In 1996, the first public demonstration by intersex people in North America took place on 26 October, forever marking the date as Intersex Awareness Day.
This year, the European Commission shared a video about Monika Pisankaneva a diversity advocate, and her partner Pol Naidenov, an intersex person.
The pair work together to spread awareness of what it means to be intersex. They battle the prejudices and misinformation surrounding the societal norms that intersex people face daily.
When someone is intersex, it means they don’t fit into the societal definition for male or female.
Intersex is an umbrella term which encompasses a variety of traits which may distinguish someone as intersex.
An intersex person may have variations in their chromosomes, sex hormones levels, in genital formation or other differentiations from average sexual development.
One of the major problems facing intersex people from birth, is unnecessary ‘normalising’ surgery used to modify their bodies to conform to one or other socially mandated sexes.
These surgeries are not usually needed for medical purposes, and in fact often leave the child permanently damaged.
Some side effects of the surgery include infertility, loss of sexual sensation, and mental trauma as well.
Intersex people account for nearly 2% of the global population which equates to about one out of every fifty people.
Despite this, intersex people are an often-overlooked minority, facing discrimination and damaging social repercussions.
Growing up in Bulgaria, Pol was born with Morris Syndrome, which means, in his words, “that you have someone who is designed to be male, but has developed externally as female.”
“I face strange reactions, misgendering, and verbal abuse because my body looks different.”
“And very often people call intersex people hermaphrodites, which is completely wrong, not just wrong but it is also abusive.”
According to Monika, “Making someone ‘normal’ in terms of making someone fit into the norm of male or female is against human rights.”
“We should let intersex people decide who they want to be. We should let intersex children grow as they are.”
Pol and Monika stress the importance of diversity, and encourage others to help them spread the importance of intersex awareness.
Words Kevin Kissane