National Black Justice Coalition Commemorates Intersex Awareness Day

CONTACT: Brett Abrams | [email protected] 

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the country’s leading Black LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, commemorates Intersex Awareness Day on October 26th. 

This date marks the first demonstration by intersex people at the annual conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics. At the conference, intersex protesters denounced non-consensual infant genital surgeries and demanded the medical industry take notice of their pain. 69% of LGBTQ+ intersex people experienced some form of discrimination, roughly twice the discrimination rate reported by LGBTQ+ non-intersex people. 

Hormone regulations passed in 2018 by World Athletics barred some intersex athletes from competing in events such as the Olympics. Black intersex women, including Caster Semenya, Margaret Wambui, Francine Niyonsaba, and Aminatou Seyni, were disqualified from competing in their preferred events at the 2021 Olympic Games or barred because they did not fit the requirements to compete against other women. To meet the criteria, athletes must take medication or undergo surgery to reduce their naturally high testosterone levels. 

Statement from Victoria Kirby York, deputy executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition commemorating Intersex Awareness Day: 

“As a non-binary woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), I have naturally high levels of male hormones such as testosterone compared to other women. PCOS is the most common reproductive health disorder impacting ten percent of people born with female reproductive organs. Intersex people are similarly born with natural variants in the biological factors determining one’s sex. Sex variance is based on genitalia, chromosomes, hormones, and other factors – most of which none of us truly know about ourselves unless there is a problem.

“Intersex people are often punished for how they were born and have had the power of choice and knowledge of their identities stolen from them from the moment they were born. Athleticism is based on leveraging the natural benefits of biology alongside training and preparation; however, various leagues have made decisions to exclude intersex people from leveraging their natural benefits of biology. This Intersex Awareness Day, let’s remind our lawmakers, sporting leagues, and doctors that Black Intersex Lives Matter and their personhood must be respected from birth forward.”

While civil rights protections for Black intersex people are still not universal, the past two years have shown the importance of elections in improving the lives of marginalized communities. Last year we saw a historic White House recognition of IAD, followed by essential rules and guidance from the Department of Justice (Title IX, DOJ grants), the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services recognizes that federal civil rights laws prohibit discrimination based on sex characteristics, including intersex traits. President Biden’s intersex-inclusive LGBTQI Equality Executive Order directs HHS to issue a first-of-its-kind federal report on intersex health equity within one year. We’ve also seen the House pass historic, explicitly intersex-inclusive legislation, including the Equality Act, Global Respect Act, Paycheck Fairness Act, and LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act. 

Building on policy changes from several major hospital systems in 2020-21, WPATH’s SOC version 8 digs deeply for the first time into the unique healthcare considerations and potential medical harms that intersex people face. 

If you struggle with definitions and terminology related to intersex people, or gender identity and expression, view NBJC’s Cultural Competency Terminology Workbook HERE.