From Pakistan to the USA and the International Olympics Committee, Intersex People are Treated as Less or Other than Human

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Bhakti Ananda Goswami, board member, OII USA

Date first published:

March 10, 2010


This article represents the views of its author and does not represent Organisation Intersex International policy nor that of its affiliates. The views of the author may well have changed since this article was written.

“Some sociologists and legal experts have suggested that eligibility for new ID cards or other benefits might require a physical exam and test to see how claimants urinate.”

THIS ‘suggestion’ by “sociologists and legal experts” is appalling in its anti-scientific ignorance. Objective scientists and biologists know that human beings cannot be divided into any discrete/distinct category of male or female based upon how they urinate, or anything else! Humans are generally, but not exclusively, sex-dimorphic or strictly sex-differentiated as male or female. Thus, realistically/scientifically speaking, there is no way to create some artificial system to categorize them as strictly male or female.

The news article quoted above addresses some of the problems faced by intersex people in Pakistan, who have a feminine gender identity and expression.

Pointless Distinctions

ALTHOUGH the article makes a distinction between “a born eunuch or hermaphrodite” and the supposedly other people who have traditionally been accepted as part of the Hijra communities, purely based on the biological evidence I consider all such people to be intersex.

In all other so-called sex-dimorphic social species with a gendered ‘language’ of sex-signaling, ‘male to female’ cross-gendered behavior is without question associated with some real-world physical/biological process of feminization. Hence no scientist/biologist studying such sex differentiation related animal behavior will ever consider it to be ‘psychological’ or ‘satanic’. And for decades the creatures exhibiting such behavior have been called ‘intersexed’ or ‘sex-reversed’ in behavior by the scientists studying them.

This observation by objective scientists has carried no moral value-judgment on the creatures observed.

Throwing out Scientific Objectivity

HOWEVER, when it is human cross-sexed behavior at issue, tragically scientific objectivity has been almost entirely left-out of the social discourse, and this has resulted in the continued inhuman treatment and even demonization and murder of such people today.

Please consider that even in nations and societies that generally do not approve of abortion, if a condition of intersex is detected in an infant who is still in utero, this is most often counseled as a reason to abort the child.

So, although we are in a new age of science and technology, socially most of humanity is still living in an age of ignorance, superstition and fear in its perception and treatment of people who are physically or behaviorally intersex or sex-reversed. It is not just the poor uneducated Hijras in India and Pakistan and so on who are unemployable outcasts being forced into prostitution for survival. Even high-achieving intersex people in developed countries like the USA have to try to hide their ‘secret’, or constantly fight the ignorance, prejudice and outright violent hatefulness that they encounter, usually from the ‘religious right’.

Issues of Legal Identity

TODAY there are serious problems facing intersex people involving local, national and international identification and travel law, and the rules of competitive sports, such as in the Olympics. To learn about the sex-testing human rights issues in the Olympics, please see the Organization Intersex International (OII) petition.

The OII is the world’s leading international and multilingual association of intersex people. I am on the USA OII Board of Directors.

My body looked normally female at birth, but I never had a female gender identity, and eventually my own high level of androgen production virilized my body to the point that, as a young adult with a full beard, I could no longer even publicly ‘pass’ as a female any more.

As I had always considered myself to be male, finally being legally sex re-assigned to male was a great relief to me. That was more than 35 years ago, but now, thanks to the insane and anti-scientific homophobic elements of the USA Real ID Act, there is a high likelihood that when I must renew my driver’s license in 2011, my state, in order to comply with the Real ID Act, will, using my original birth certificate, put “female” on my driver’s license!

After more than 40 years of living as a man, this will certainly be a problem for me, but at least as a masculine-looking person I will probably not face some kind of sexual harassment or assault because of it.

However I am concerned for the safety and social welfare of the many dear female-gendered intersex-bodied souls, living as women, who will be forced to carry ‘REAL ID’ that says that they are male.

This is NOT about sexual orientation, or who someone is sexually attracted to. It is not about who a person ‘loves’, it is about who a person IS. It is about the basic human right of BEING. And, as a Christian I must accept the Gospel message that Jesus loves ALL of us JUST AS WE ARE, and that He gave Himself for us, everyone of us, regardless of our race/nation, social status or sex.

Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free …

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. …

Colossians 3:11: Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or …

In him there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free person. Instead, the Messiah is all and in all. …

Aborting the ‘Defective’

ARE you a parent? Do you hope to be one? If you learned that your unborn baby was intersex or would grow up to be ‘trans-gendered’, transsexual, homosexual or lesbian, would you consider an abortion? Do you think that it is ok to routinely abort sexually different infants, as so ‘defective’ that they have no right to live?

There are hundreds of millions of intersex people in the world, not including homosexuals, transsexuals and transgendered people. But, the rest of the human race has so generally feared and despised them that they have everywhere been forced to either live in denial of their own existence, or live in some outcast and oppressed subculture. Homophobia is a major social force compelling the religious demonization and maltreatment of these dear souls, for whom God died.

No one can kill God, but God can experience mortality and even death if He chooses to. Why would God choose to offer Himself as a redeeming sacrifice for ‘eunuchs and barren women’, if He did not desire their salvation? If the Bible itself testifies that such people are worthy of God’s Mercy in Christ, then how can the rest of humanity reject them as unworthy of mere human love and social inclusion?

Education Please

PLEASE become educated about the existence of intersex people, and the human rights problems facing them.

Please inform others, and pressure your governments to provide appropriate ID laws for intersex people, and legal protection for them, and all of their basic human rights.