6 p.m.