International Intersex Forum

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Third International Intersex Forum, Malta, December 2013

The International Intersex Forum is an annual event organised, then later supported, by the ILGA and ILGA-Europe that began in 2011. The forum brings together intersex activists and organisations from multiple regions of the world, and it is believed to be the first and only such intersex event.[1]

Predecessor gatherings[edit]

The International Intersex Forum is preceded by several other smaller gatherings, including an ISNA retreat in 1996 that brought together activists from North America and New Zealand, and also a summer school organised by OII-France in 2006. The retreat is documented in a short movie entitled Hermaphrodites Speak[2][3] and the film Intersexion, and the summer school in a book, A qui appartiennent nos corps? Féminisme et luttes intersexes.[4][5]

First international intersex forum, Brussels, September 2011[edit]

This event, described as "historic" brought together 24 people from 17 intersex organisations to create a new informal network and agree a closing statement. The statement reads:[1][6]

Around the world intersex individuals are being subjected to inhumane and degrading altering surgical and hormonal procedures, without consent of the intersex person, at the discretion of doctors and outside legal regulation. This is done to ‘normalise’ genitals and bodies in order to fit intersex people within the sex binary of men and women. Pathologisation of intersex individuals results in gross human rights violations and abuse bodily integrity and personal dignity.

The Forum agreed on the demands aiming to end discrimination against intersex people and to ensure the right of bodily integrity and self determination:

  1. To put an end to mutilating and ‘normalising’ practices such as genital surgeries, psychological and other medical treatments, including infanticide and selective abortion (on the grounds of intersex) in some parts of the world.
  2. To insure that the personal, free, prior, and fully informed consent of the intersex individual is a compulsory requirement in all medical practices and protocols.
  3. Creating and facilitating supportive, safe and celebratory environments for intersex people, their families and surroundings.

Spokespeople for the first forum were Sally Gross of Intersex South Africa, Hiker Chiu of Oii-Chinese, Gina Wilson of Organisation Intersex International Australia, Del LaGrace Volcano, Mauro Cabral and Jim Bruce, alongside ILGA representatives Sebastian Rocca and Silvan Agius.[6]

Second Forum, Stockholm, December 2012[edit]

This forum brought together 37 activists who represented 33 intersex organisations and institutions, selected from an open call application process managed by ILGA and ILGA Europe.[7] The participants made a series of "demands aiming to end discrimination against intersex people and to ensure the right of bodily autonomy and self-determination", including ending infanticide, terminations of intersex fetuses, ending "normalising" surgeries and providing human and citizenship rights:[8][9][10][11][12] Countries represented included Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Taiwan, Tunisia, Uganda and the US[13]

  1. To put an end to mutilating and ‘normalising’ practices such as genital surgeries, psychological and other medical treatments, including infanticide and selective abortion (on the grounds of intersex).
  2. To ensure that the personal, free, prior, and fully informed consent of the intersex individual is a compulsory requirement in all medical practices and protocols.
  3. Creating and facilitating supportive, safe and celebratory environments for intersex people, their families and surroundings.
  4. In view of ensuring the bodily integrity and health of the intersex child, psycho-social support and non-pathologising peer support be provided to parents and/or care providers and the child`s immediate family instead of surgical or other medical treatment unless such interventions are live-saving.
  5. The provision of all human rights and citizenship rights to intersex people.
  6. The provision of access to one`s own medical records and any documentation, and the affirmation of the intersex person's right to truth.
  7. The acknowledgement and redress of the suffering and injustice caused in the past.

The Forum called for the inclusion of intersex people in UN human rights, work. As part of this, Hida Viloria of OII-USA presented an open letter sent on behalf of signing participants at the Forum to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.[14] The first European intersex NGO, OII Europe, was founded at the event.[15]

Third Forum, Malta, November–December 2013[edit]

Third International Intersex Forum, Malta, December 2013

The third forum was held in Malta with 34 people representing 30 organisations "from all continents". The closing statement affirmed the existence of intersex people, reaffirmed "the principles of the First and Second International Intersex Fora and extend the demands aiming to end discrimination against intersex people and to ensure the right of bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self-determination". For the first time, participants made a statement on birth registrations, in addition to other human rights issues:[16][17][18]

  • To put an end to mutilating and ‘normalising’ practices such as genital surgeries, psychological and other medical treatments through legislative and other means. Intersex people must be empowered to make their own decisions affecting own bodily integrity, physical autonomy and self-determination.
  • To put an end to preimplantation genetic diagnosis, pre-natal screening and treatment, and selective abortion of intersex foetuses.
  • To put an end to infanticide and killings of intersex people.
  • To put an end to non-consensual sterilisation of intersex people.
  • To depathologise variations in sex characteristics in medical guidelines, protocols and classifications, such as the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases.
  • To register intersex children as females or males, with the awareness that, like all people, they may grow up to identify with a different sex or gender.
  • To ensure that sex or gender classifications are amendable through a simple administrative procedure at the request of the individuals concerned. All adults and capable minors should be able to choose between female (F), male (M), non-binary or multiple options. In the future, as with race or religion, sex or gender should not be a category on birth certificates or identification documents for anybody.
  • To raise awareness around intersex issues and the rights of intersex people in society at large.
  • To create and facilitate supportive, safe and celebratory environments for intersex people, their families and surroundings.
  • To ensure that intersex people have the right to full information and access to their own medical records and history.
  • To ensure that all professionals and healthcare providers that have a specific role to play in intersex people's wellbeing are adequately trained to provide quality services.
  • To provide adequate acknowledgement of the suffering and injustice caused to intersex people in the past, and provide adequate redress, reparation, access to justice and the right to truth.
  • To build intersex anti-discrimination legislation in addition to other grounds, and to ensure protection against intersectional discrimination.
  • To ensure the provision of all human rights and citizenship rights to intersex people, including the right to marry and form a family.
  • To ensure that intersex people are able to participate in competitive sport, at all levels, in accordance with their legal sex. Intersex athletes who have been humiliated or stripped of their titles should receive reparation and reinstatement.
  • Recognition that medicalization and stigmatisation of intersex people result in significant trauma and mental health concerns.
  • In view of ensuring the bodily integrity and well-being of intersex people, autonomous non-pathologising psycho-social and peer support be available to intersex people throughout their life (as self-required), as well as to parents and/or care providers.

The forum called on:

  1. International, regional and national human rights institutions to take on board, and provide visibility to intersex issues in their work.
  2. National governments to address the concerns raised by the Intersex Forum and draw adequate solutions in direct collaboration with intersex representatives and organisations.
  3. Media agencies and sources to ensure intersex people's right to privacy, dignity, accurate and ethical representation.
  4. Funders to engage with intersex organisations and support them in the struggle for visibility, increase their capacity, the building of knowledge and the affirmation of their human rights.
  5. Human rights organisations to contribute to build bridges with intersex organisations and build a basis for mutual support. This should be done in a spirit of collaboration and no-one should instrumentalise intersex issues as a means for other ends.


For the first time, the organising team consisted of intersex representatives, as well as ILGA and ILGA Europe representatives (Ruth Baldacchino and Silvan Agius). The intersex representatives were Mauro Cabral from Global Action for Trans Equality, Mani Mitchell representing Advocates for Informed Choice, and Hida Viloria from OII-USA.[19] Attending participants selected by the team included Advocates for Informed Choice,[20] Morgan Carpenter and Tony Briffa from Organisation Intersex International Australia,[21] Intersex Austria[22] Holly Greenberry from Intersex UK[23][24] Nederlandse Netwerk Intersekse/DSD (NNID),[25] IVIM/OII Deutschland[26]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b First ever international intersex forum, ILGA-Europe (Creative Commons statement), 6 September 2011
  2. ^ Hermaphrodites Speak!, Intersex Society of North America, 1997.
  3. ^ Hermaphrodites speak, WorldCat, 1997.
  4. ^ (French) A qui appartiennent nos corps? Féminisme et luttes intersexes Nouvelles Questiones Féministes, Vol. 27, No. 1/2008, Université de Lausanne.
  5. ^ 1ères Universités d’été des Intersexes et Intergenres d’Europe Paris - du 16 au 19 août 2006, OII-France, 1 August 2006.
  6. ^ a b First ever international intersex forum, ILGA, 7 September 2011
  7. ^ Call for applications: 2012 Intersex Forum, ILGA Europe, 13 July 2012
  8. ^ The Second International Intersex Forum concluded, ILGA Europe (Creative Commons statement), 12 December 2012.
  9. ^ Second International Intersex Forum concludes with seven demands, Organisation Intersex International Australia, 12 December 2012
  10. ^ (German) Zweites Internationales Intersex Forum hat in Stockholm stattgefunden, IVIM/OII Deutschland, 12 December 2012
  11. ^ The Second International Intersex Forum, Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand via Scoop News NZ, 13 December 2012
  12. ^ (French) Second forum intersexe international de l’ILGA 2012, OII Francophonie, 9 April 2013
  13. ^ The second International Intersex Forum has just concluded in Stockholm, with an affirmation of seven key demands and priorities for intersex people, OII Europe, 14 December 2012
  14. ^ Open Letter: A Call for the Inclusion of Human Rights for Intersex People, ILGA Europe, 10 December 2012
  15. ^ First ever European Intersex NGO founded. OII Europe sets up work on Intersex Human Right Issues, OII Europe, 14 December 2012
  16. ^ 3rd International Intersex Forum concluded, ILGA-Europe (Creative Commons statement), 2 December 2013
  17. ^ Global intersex community affirms shared goals, Star Observer, December 4, 2013
  18. ^ (Chinese) 2013第三屆世界陰陽人論壇宣言, Oii-Chinese, December 2013
  19. ^ 3rd International Intersex Forum in Malta, ILGA-Europe, 22 July 2013
  20. ^ Public Statement by the Third International Intersex Forum, Advocates for Informed Choice, 12 December 2013
  21. ^ Public statement by the third international intersex forum, Organisation Intersex International Australia, 2 December 2013
  22. ^ (German) Öffentliche Erklärung des Dritten Internationalen Intersex Forum, Intersex Austria, 8 December 2013
  23. ^ Holly is now sat chatting planning and catching up with..., Intersex UK on Twitter, 28 November 2013
  24. ^ IntersexUK consensus paper.3rd International IntersexForum concluded..., Intersex UK on Twitter, 3 December 2013
  25. ^ (Dutch) Derde Internationale Intersekse Forum, Nederlandse Netwerk Intersekse/DSD (NNID), 3 December 2013
  26. ^ (German) Public Statement by the Third International Intersex Forum, IVIM/OII-Germany, 1 December 2013