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“Are intersex people inherently part of the queer community?”

-Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Claudia Astorino as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Claudia Says:

Hey there, Anonymous! This is a great question, and one that’s important to address.  Intersex issues are starting to gain mainstream traction, and us intersex people have had a slightly raised profile in the last couple of years. People are interested in learning how our movement for rights and equality fits in with other movements at this time in history; for many folks, I think “including the I” in the LGBT acronym (i.e., LGBTI – or even better and more inclusive – LGBTQIA!) makes intuitive sense, while others can just as easily see intersex issues as distinct from those of L, G, B, and/or T folks.

So whadda we do about this? Luckily, I have no shortage of opinions on this (read:  basically any) topic! Before we get started, since this question focuses on both intersex peeps and Fabulous Queer Stuff, I’ve got rainbows on my mind. If it’s all right with you, Anonymous, I’m gonna call ya RAINBOW BRITE! (I mean– I am an 80’s kid, after all.  Also PRIDE is coming up, and I’m anticipating all those lovely rainbows already! RELATED: If you’re gonna be around for the NYC Dyke March on June 27th, look for the lady with the loudest mouth in the whole march proudly holding up an “Intersex Dyke” sign. If you’re not shy, say hi!  *waves*)

So, RAINBOW BRITE– people have questioned whether intersex issues really “fit” into the LGBT acronym or not. The LGBT acronym represents those with sexual orientations and gender identities outside the normative party line. And intersex isn’t a sexual orientation or a gender identity– it’s a bodily way of being. (Things can get a bit tricky here– some intersex people might identify their gender identity as “intersex,” and we need to allow intersex people– like all people– the room to identify however is authentic. Strictly speaking, however, intersex is about biology.)

While on the face of it, this might seem like a clear reason to exclude intersex people, it’s important to note that this same “one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other” argument was made when considering whether the “T” should be added to the LGB acronym.  Some folks argued that since being trans* wasn’t a sexual orientation, including trans* people in LGB visibility and fight for equality wouldn’t be a good “fit.” People eventually recognized including the “T” made sense since trans* people were fighting for the same basic things as LGB people– to be accepted, respected, and protected for having identities that are perceived as outside the norm.

Similarly, although intersex is about bodies, intersex people are fighting to be accepted, respected, and protected for being perceived as outside the norm. Since issues of bodily diversity are also often tied up in misunderstandings about how sex, gender, and sexual orientation fit together– hence, why so many people still advocate for “fixing” intersex people to make us “normal,” YUCK, NOPE, GO FISH!– including intersex people in LGBT issues makes a lot of sense.

Many intersex people support adding the “I” and the LGBTQIA acronym, but some have been hesitant to support this inclusion because they don’t feel an affinity with the queer community. This stems (at least in part) from the perception that intersex people have to be L, G, B, or T in addition to being intersex for inclusion to make sense. But this doesn’t have to be the case! As lovely and fantastic as us intersex queers are (*buffs nails on shirt, blows on nails, winks*), being queer isn’t required for intersex inclusion to benefit us. Intersex folks, queer or not, can benefit from inclusion in the fight for equality and acceptance that the LGBT movement is working to achieve. Intersex folks that are really, REALLY against queer inclusion? Might want to sit down and consider whether they think it actually doesn’t make sense to add the “I,” or if they actually have some queerphobia to work through.

Well, RAINBOW BRITE, I hope that helps clear some things up! If you’re interested in reading more about why intersex inclusion is so important, check out this piece I wrote for Autostraddle, as well as a call to action for LGBT organizations to officially update their org’s name to LGBTI if they truly support intersex-inclusion! (Lip service <<< action, ya’ll)




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10 thoughts on “Are Intersex People Inherently Queer?

  1. god this is so wrong. first off there is no q***r community. queer is a SLUR that a large percentage of lgbt do not want to reclaim and its not a term you can use on people. secondly intersex people are not inherently lgbt. there is no i because actual intersex people have asked time and time again not to be included in the community. they feel their issues ARE different from our, and in addition you can get cishet intersex people and cishets arent lgbt. you can look it up if you want to know more but no being intersex doesn’t make you lgbt and by saying the opposite ignores the wishes of actual intersex people

    1. Arguing that queer is a slur is like arguing gay is a slur. Why, Gay is constantly used in a negative way to put people down. There is legislation currently being put forward to ban the words gay, lesbian, homosexual and trans as its seen as hate speech because large percentage of same sex attracted people say the words are mostly used to insult people or to call something “stupid” or “lame” or a total waste of time. Banning words is ridiculous.

      Also more and more young same sex attracted people use the word queer to describe themselves. there is nothing wrong with the word queer.

    2. There is a queer community. To many older LGBT people, they took part in the queer movement. Queer is a slur that has been reclaimed by a large portion of the LGBT community, and you cannot shame someone for feeling it’s closest to their identity. It’s perfectly reasonable to be uncomfortable with it and request not be called it, and people need to respect your discomfort, but don’t take queer away from the people who fought for it.

    3. Your words ring true here- “god[,] this is so wrong.”

      I think the “queer” issue is largely a generational one- younger generations of LGBTQA+ people really HAVE reclaimed the word. I’ve used it countless times to describe myself, and I probably use it at LEAST once a day just in everyday conversation. That said, there’s a difference between my saying “I’m a queer woman” and somebody shouting the word ‘queer’ at me. Same goes for ‘dyke’, or even ‘gay.’ I’m allowed to call myself as I please, and I’m allowed to talk about my community with language that I feel comfortable with. THAT SAID, you, of course, are allowed to express your opinion, and request not to be called such.

      Regarding your second point, I think that it’s important to remember that just like every other group of people, intersex people can disagree with one another. The author of this text IS intersex, so to say that isn’t thinking about how intersex people feel is absurd. Others may disagree with her, but just like you or I, she is 100% entitled to her opinion. If she chooses to associate with the LGBTQA+ community as an intersex person, that is her choice. If others don’t, then that’s there’s.

  2. I personally would not include them in this community for their own comfort. Since intersex and ace people, for that matter, are a bit different than LGBTQ people in how their sexuality is defined, I think it should be more fluid than just grouping them in. For example, intersex and asexual Christians may feel uncomfortable being a part of the LGBTQ movement. If they want to be a part of this group, then fine. But I really think it is ultimately their decision.

    1. I would argue that the majority of ace people that I have met, as well as myself, are 100% for the A being included in the anacronym! The only problem really is that many people think that the A is for Ally, which it is absolutely not.

    2. I would argue that the majority of ace people that I have met, as well as myself, are 100% for the A being included in the anacronym! The only problem really is that many people think that the A is for Ally, which it is absolutely not.

  3. The main problem I have with including intersex is that it politicizes the intersex issue and actually distracts from the biological aspect of intersex. Including intersex takes away from proper intersex awareness because of queerphobia. People start debating and arguing the existence of intersex because they confuse it with trans and you have people using words like intersexual. By lumping it together with the queer rainbow, it makes it seem like a gender identity or sexual preference. It ultimately does more harm than good.

  4. I HIGHLY disagree, I am intersex and Intersexuality is the ONLY genuinely biological phenomena. I DO NOT and WOULD NEVER like to be associated with the LGBTQA community (no offense to anyone but respect me decision). It is beyond me why they keep forcing the “I” in things! You say that Intersex is a way of life??! What nonsense!? Intersex or commonly known as (Hermaphrodism) is someone who biologically, again BIOLOGICALLY has both sexes represented within their anatomy. This isn’t some game where if you “feel” to be intersex you are! It is NOT a gender identity, it is an actual medical phenomena! So please stop trying to tie us in with this nonsense. For the Intersex people who happen to be Gay, Bi, Queer, they can include themselves under the listed letters. There are some Intersex people who have to transition to their preferred gender and will fall under Trans, but that in no way allows for us to be listed within the community. And I am fed up of people actually approaching me and forcing me to be a part of things because of the “I” being there. It needs to stop!

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