Australia and New Zealand intersex advocates have united to write a historic statement declaring their community’s priorities for the future.
Intersex people are born with internal or external sex anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of “female” or “male”, and physical variations in intersex people can include chromosomes, internal organs and genitals.
Nearly two-percent of the population is born with intersex traits, similar to the number of people born with red hair, but young intersex people often undergo irreversible and unnecessary surgeries that have the potential to cause lifelong health issues and psychological harm.
At a special retreat this month in Darlington, Sydney, more than 20 advocates came together to create the “Darlington Statement”.
It contains calls to actions for governments, clinical institutions, the wider LGBTI community and other allies and identifies key priorities for the intersex community, including law reform to protect bodily autonomy, more effective oversight of clinical decisions, and better access to affirmative health care and peer support.
The statement says current forms of oversight of medical interventions affecting intersex people are “inadequate”.
Bonnie Hart, president of AIS Support Group Australia (AISSGA), said the penning of the statement is “absolutely historic”.
“The coming together of so many different intersex people from around Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand is cause for celebration in and of itself,” Bonnie said.
“By transparently outlining our common direction, the Darlington Statement has galvanised our community and the intersex movement generally.
“I feel so honoured to have been exposed to such insight and resilience and urge governments, health and social services to hear our voice and implement our demands.”
Tony Briffa, co-executive director of Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII), said the intersex movement in Australia and New Zealand has “come of age” and the community “will no longer tolerate being silenced.”
“I am incredibly proud of the strength of our diverse intersex community coming together and developing a unified statement that addresses intersex issues so comprehensively and clearly,” Tony said.
“This statement will be the basis of much of our work over the coming years, and we hope it is disseminated, read, quoted and even implemented by governments and organisations everywhere.”
The Darlington Statement can be read in full on OII’s website here.