1st International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day: 26 April

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(via The Scavenger)

The first International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day has been declared 26 April and will be an awareness day and celebration of the existence or sex and/or gender diverse people, writes Tracie O’Keefe.

Sex and/or gender diverse people are encouraged to have picnics, tea parties, festivals or gatherings in their part of the world, inviting their family, friends and allies to join them.

We will be visible in all our sex and/or gender variations. It is for all intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, androgynous, without sex and gender identity, cross-dressers, sex and gender fluid, transqueers, genderqueers, etc.

It is a day to have a picnic, tea party, gathering or festival wherever you are. In my 1999 book Sex Gender and Sexuality: 21st Century Transformations my research calculated that at least 1% of the world’s population is sex and/or gender diverse.

OK – so many of us who are sex and/or gender diverse are scary to the masses because we are out there being visible, but the majority are stealth, invisible and often live with shame thrust upon them by ignorance or trying to evade an over-controlling medicalisation of their identities and prejudice.

When I was 15, Kevin B, the boy I grew up next door to, told me his mother expressly did not want him speaking to me because she was afraid I was dangerous.

I did have very high hair, one-foot high platforms and more make-up and fashion accessories than most department stores, plus a boyfriend on one arm, girlfriend on the other and was registered at school as a boy – admittedly in 1970 that was probably a bit frightening to the public. I was never one for half measures.

Nowadays I’m more likely to shop in K-Mart and be found peering through a microscope. I don’t stick out in crowd (apart from my red hennaed hair), so I’m just your plain old intersex, transexed sort of girl. But the law still prevents me from having all the same rights as someone who was registered as their lived sex at birth.

Many of us who are sex and/or gender diverse are still a complete mystery to the public because we are not stereotypically male or female genetically, physically, psychologically or socially and, more often than not, legally.

Schools only tend to teach what Janet and John did up the hill when they went for a pale of water. Even biology professors at university struggle with the concept that sex is not just a binary lottery but a roulette wheel of diversity. Many social sciences gender studies professionals also have little understanding of the difference between sex and gender.

Many of us don’t fit into the pure male, female, transgender or transsexual boxes that society, clinicians, researchers, and even many so-called gender liberationists are trying to force us into.

We won’t be numbered, categorised, commoditised, and managed. We won’t be mugged of our differences and we don’t want to be pegged in a sex and gender class system that depicts us as mistakes and lesser human beings with lesser civil rights. We may even be actually embracing some of our differences, or at the very least not be ashamed of them.

Buck Angel, FTM porn star

“I am a man who lives life on his own terms,” world-famous FTM porn star Buck Angel told The Scavenger. “I was born female but was not ever able to feel comfortable in my body so I changed that and now live as a man.

“My work in the education, advocacy and the adult entertainment field has earned me recognition all over the world and has helped to show people that it is important to be yourself and that societies rules are not always the right way to live. Be free with your body and enjoy life. 

“International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day is a very important day for everyone who feels like they do not fit into the box that society has made for us. It is time to show the world we are proud of who we are, I believe that there is power in numbers and the more people that support causes like this and get the message out there the more the world will be and amazing place to live,” Buck said.

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There are literally hundreds of ways a person can be physically neither strictly male nor female. Many intersex people may not know they are intersex until they try to have children and find they are infertile.

Other people may be born with reproductive organs of both sexes. Many intersex people have had those facts hidden from them by parents and doctors and had involuntary surgery performed on them as children without their knowledge.

Curtis Hinkle, Organisation Intersex International (OII)

“I am an activist and translator living in South Carolina, USA,” said founder of Organisation Intersex International Curtis Hinkle. “I was born intersex, brought up initially as a girl and rejected that assignment with my grandmother's approval at an early age and lived as a boy.  I studied at the Université de Montpellier, France, where I took my degree in Linguistics. 

“I founded OII in 2003 in order to create a forum for intersex people to speak for themselves with the control of experts and other who often speak for us. It was originally a French-speaking organisation. However, with the change in terminology in which the medical establishment replaced ‘intersex’ with the term ‘DSD’ (Disorders of Sex Development), more and more people from around the world joined OII. 

“We are dedicated to resisting the medical model and non-consensual medical treatment of intersex people. We promote a holistic human rights and person-centred model. We regularly reach across cultural and language barriers to support and improve the lives of intersex individuals on six continents. 

“I was the first intersex person to make a complaint to the EEOC, a federal agency in the US because of discrimination by my employer and the agency accepted my complaint under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). 

“After finding out that I had no protection against sexual harassment or discrimination because my sex was ‘indeterminate’ and only males and females were protected according to the investigators from the EEOC, I became an intersex activist. 

“I maintain that I have no disability and feel that rather than having my charge accepted as such, it should have been accepted for what it was: sexual discrimination and harassment. My main goal is that as many intersex voices as possible, regardless of identity, country or language be heard. 

“I am proud to be part of the International Sex and/or Gender Diverse Day celebration. I fully support diversity and inclusion,” said Curtis. 

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Many poorly trained medical professionals, psychologists and health professionals are still trying to fit sex and gender variant people in into 1960’s transsexual models and dictating identities to them, as opposed to listening to the person. 

‘Transgender’, the new medical buzzword is also carelessly used to try and describe those who don’t fit into the predetermined pathological models. 

Norrie (aka Norrie May-Welby)

“I was diagnosed transsexual in 1985 aged 23, and had genital realignment surgery in 1989, but quickly realised this did not mean I was seen by everyone else as a woman, and I began to question the assumptions inherent in a binary-gendered world view,” said Scottish-born, Australian-based Norrie, who hit the global media headlines recently after being granted – then stripped of – a ‘sex not specified’ recognised details certificate.

“Reading feminist literature helped me break sex stereotypes and reclaim the parts that are labelled unladylike, and personal development course helped me face myself and the world with honesty about my gender and sex. I became more comfortable with seeing androgynous people and historical eunuchs as my peers and role models rather than aspiring to be like a stereotypical Barbie doll.

“I went off hormones a couple of years after my balls were removed in the genital realignment surgery, and am very comfortable having an androgynous body and an androgynous identification.

“It bugged me every time I had to nominate which inappropriate sex was appropriate, and everything from government forms to internet news comments sites want to know whether one is male or female before one can proceed further.

“I was outraged to learn of how babies with various intersex conditions are operated on so that paperwork can be completed, their birth right hacked away so the birth can be registered as a male or as a female.

Sex and Gender Education (SAGE (Australia) has been lobbying for all people to have the right to appropriate identification recognised in practice, whether they are male or female or both or neither or just would rather not be labelled in those terms.

“When told that the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM) would certify me as sex not specified if I produced medical certification to that effect, I was very happy to apply for this, and overjoyed to receive the certification with the cover letter stating it was approved and finalised.

“As you may be aware, the story went round the world, then the registrar phoned to say he'd made a mistake, and the story went round the world again. There's a Russian androgyne, anatomically just like me, coming out of the closet with full frontal photo spreads, and activists in Barcelona lobbying to be free of inappropriate sex labelling.

“No matter what the NSW Registrar of BDM says about my identity, I am now known to the entire news reading world as the person recognised as neither a man nor woman The idea of being a socially acceptable human without having to have a fixed label of sex has gained unstoppable momentum.

“The 26 April can be a day to acknowledge our sex and/or gender diversity and let it out the closet, no matter who or what we are,” said Norrie. 

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Labels can be a class system if you label without permission, particularly when someone does not see themselves as that identity. 

Sure we all want to tell people the nearest kind of estimation of what we are all about but when others try to force labels on us, without our permission, it is abuse. 

While this day is for all sex and/or gender diverse people all over the world, perhaps like the Still Fierce: Sydney Sex and Gender Diverse Collective you can also declare it ‘No Labels Day’ too, where we declassify our differences within sex and gender subcultures and reclassify ourselves as simply human beings with difference. 

Happy Sex And/or Gender Diversity Day for April 26! 

Join the Facebook group for the 1st International Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day.

Join the Facebook group for Sydney event. 

If you’re organising something in your town or city, email The Scavenger’s editor (click contact link) with details and we’ll put a link to it here. 

Tracie O’Keefe is the spokesperson for Sex and Gender Education (SAGE Australia) and the author/editor of several book and papers on sex and gender diversity, the latest being Trans People in Love.

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