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Happy Human Rights Day everyone! December 10th commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you want to learn more about Human Rights Day, please explore the preceding U.N. link, or check out this informative piece. Also, be on the lookout for our Right to Exist blog post, coming shortly.
On Human Rights Day 2012, OII-USA founder and E.D. Hida Viloria spearheaded the world’s first call for human rights by and for intersex people, by authoring a letter to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights signed by the world’s leading intersex advocates. The action initiated connections between the UN OHCHR and intersex activists which continue to thrive and enable positive developments.
For example, earlier this year, the U.N. Free and Equal Campaign released it’s Intersex Fact Sheet, which Viloria and other community leaders helped draft. Please check it out, if you haven’t already, and share widely. We think it’s the best document of its kind out there, educating about intersex people not as people with medical conditions, but as equal humans under a human rights framework, as OII has always advocated for. The U.N. even released a short video of Viloria in conjunction with the Fact Sheet, filmed when s/he was given the honor of speaking about the “I” at a U.N. LGBTI Human Rights Day 2013 event, along with tennis legend Martina Navratilova and Jason Collins, the world’s first openly gay NBA player.
This year, we are proud to be leading the way in the U.S. fight for legal recognition of intersex people, and indeed all non-binary people, with our very own Associate Director Dana Zzyym’s groundbreaking lawsuit. This past Intersex Awareness Day, October 26th, Zzyym, along with attorney Paul Castillo of Lambda Legal — who we are honored and grateful to report is representing Dana — announced that they are suing the United States’ State Department for denying Dana a passport because they could not accurately select an M or F gender marker. Dana — who is a Navy veteran and uses they/them pronouns — said:
“When I was a child, I had no say in what was done to me in order to make me “fit” in some acceptable category. I continue to suffer the consequences of those decisions today. But, as an adult, I can take a stand. I am not male, I am not female, I am intersex, and I shouldn’t have to choose a gender marker for my official U.S. identity document that isn’t me.”
Indeed, it is precisely the notion that only males and females exist which is used to validate the human rights violation of non-consensual, medically unnecessary, “normalizing” surgical and hormonal treatments of intersex infants and minors, which the entire global community advocates against. This practice is aimed at making us into males or females, under the presumption that those are the only things that human beings can be. While we are thrilled that, earlier this year, Malta became the first nation to criminalize the practice, in the U.S. it is still commonplace. Indeed, until the U.S. government acknowledges that intersex people exist, as equal citizens, the notions which validate medical attempts to eradicate us will persist.
We are indeed fighting for the very right to exist, and like all marginalized communities, we cannot do it alone. We need the help of allies like yourself to spread the word in order to make the world a safer place for intersex people to live openly as who we are. This Human Rights Day, please help by sharing the Intersex Fact Sheet, or any of the information on our website, or by making a tax-deductible donation to support our work for human rights for all intersex people.
Thanks in advance, and may all being be blessed with the actualization of their human rights!