Inclusion des Intersexués

Pourquoi avons-nous besoin d’inclusion?

Pendant très longtemps, notre culture a donné plus de droits à un groupe de personnes qu’à un autre groupe, basé uniquement sur l’apparence de leurs organes génitaux à la naissance. Nous avons travaillé en tant que culture pour changer cela.

Mais les intersexués – ceux dont les organes génitaux ou d’autres marqueurs du sexe sont mélangés – n’ont reçu aucune acceptation, droits ou protection.

Pour obtenir la citoyenneté, faire enregistrer une naissance, obtenir une carte de santé ou même vous inscrire pour participer à n’importe quel aspect de notre culture, on se demande toujours si l’on est «homme» ou «femme» – si c’est un choix réaliste, ou pas.

Il n’y a aucune reconnaissance du fait que ce n’est pas si simple – que les caractéristiques sexuelles humaines se chevauchent, et qu’il n’y a peut-être pas de «pur mâle» ou de «pure femelle» sur cette Terre – du moins pas que nous serons jamais capable de prouver. Il n’y a aucune reconnaissance que la forme de ses organes génitaux est sans rapport avec son humanité fondamentale.

Le modèle actuel de notre culture pour définir le sexe humain est une manière très préjudiciable et discriminatoire d’observer une variation naturelle de la forme – parce qu’elle ne permet tout simplement pas de faire place à la réalité des différences intersexuelles. Il ne reconnaît pas non plus que n’importe qui pourrait être intersexué.

L’idée que les gens doivent être séparés en deux classes physiques qui ne se chevauchent pas est une fiction biologique et une fixation culturelle toxique. Le droit d’exister et de revendiquer la vérité de sa réalité ne devrait pas être soumis à des préférences et à des attentes purement culturelles. Être humilié ou mutilé hors de l’existence est un fardeau lourd et gravement limitatif à supporter. C’est aussi totalement inutile.

Imaginez l’impact que cela peut avoir de ne pas être en mesure de dire la vérité sur qui vous êtes, d’être obligé de mentir sur votre sexe, d’être légalement tenu de vous définir d’une manière qui invalide la vérité de votre réalité physique, peut-être seulement reconnaître la moitié de votre être.

Les droits d’intersexualité sont des droits de l’homme

Nous disons qu’il est temps d’inclure – et d’accueillir – ces variations de la forme sexuelle dans notre conscience culturelle. Nous disons qu’il est temps d’arrêter la discrimination systémique qui accompagne un tel refus de reconnaître que ces différences existent et qu’elles sont normales, sinon culturellement normatives.

Les droits d’intersexualité sont des droits humains. C’est le droit de tout être humain d’être traité et reconnu comme tel, sans avoir à se conformer à une fiction juridique, médicale et culturelle que le sexe est binaire. C’est le droit de tout être humain à être traité avec dignité et respect, reconnu et validé, sans contrainte pour se conformer à l’idéal culturel, à la fiction, au sexe binaire.

Nous avons tous le droit d’être ici. Nous avons tous le droit d’être reconnus en tant qu’êtres humains. Nous avons tous le droit de nous sentir en sécurité dans nos propres peaux, de nous sentir acceptés tels que nous sommes, sans avoir besoin d’être physiquement modifiés avant de pouvoir obtenir le statut d’être humain, notre dignité humaine ou nos droits humains. Même l’intersexué.

Comment pouvons-nous tous être inclusifs

Lorsque nous annonçons la forme des organes génitaux d’un bébé à la naissance, nous annonçons le sexe social de l’enfant, ce qui fournit un modèle d’attentes quant à la façon dont cet enfant s’engagera dans le monde et comment cet enfant devrait être traité maîtriser ces attentes.

Que faire si les organes génitaux de l’enfant ne sont pas stéréotypés masculins ou féminins? Ensuite, nous n’avons pas cette information culturelle sténographique. Comment sommes-nous censés savoir comment élever un enfant, si nous ne savons pas à quelle catégorie d’humains ils appartiennent?

Nous disons qu’il est peut-être temps que nous arrêtions de travailler si fort sur l’inculturation de nos enfants pour croire qu’il n’y a que deux façons de marcher dans la vie, clairement éclairées par la forme des organes génitaux, et qu’il faut choisir l’un ou l’autre.

Le problème est que nos stéréotypes et nos attentes ne sont pas seulement descriptifs. Ils sont proscriptifs, limitant certains comportements et exagérant les autres.

Nous pensons que de telles désignations culturelles limitent profondément en termes de vraies possibilités de l’expérience humaine – qui pourrait vraiment être vécue comme l’un ou l’autre, ou comme aucun des deux sexes sociaux mandatés par la culture.

Nous savons que l’idée selon laquelle le sexe est strictement ou toujours binaire est une construction culturelle qui n’est pas soutenue par des observations scientifiques de la réalité physique objective. Si l’idée du sexe binaire est culturellement construite, alors nos idées sur la façon dont les sexes sont supposés être différents les uns des autres sont également culturellement construites, policées et renforcées.

Vraiment, l’idéal du sexe binaire strict est un héritage culturel des religions levantines qui sont au cœur de notre système juridique, et qui forment encore les religions prédominantes de notre culture. Continuer de faire respecter ces croyances culturelles et religieuses sur le sexe humain, qui sont en contradiction avec la science établie, n’est pas approprié dans une culture diversifiée, démocratique et rationnelle.

Nous disons qu’il est temps pour notre culture de reconnaître le fait que les intersexués existent, et que nous avons toujours existé. Nous disons qu’il est temps que les intersexués soient réintégrés dans la famille de l’humanité.

Commençons par reconnaître et accepter le fait que l’un d’entre nous – ou peut-être même nous tous – pourrait être intersexué. Après tout, nous commençons tous dans l’utérus comme intersexués. Nous avons tous en nous des potentialités masculines et féminines.

Abolir la case à cocher

Chaque fois que nous faisons une supposition sur quel pronom genré à utiliser, ou demandez à quelqu’un d’inscrire son sexe comme «M» ou «F» sur une case à cocher, nous participons à la programmation culturelle pour accepter seulement ces deux choix, et invalider tous les autres possibilités.

Beaucoup de personnes intersexuées font l’expérience de leur propre sexe et de leur sexe comme étant binaires – hommes ou femmes. Mais ce n’est pas le cas pour tous. Pourquoi une personne devrait-elle être obligée de faire un choix sur les deux sexes culturellement reconnus, si leur réalité est qu’elles sont les deux? Nous disons que personne ne devrait être forcé ou entraîné à croire qu’ils doivent être binaires, qu’ils doivent faire un choix entre deux fictions culturelles, légalement approuvées, d’être un homme ou une femme.

Les intersexués sont continuellement rappelés que, dans cette culture, leur réalité est invalide. anormal et invisible – ou du moins, une partie d’entre eux est et doit le rester. Beaucoup de personnes intersexuées rapportent que cette assignation présomptive et limitative du sexe et du genre est une source permanente de traumatisme.

Nous voulons que les personnes intersexuées puissent simplement vivre avec intégrité et authenticité, avoir le courage d’être fidèles à elles-mêmes et ne pas avoir besoin de se conformer à une histoire culturelle qui ne les inclut pas.

Mais pas seulement l’intersexué. Nous devrions tous être autorisés à dire notre vérité sur notre propre expérience de vivre dans notre propre corps, d’honorer nos propres orientations sexuelles.

Many intersex people have internalized the shame and secrecy they grew up with about their condition, and are not willing to disclose their difference, irksome or injurious though it may be to be constantly invalidated by other people’s presumptions.

We think that maybe what a person’s genitals look like, or their gender(s) is really nobody else’s business, unless that information is offered or necessary.

The omnipresent tickbox, asking which binary camp one belongs to every time one tries to take part in society is an invasion of privacy. It seems to deliberately exclude the intersexed, the genderfluid and the transitioning, for whom such a question does not make sense.

If someone’s sex is non-binary, or if their general phenotype or assigned sex doesn’t match their gender, they are already being constantly invalidated, made to feel that a critical part of their own essential being, their very identity, is unacceptable or unthinkable, and must be suppressed, hidden or ignored – or be ready to fight about it every time they try to engage in their own culture.

A good place to start is by witnessing one’s own, and our culture’s assumptions about sex. Becoming aware of how and when we police and enforce our cultural beliefs about binary sex is the first step to changing them.

Reflect on the stereotypes and assumptions you hold, and notice how often you make automatic sex-based assumptions about someone based on their appearance or their name. Notice what happens when you are faced with a name that is not clearly male or female. Do you panic, not knowing how to address them, not having a ‘male’ or ‘female’ archetype to envision them as conforming to?

Keep in mind that you can’t necessarily tell what sexes or genders someone is ‘by looking,’ either at their general appearance, or at what’s in their pants. Remember that anyone could be intersex. Remember that the idea of dyadic sex is an oversimplified version of a diverse and complex reality. Remember that our binary ideas of social sex are a shortcut and a convenience, a way of quickly sorting people into categories based on cultural expectations or stereotypes.

Remember that these cultural categories and shortcuts may shortchange the person in front of you. Remember that some people experience ongoing trauma at being constantly invalidated by our assumptions that everyone is binary.  

To be an ally to the intersexed, use inclusive language.

Make a game of avoiding binary descriptors.  Instead of using standard binary greetings like: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls!”, use something like “Hello, everyone,” instead. Making people feel welcome and included means remembering they may be present, even if they are unannounced or closeted about their difference. It means not using social conventions that will exclude or invalidate people.  

Be a rebel for gender justice. Risk the wrath of the grammar police. We say “they” is a perfectly fine first-person pronoun for anyone. As anyone could have more than one genetic profile (i.e.: be twins or triplets fused early in the pregnancy), then anyone could be a grammatically unassailable “they.”

English is a very flexible language, one whose rules change based on usage. The more people who use “they” instead of “he” or “she,” the faster “they” will make it into the dictionary as officially acceptable to use as a first-person pronoun. That’s all it takes.

Our culture goes beyond classifying bodies and behaviours as being “male” or “female.” We assign binary sex alliances to qualities, as well, which tends to make them the exclusive property of one binary sex or the other. Being inclusive means being aware of how we’ve gotten into the habit of assigning gender to almost everything.

“Strength” and “toughness” are not masculine qualities. They are simply qualities, shared by and necessary for all human beings to survive.  But if we assume “strength” and “toughness” are qualities that belong to the cultural class known as “males,” then we are creating a social reality in which “females” are dissuaded from owning “strength” or “toughness.”  

Likewise, “gentleness” and “delicacy” are not feminine qualities. They are part of the fabric of being that makes up every one of us. We all need to learn how to be gentle and delicate, or we have shortchanged ourselves of our rightful human inheritance. It does not contaminate “maleness” to develop fine motor control or to be fully human.

We suggest cultural cross-training to loosen up constrictive cultural conditioning. We advocate teaching to our culturally-noted and enabled weak spots as well as to our stereotypical and idealized binary strengths.

That means expecting and teaching “girls,” as well as “boys,” to dust themselves off when then fall, and say: “I’m alright,” and carry on. We should all be taught to be confident and assertive, to walk with a bit of a swagger.  We should all be taught  to state clearly why a situation or behaviour is not OK with us, instead of being socialized to expect others to figure out that something is wrong.  

Cultural cross-training means expecting and teaching “boys,” as well as “girls,” how to be empathetic and observant of others’ emotions. We should all be taught to honour and make room for our own, and others’ emotions. We should all be taught that tears are a powerful and necessary release, and that there is no shame in letting one’s heart overflow through one’s eyes, because that is what it means to be human and to have a heart that feels at all.

We see “girls” in our culture free to choose any colour in the spectrum to express themselves in clothing, leaving boys only a monochromatic, dullard’s palate of grey, black or brown. We see this as self-policing behaviour to conform to binary expectations. Perhaps we need to remind people that all colours belong to everyone who can see and experience them and enjoy their vibrations, and that creativity in self-expression is everyone’s domain.

If we consciously extract our binary sex labels from human qualities or things, we will go a long way toward undoing our cultural fetish for classifying people – and everything else – as being either “male” or “female.” Otherwise, we risk becoming, and possibly have become, a culture of self-policing self-caricatures, each doing our best impression of “maleness” or “femaleness,” but leaving half of our essential humanity behind.

Read more about how we can all be more inclusive here.

How medicine can be inclusive:

This basic, fundamental knowledge about human sex determination needs to be acknowledged by medicine:  there is no strict dividing line in nature between male and female genitals, nor is there any guarantee that they will be the same sex as any of the other markers of sex.  

Surgically enforcing culturally-endorsed sexes is discriminatory, as it does not make room for the reality that not all people are sexually binary, nor do they have to be. We want our public health care system to affirm the right of intersexed people to exist.

We want our public medical system to affirm the right of the intersexed to be able to access rational, respectful, informed medical care that acknowledges their existence and needs, and that does not do any harm to their bodies or their psyches.

To do this, medicine needs to let go of its scientifically untenable and inherently discriminatory belief that sex is necessarily binary.

The general, global assignations of “M” and ‘F” are medically obstructive and inaccurate,  and need to be abandoned for a more realistic model of cataloguing sex characteristics, which may or may not be just one sex.

 

Cultural expectations for genital appearance are not a credible scientific basis on which to deny or agree to investigate a person’s sexual health care needs, but that is the current standard. We want to see greater scientific rigour, and a realistic respect for uncertainty within medicine.

Medicine needs to acknowledge that in any practice, an unknown number of their clients will necessarily be intersexed, in ways that are not suspected by a casual glance at the genitals. Making room for this reality means abandoning the presumptive and obstructive model that categorizes everyone as being either “binary male” or “binary female,” based merely on their genitals’ appearance.  

 

We suggest classifying every determinant of sex individually (gonads, genitals, genes, hormones, internals sex organs, etc.) We suggest giving three alternatives for each and every determinant, which can then be checked off as  “male,” “female,” or a “combination of the two”.  These checkboxes for individual determinants of sex would necessarily be understood to be changeable, as more detailed information about the individual’s sex markers became available, or as the individual transitioned to a sex that matched their psychological sex.

Medicine betrays its discriminatory assumptions about non-binary sexual conditions in its nomenclature.

The medical culture currently uses terms like “abnormal,”  “deformed,” or “disordered” to describe intersex differences. We suggest the profession adopt instead the terms “stereotypical” vs. “atypical” or  “culturally normative” vs. “culturally non-normative” in order to more accurately and sensitively describe intersex differences and individual sex differences.

In 2006, the profession renamed “intersex differences,” calling them instead “Disorders of Sexual Development.” Intersex activists hotly contest this change, stating it broadly and inappropriately pathologizes what are mostly individual differences that cause no health problems at all.

It is difficult for the intersexed to access respectful medical care. The attempt can be traumatizing: the medical culture refuses to acknowledge the intersexed, actively tries to erase all evidence that the intersexed do exist, and does not acknowledge the profound, ongoing and historic psychosexual trauma that are the result of these practices. For the intersexed, getting medical care “down there” can feel like stepping deep into enemy territory. Medicine needs to acknowledge and address the ongoing trauma that its attitudes of disbelief, entitlement to alter, and revulsion engender in its intersex client base.

For a reading list about medicine vs. the intersexed, including the debate over medicine’s renaming “intersex differences” as “Disorders of Sexual Development,” click here.

Read more about how medicine can be more inclusive here.

How our legal system can be inclusive

If our markers of sex do not have to be, and are not always just one sex, and if we cannot necessarily tell when this has happened, then binary sex is no longer scientifically or legally definable or defensible. Science concedes we don’t even know how to strictly define the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ anymore – except by cultural agreement.

So, is it fair or realistic to expect that all people will, or must fit into this culturally significant, but scientifically fictive binary classification system?

No.  To automatically categorize humans by the shape of their genitals is dangerous, discriminatory, obsolete and irrelevant.

Human Rights Legislation

We ask that our policy and law makers ensure that the human and legal rights of intersexed people be recognized and safeguarded, at last. Our legal system further needs to recognize and enshrine in law the right of the intersexed to exist as they are.  We need to make room in our society for the fact that a human being is a human being, regardless of the shape of their genitals.

At present, our laws regarding aggravated assault specifically exclude doctors to enable them to perform unconsented sex reassignment surgeries on minors who are born with culturally non-normative genitals, in order to create the appearance of one or the other “binary” sex. Such purely cosmetic genital “normalization” surgeries are done to bring everyone in our society’s genitals into line with our culture’s preferences for genital appearance. This is systematically done even if the baby or child’s culturally non-normative looking genitals are perfectly healthy, and pose no health risk at all.

We ask that section 3(a) of law C-268 be stricken, as it is based on scientifically untenable and inherently discriminatory beliefs: that a person’s sex can be determined by looking at their genitals, and that sex is always or necessarily binary. We state the obvious:  performing unconsented sex reassignment surgeries on infants and children in order to bring them into conformity with cultural expectations and preferences violates the human rights of those children.

To read more about inclusion, recognition and human rights for the intersexed in other juridsdictions, follow these links:

European Union: The fundamental rights of intersex people fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2015-focus-04-intersex.pdf  

UN Free and Equal Campaign Intersex Awareness Campaign  https://www.unfe.org/intersex-awareness/

UN Free and Equal Campaign Intersex Fact Sheet  https://www.unfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/UNFE-Intersex.pdf

We need to make room in our society for the fact that a human being is a human being, regardless of the shape of their genitals. Our legal system needs to acknowledge that a human being can have both male and female sex characteristics simultaneously, whether these individual differences have been medically noted, or not.

The fact that some people will be required to lie in order to be granted legal status or take part in our society has been ignored altogether. Not everyone can truthfully make such a choice. Some people are clearly both sexes, and identify as both.

We inherited our cultural belief that sex is binary from the Levantine religious traditions. To medically and legally limit one’s basic biology and natural sexual state in order that it should conform to the beliefs and expectations of our predominant and foundational religious systems is clearly inappropriate in a rights-based society.

Parents are routinely sworn to secrecy by their doctors about their child’s sex change operation and binary sex assignment. Parents may not even be informed of the true nature of the operation being done in order to “correct” a minor intersex difference.  

We want it to be made explicit in law: under no circumstances are doctors allowed to defraud their clients or guardians of their own basic biological and medical information by deliberately withholding or misrepresenting this information.

Offering a third option for sex (such as ‘X’) is one remedy for those whose psyches or bodies do not conform to our culture’s expectations for binary physical and social sexes. But this might lead to a new form of discrimination.

But, let’s also acknowledge that a person’s sex(es) and gender(s) are personal, private and ultimately unknowable, both scientifically and as an outside observer.

Perhaps as a society it’s time to just come out and admit that binary sexual classification is inaccurate and obsolete. What we call a person’s “sex” can only ever describe their social sex or gender, and that is, ultimately, whatever the person in question says it is.

Perhaps, legally, we should reassess whether it makes sense to denote sex at all in legal or personal documentation, unless such information is necessary or relevant, given that sex cannot scientifically be defined in strict binary terms with any certainty. 

When is Sex Relevant?

Those people who bear children may or may not be completely female, in terms of their sex markers. One can never assume child-bearing individuals are physically or psychologically 100% female, as our culture expects. But protections for child-bearing humans are, and should remain, an important part of public policy.

Likewise, testosterone levels are considered relevant for car insurance providers, but it must be understood that an individual’s hormone levels and gonads might not always agree with a male sex assignation.

Perhaps, legally, we should acknowledge the right of individuals to their privacy, and reassess whether it makes sense to denote sex at all in legal or personal documentation, unless such information is necessary or relevant to the situation, given that sex cannot scientifically be defined in strict binary terms with any certainty.

We believe it is the right of every individual not to be forced to disclose any private information about the appearance of their genitals or their social sex(es), unless this information is necessary. Some people do not want to be identified as either. Intersex (as well as genderfluid or transitioning) people can find the ever-present, assumption-based tickbox invasive and triggering, a constant reminder that they do not fit in to this society, and that our culture is not willing to include them unless they are willing to change or lie. Nor do they necessarily welcome the opportunity to “out” themselves with respect to their difference.

We say: what difference does it make, and whose business is it what someone else’s genitals look like?

We would like to see the intersexed specifically acknowledged and protected as a distinct sexual minority that is at risk for human rights abuses and discrimination.

Malta Declaration, Public Statement by the Third International Intersex Forum, December 1, 2013. http://intersexday.org/en/malta-declaration/

Read more about how our legal system can be more inclusive here.

 


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