Hopefully, most of you will understand that intersex = innate variations of sex characteristics.
For those who are new or whose memory is fading – it’s when some people have atypical sex chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs or external genitalia.
Intersex is not a gender, sex or identity – it’s an umbrella term used to give community to about 1.7% of the population.
Setting the scene is most important.
As is language.
Language can only be used if it is known. Language is a foundation for understanding others in our sphere, our world. Meaning from language can be exacting or ambiguous, threatening or calming, harmful or helpful.
Historically, language has been used in this population, this cohort to isolate and divide, to traumatize and humiliate, to make them less. I will not verbalise these words here, today. These words are easily found in medical textbooks and ignorant company.
Today, I would like to introduce you the reader to strategies that supports and uplifts people with innate variations of sex characteristics, in three easy to remember points:
- Use the language that person uses themselves. Do not correct them, this is their truth. Some people have not been introduced to other ideas or concepts.
- Using the words “innate variations of sex characteristics” if conversing, until their language choices are known. Never ask for their diagnosis – this is personal and when known gives you private insight to their trauma.
- If their language choice is one that is not spoken here, it is because they may have reclaimed the words or because they have known no other. Respect the choice, do not repeat the words, that is not your word to use.
We all live our realities that may look similar from the outside, but are not. Language in the intersex world can give community or take it away. Your choices in the words you use can offer allyship or increase isolation and despair.
Be wise reader, be wise.