Bodies vs. identities
Many people mistakenly think that intersex is a term for a particular type of identity or body.
Here are some reasons why:
We’re usually taught by doctors, media, schools and others that everyone is male or female (sex) and therefore is a man or woman (gender).
Being intersex can be confused with being transgender. Transgender means someone whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex at birth.
Intersex means someone born with sex characteristics that are different to what is thought to be "typical" for a male or female body. Most people with intersex variations grow up to identify with their sex assigned at birth – this is often called "cisgender".
Remember that intersex variations are about differences in bodies. People with intersex variations may identify with many sexual or gender identities. LGBTIQA+ communities can be a safe space for people struggling with ideas about how women and men should look or behave.
What can I do to help support people with intersex variations?
Here are some ways you can support a friend with intersex variations:
- Learn more about people with intersex variations. Check out internet articles, books, and other media about their experiences.
- Lots of people with intersex variations are worried that they are "abnormal". If a friend tells you they have an intersex variation, don’t make them feel worse by acting shocked, amazed, or sorry for them. Instead ask supportive questions like, 'How do you feel about it?’
- Don’t pressure a friend with an intersex variation to share information about their body or medical history with you or anyone else. Remember, it’s their experience and right to decide whether they share this information and with whom!
- Get involved in activism for intersex people by following a related social media page or helping people understand how diverse bodies can be. Remember that there are lots of ways our bodies are similar but no one single way that "male" and "female" bodies differ!
"Intersex variations are about differences in bodies. People with intersex variations may identify with many sexual or gender identities."
- Alex, Kids Helpline Counsellor
Supports for people with intersex variations
Here are some ways you can support yourself if you are a person with intersex variations:
Need more support?
There are a range of support services available
Interact Advocates - provides information about people with intersex variations
Intersex Human Rights Australia - advocacy and information about your rights
Intersex Peer Support Australia - can help you bulid an online or offline network with other people with intersex variations and provide support
QLife - provides counselling support
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