OII Australia congratulates Human Rights Watch (HRW) on the release of the organization’s report on the situation of trans people in the Netherlands, Controlling Bodies, Denying Identities Human Rights Violations against Trans People in the Netherlands.
However, we are disappointed that the report does not fully include the situation of intersex people in the Netherlands – we were given to understand that this report would be the very first by HRW that would be intersex-inclusive. It is not, at least not in a way that indicates a sophisticated understanding of intersex.
Intersex people are people whose bodily characteristics (genetic, hormonal or anatomical) are such that their biological sex cannot readily be determined to be male or female. The phenomenon of intersexuality is different from the existence of transgender people (whose biological sex is unambiguous, but whose gender identity is different from their biological sex). However, where parents or others decide to raise an intersex child as belonging to a particular gender (or even subject the child to surgery to modify its body so as to correspond more closely to society’s ideas of male and female bodies), the intersex child may grow up to be transgender if its own gender identity does not correspond with the gender identity imposed on the child.
HRW, your statement in the extract above, published on page iii, that “the intersex child may grow up to be transgender if its own gender identity does not correspond with the gender identity imposed on the child” is incorrect. In our view, the original imposed assignment was wrong.