The United States affiliate of the Organization Intersex International (OII)

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Video of White House LGBT Health Conference now online, with questions by intersex activist

THE videos of the morning sessions from the White House LGBT Health Conference in Philadelphia on Thursday February 16 2012 are now online and available for viewing at any time. Dana Zzyym, an intersex activist and OII United States member attended the conference and asked a set of questions only to receive a brief and puzzling, troubling answer. 

The White House: On the Road in Philadelphia: Focus on LGBT Health - click to go to this web page.
The White House: On the Road in Philadelphia: Focus on LGBT Health - click to go to this web page.

Dana asked her questions during the Senior Leaders Panel session from 9:40am. The three Department of Health and Human Services – HHS – senior leaders were Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health and Ken Choe, Deputy Legal Counsel. Ms Greenlees and Mr Choe are publicly known to be LGBT Presidential Appointees.

Jefferson Digital Commons: White House LGBT Conference in Health - click to go to this web page.
Jefferson Digital Commons: White House LGBT Conference in Health - click to go to the web page for video from the Senior Leaders Panel session.

Ms Greenlees spoke about the HHS LGBT Working Group followed by Mr Koh and Mr Choe. During question time, Dana’s question was only answered by HHS Deputy General Counsel Ken Choe, who spoke about “gender transgressiveness” and “notions of gender”, two topics of no direct applicability to intersex. Intersex is a range of biological variations in sex, and although all people have a gender or no gender at all, intersex itself is most certainly not a question of gender, gender identity or “gender transgressiveness”.

Jefferson Digital Commons: White House LGBT Conference in Health, Senior Leaders Panel - click to view this video.
Jefferson Digital Commons: White House LGBT Conference in Health, Senior Leaders Panel, with questions from OII United States member Dana Zzyym - click to view this video.

To watch Dana asking her questions and receiving Mr Choe’s disturbing answer, go to about the 54:50 mark in the video. We are puzzled by the answer our member received. Are they a sign that at least one, possibly all three of these Health Department senior leaders, may not know what intersex is and what intersex people’s health needs are?

HealthyPeople.gov: null result for search using the term intersex - click to go to this web page.
HealthyPeople.gov: null result for search using the term intersex - click to go to this web page.

It also goes some way to explain why the health needs of intersex Americans have so far been ignored by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Obama Administration. Further evidence is in the HHS website and that of President Obama’s much-vaunted Healthy People program for the disadvantaged of the United States.

Intersex people remain one of the most disadvantaged groups of people on the planet, without equality, human rights or fundamental client-centred healthcare, subjected to medical experimentation and intersex genital mutilation (IGM), often impoverished and with poor life expectations.

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