Business News/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Our real trouble with intersex people

As a standing committee on social justice and empowerment invites comments and suggestions to the Transgender (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016, one of the main concerns about the current version of the bill is the way it defines transgender persons as intersex persons, thus leaving out a large swathe of transgender individuals who aren’t intersex.

26 October is Intersex Awareness Day, and that’s probably for good reason, for there is a lot of confusion about the elusive ‘I’ in the LGBTQIA umbrella. In an effort to address the ignorance surrounding intersex populations, the United Nations released a video on Tuesday, which is probably the first time that the international body has addressed the concerns of this section of the gender diversity and sexuality spectrum.

The short 1.52 minute video, titled Perfect just the way they are shows a man and young girl waiting in a hospital for the doctor to emerge from the maternity room—the man’s wife, and the young girl’s mother, is delivering a baby. The doctor emerges, calls the man aside and tells him something that makes the father’s face crease with concern. The only sound in the video is the background music—the lack of language is clearly an attempt to drive this video to as many viewers as possible. The new father walks back to his daughter who has her crayons and drawing book ready, to draw a picture of their happy family. After hearing her father out, she begins to draw. Later, we see the two meet the mother and the new born child, and the daughter gives her mother the drawing. In it, we see a father, mother, a son and daughter. The sun shines above them; inside it is the face of the new baby.

The girl’s drawing is touching because it reveals, in a very powerful way, the limits of what we understand of sex and gender. From an early age, children are taught about gender as a binary—boy, girl; man, woman; sir, madam; mister; miss. Gender roles too, are simplified and passed off as natural—boys like blue, trucks, science; girls like pink, dolls, arts—a function of the grand conflation of sex with gender. To present socially constructed roles as derivatives of biological attributes has long been the ruse to make things seem ‘natural’. Yet, if up to 1.7% of all babies are born intersex—with physical traits that don’t meet the typical definition of male or female—and made to conform to either of the two genders, then clearly, we need to have a healthier regard for biology.

Intersex is a sex, like male or female. And like any child who develops its gender expression and identity as it grows up, so does an intersex child go through the same process. Their genitalia, hormones and chromosomes are not a measure of how much lesser or more of a boy or girl they are. World-over there is an increased recognition of the need to allow intersex children to choose which gender they wish to conform to on attaining puberty. This is just one way by which intersex people are not treated pathologically, but with the dignity they deserve. Bodies, after all, are naturally occurring, and everything we add is based on how little we know, and how much we fear. Intersex people, like LGBT folks, shake the neat binary demarcations that keep gender roles and heterosexuality in place. And, like sexuality, being born intersex is not a choice. Yet, the persecution of their difference is ruthless. One only needs to take a look at the stories of famous intersex athletes Pinki Pramanik, Dutee Chand and South African Olympic sprinter Caster Semenya.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Updated: 27 Oct 2016, 04:03 PM IST
Recommended For You
Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My Reads Watchlist Feedback Redeem a Gift Card Logout