Today’s blog is brought to you by the power of programming, the will of our Social Media Officer Callum, the literary convention of asking rhetorical questions and me sticking to the tasks laid out in my diary and writing a blog in advance because I’m on annual leave today.
Monday 26th October is Intersex Awareness Day, a day relevant to Chrysalis as a charity supporting trans, non-binary and questioning people although Chrysalis and the support we offer is not necessarily important, or relevant, to those who are intersex.
Here at Chrysalis we surf the wave of understanding about gender, and gender identity. We know that the science very clearly tells us that the world doesn’t divide into two genders, into male and female. That everyone’s biological, genetic and experiential realities do not fit into those two categories.
What does being intersex mean then?
There are millions of people around the world who have sexual characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. Many, though not all, of these people identify as intersex.
Why aren’t all intersex people trans, can’t you just use the same word and stop confusing us?
Being trans (or transgender) is defined as an incongruence with the gender you were assigned at birth, that you are out of alignment with the assumed gender written on your birth certificate, it is an interrelation of your physical, psychological and social realities.
Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural variations that affect genitals, gonads, hormones, chromosomes or reproductive organs. Sometimes these characteristics are visible at birth, sometimes they appear at puberty, and sometimes they are not physically apparent at all.
Why do you care?
I grew up in a world where the gender rules were being deconstructed, where it was now OK for girls to do historically predetermined boy things. I learnt that to be a healthy and fully rounded girl I needed to consider hard sciences and engineering as career options and that it was my right to wear trousers. My mum thought she was freeing me from the restrictions of my birth gender, making sure I wasn’t limited to the choice of teacher/nurse/secretary that limited her career options.
My mum and those around her fought, and instilled in me the need to fight, against the limitations being assigned female at birth brought me. Without their fight we wouldn’t have had the Sex Discrimination Act and all the other changes in equality that have led to the Equality Act. They were not wrong to fight, but in their fight they missed that the binary itself was part of the problem. They needed to turn up the volume on the word woman so that it could be heard, we needed she and her in our academic case studies, we needed representation and role models, but I still saw myself as being of class “female”, not of class “person”. I don’t believe it is coincidence that gender neutral meant “it’s OK for women to use male things” (trousers, “dude”, hard sciences) yet it was not OK to be a man in a dress.
If we are to achieve a world where it is OK to be your authentic self, where your gender identity is simply an aspect of who you are, then we need to keep on moving towards that place where everyone is a person first and foremost and to do that we need to recognise that all genders, and none, are equally valid.
By promoting the idea of Gender Authenticity we promote the understanding and acceptance of everyone’s gender reality. We stop assuming someone’s identity based on one visible characteristic and allow for change and difference as an integral part of all of us. We encourage all people to define their own gender identity and in doing so we stop eradicating those people who don’t fit into the gender binary. We look deeper when we need but we don’t get all tangled up in pointless definitions when it is not important.
What’s On Next
Before I sign off here’s your weekly update about what’s coming up for Chrysalis
Donate £20, choose your flag and do your bit for trans awareness and inclusion
Come to Chrysalis’ Annual General Meeting.
- Marvel at our ability to manipulate technology with the first ever Virtual AGM
- Find out what we did in 2019-20,
- Be inspired by how we adapted to Covid and
- Contribute to our plans for the future
The AGM is open to all, with all active volunteers eligible to vote. If you’re not on the list you’re not coming in so don’t forget to click the link and book your ticket
It’s been long awaited, covid interrupted but by the power invested within Chrysalis we bring you our third conference: Gender Identity Matters 2020
What a line-up! I could blog all day about the influence these people have had on my life, my thinking and my career and I still wouldn’t scratch the surface. Come and hear from professionals why Gender Identity really matters and why getting it right will change your world.