“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
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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