To mark Intersex Awareness Day on October 26, the U.S. State Department issued a statement recognizing the rights of intersex people globally.
Spokesperson Ned Price said the department was committed to protecting the rights and dignity of everyone — including intersex people.
“Intersex persons are subject to violence, discrimination, and abuse on the basis of their sex characteristics. Many intersex persons, including children, experience invasive, unnecessary, and sometimes irreversible medical procedures,” Price said. “The department supports the empowerment of movements and organizations advancing the human rights of intersex persons and the inclusion of intersex persons in the development of policies that impact their enjoyment of human rights.”
Price added that the Department of State also stands with activists and organizations working to advance the rights of intersex people.
Also on Tuesday, the Center for American Progress released a new U.S.-focused analysis from its LGBTQ Research and Communications Project that provides an overview of the experiences intersex people face.
The results of the analysis — culled from the project’s 2020 survey data — include that intersex people in the U.S. experience heightened discrimination from dealing with health care providers to trying to get appropriate identification documents.
For instance, CAP found that 69 percent of LGBTQ+ intersex respondents had faced some form of discrimination in the year prior to the survey. That number is twice the rate of discrimination that LGBTQ+ non-intersex respondents reported.
Researchers also found that 88 percent of LGBTQ+ intersex respondents had experienced a form of discrimination from a health care worker. That could include being denied care, being commented on negatively, or physically abused. Only 19 percent of LGBTQ+ non-intersex respondents reported similar situations.
Almost 80 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents who reported discrimination said that it had affected their “ability to obtain accurate ID documents,” compared to 23 percent of LGBTQ+ non-intersex people who reported discrimination.
“To address these disparities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should take steps to prohibit nonconsensual, medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex youth,” Caroline Medina, policy analyst for the LGBTQ Research and Communications Project, said in a press release. “HHS should also create awareness campaigns for the public, medical professionals, and other stakeholders about the rights of intersex youth. And to address discrimination against people with intersex traits, it's imperative that Congress pass the Equality Act.”
Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of human rights for children born with intersex traits interAct, said, “The finding that intersex patients experience discrimination in health care settings at a rate more than four times that of non-intersex patients is both staggering and unsurprising.”
“For years, intersex people as young as infants have been subjected to harmful discriminatory practices that cause profound lifelong physical and emotional harms. These important new data help quantify what the intersex community has known for years.”