Intersex Awareness Day

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Intersex Awareness Day
Observed by Intersex community, LGBT communities & allies
Type International
Date October 26
Next time 26 October 2017 (2017-10)
Frequency annual

Intersex Awareness Day is an internationally observed awareness day designed to highlight human rights issues faced by intersex people.[1]


The event marks the first public demonstration by intersex people in North America, on October 26, 1996, outside the venue in Boston where the American Academy of Pediatrics was holding its annual conference.[2][3] Intersex activists Morgan Holmes and Max Beck participated for the (now-defunct) Intersex Society of North America,[4][5] alongside allies from Transsexual Menace including Riki Wilchins.[4] Holmes has written that the event was intended not as a demonstration but as participation in the conference. She states that Beck and Holmes had intended to deliver an address, "on long-term outcomes and to challenge their still-prevailing opinion that cosmetic surgery to "fix" intersexed genitals was the best course of action", but were "met, officially, with hostility and were escorted out of the conference by security guards".[6][4] The group only later demonstrated, carrying a sign saying "Hermaphrodites With Attitude".[7]

The commemoration day itself began in 2003[5][8] with the establishment of a central awareness raising site by Betsy Driver and Emi Koyama.[5] A central awareness raising site was later re-established in 2015 by Morgan Carpenter with Laura Inter of Brújula Intersexual, and support from Open Society Foundations.[9]


Intersex Awareness Day is an international day of grass-roots action to end shame, secrecy and unwanted genital cosmetic surgeries on intersex children.[2][10] The day also provides an opportunity for reflection[11][12] and political action.[13] Between October 26 and November 8, intersex organizations bring attention to the challenges intersex individuals face, culminating in the Intersex Day of Remembrance[3] on the birthday of Herculine Barbin, also sometimes known as Intersex Solidarity Day.[14][15][16]

Notable observances[edit]

On Friday 25 October 2013, the day before Intersex Awareness Day that year, the Australian Senate published a report on an inquiry titled the Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia.[17] On 11 November 2014, the New South Wales Legislative Council in Australia passed a motion marking Intersex Awareness Day and calling on the State government to "work with the Australian Government to implement the recommendations" of the 2013 Senate committee report.[13][18]

For Intersex Awareness Day 2014, the Senate of the German Land of Berlin issued a statement calling for self-determination for intersex people.[19] Also in 2014, the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, Distrito Federal, held a visibility event on intersex issues.[20]

In 2015, institutional events included the launch of an Intersex Human Rights Fund by Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice,[21] and a motion submitted to New South Wales Legislative Assembly in Australia by Greens MP Jenny Leong.[22] A lawsuit was filed by Dana Zzyym of the Intersex Campaign for Equality, with Lambda Legal, suing the United States Department of State for legal gender recognition on their passport as nonbinary and intersex.[23][24] Buzzfeed reported that over 4.2 million people saw personal stories posted on social media in an action coordinated by activist Pidgeon Pagonis.[25]

In 2016, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched an awareness website,[26] while UN experts, including the Committee against Torture, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, along with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and United Nations Special Rapporteurs called for an urgent end to human rights violations against intersex persons, including in medical settings.[27][28] The United States Department of State[29] and Australian Human Rights Commission[30][31] also made statements, alongside many civil society organizations.[32][33][34] The South African government acknowledged a need for action to prevent human rights violations,[35][36] and there was a first event in Kenya.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Intersex Awareness Day". Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Intersex Awareness Day, 2013". Organisation Intersex International Australia. 26 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "The 14 days of intersex". Star Observer. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Holmes, Morgan (17 October 2015). "When Max Beck and Morgan Holmes went to Boston". Intersex Day. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  5. ^ a b c Driver, Betsy (14 October 2015). "The origins of Intersex Awareness Day". Intersex Day. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  6. ^ Holmes, Morgan (2006). "Deciding fate or protecting a developing autonomy? Intersex children and the Colombian Constitutional Court". Transgender Rights. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 32–50. 
  7. ^ Beck, Max. "Hermaphrodites with Attitude Take to the Streets". Intersex Society of North America. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  8. ^ Mitchell, Mani (October 21, 2015). "International Intersex Awareness Day 2015". Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  9. ^ Carpenter, Morgan (3 November 2015). "About Intersex Day; evaluating the project". Intersex Day. Retrieved 2015-12-05. 
  10. ^ "Celebrate Intersex Awareness Day: October 26, 2004". Egale Canada. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "So, It's Intersex Awareness Day and What Have We Done?". The Interface Project. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Why Intersex Awareness Day is important". Star Observer. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Legislative Council, Minutes Of Proceedings, No. 16, Tuesday 11 November 2014". New South Wales Legislative Council. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Intersex: Myths and Realities". Transfaith Online. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  15. ^ "GUEST POST: October 26 is Intersex Awareness Day". GLAAD. 26 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Am 8. November ist Inter*sex Solidarity Day". IVIM/OII Germany (in German). 26 October 2013. 
  17. ^ Australian Senate (25 October 2013). "Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia". 
  18. ^ "NSW Legislative Council motion marking Intersex Awareness Day, 2014". Organisation Intersex International Australia. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  19. ^ Senate of the Land of Berlin, Germany (24 October 2014). "Intersex Awareness Day: Senat fördert Angebote für intergeschlechtliche Menschen" (in German). 
  20. ^ Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, Distrito Federal (October 2014). "Forum: “Inter visibilidad, Visibility intersex”". 
  21. ^ Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (October 25, 2015), Astraea Launches the World's First Intersex Human Rights Fund 
  22. ^ Intersex Day (26 October 2015). "Motion introduced into NSW State Parliament". Intersex Day. Retrieved 2015-12-05. 
  23. ^ Lambda Legal (October 26, 2015). "Lambda Legal Sues U.S. State Department on Behalf of Intersex Citizen Denied Passport". 
  24. ^ Rein, Lisa (October 27, 2015). "Intersex applicants face passport discrimination, says lawsuit seeking option other than ‘M’ or ‘F’". Washington Post. 
  25. ^ Karlan, Sarah (October 28, 2015). "People Took To Twitter To Share Their Deeply Personal #IntersexStories". Buzzfeed. 
  26. ^ "United Nations for Intersex Awareness". October 2016. 
  27. ^ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (October 24, 2016), End violence and harmful medical practices on intersex children and adults, UN and regional experts urge 
  28. ^ Radcliffe, Charles (October 24, 2016). "Intersex Ed at the UN". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  29. ^ Department Of State (October 26, 2016). "In Recognition of Intersex Awareness Day". 
  30. ^ Santow, Ed (October 26, 2016). "Intersex rights are human rights". Australian Human Rights Commission. 
  31. ^ Wade, Matthew (2016-10-26). "The importance of ending harmful surgeries on intersex children in Australia". Star Observer. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  32. ^ "Intersex Day". October 2016. 
  33. ^ "Intersex Awareness Day". Interact Advocates for Intersex Youth. October 26, 2016. 
  34. ^ "Intersex Awareness Day news round-up". Organisation Intersex International Australia . October 29, 2016. 
  35. ^ " South Africa and the rights of intersex children". Intersex Day. October 26, 2016. 
  36. ^ Collison, Carl (October 27, 2016). "SA joins the global fight to stop unnecessary genital surgery on intersex babies". Mail & Guardian. 

External links[edit]