Organisation Intersex International Australia

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Organisation Intersex International Australia
Abbreviation OII Australia
Formation 2009
Type NGO
Purpose Intersex human rights, education and peer support
Region served
Tony Briffa and Morgan Carpenter

Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII Australia) is an unfunded voluntary organisation for intersex people that promotes the human rights and bodily autonomy of intersex people in Australia, and provides peer support, education and information.[1][2] Established in 2009, incorporated as a charitable company in 2010,[3] and recognised as a Public Benevolent Institution,[3] the organisation has played an active role during a period where it has been asserted, "Australia can lead the way for intersex people".[4]

Board members[edit]

The current co-chairs of OII Australia are Morgan Carpenter, previously president,[5][6] and Tony Briffa, known as the first publicly intersex mayor and previously vice-president.[7][8][9][10] Tony Briffa is also the Vice-President of the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group Australia. Founding president Gina Wilson stepped down on 1 September 2013.[2][11] Founding Vice-President Chris Somers xxy also stepped down into a board position on 1 September 2013.[6]

Anti-discrimination legislation[edit]

In late 2012, the governments' proposed Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill included intersex as a "gender identity", and failed to protect people with non-binary identities.[12][13] Writing in the Equal Rights Trust journal Equal Rights Review, Gina Wilson wrote, "Legislators initially did not have a clear understanding of what intersex was, but having given evidence to Senate Committees and spoken with legislators individually we are hopeful that intersex will be a protected attribute under the Bill."[1][14] A Senate Committee report on the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill agreed with the position taken by OII Australia,[15] leading to the creation of a new protected attribute, stating:[12][16]

The committee agrees with the evidence presented by Organisation Intersex International Australia, and other submitters, that intersex status is a matter of biology rather than gender identity, and as such should not be covered within the definition of gender identity in the Draft Bill. Further, the committee considers that the current requirement in the Draft Bill that intersex individuals identify as either male or female is misguided, and is unhelpful for intersex individuals whose biological characteristics do not necessarily accord with a male or female identification.

On 25 June 2013, the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act passed with cross-party support.[17] It became law on 1 August 2013, with ground-breaking inclusion of "intersex status" as a protected attribute, as well as protection of people with non-binary gender identities.[18][19] "Intersex status" is recognised as a biological attribute, so no religious exemptions exist.[20]

Bodily autonomy[edit]

OII Australia campaigns in favour of personal autonomy in all medical intervention affecting intersex people, and an end to cosmetic or "normalising" surgeries on intersex infants.[21][22][23][24][25][26] In late 2012, the Senate's Community Affairs References Committee established an inquiry into the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities. In February 2013, intersex was added as an additional term of reference.[27] The Committee published a joint, cross-party report on 25 October 2013, making 15 recommendations. The conclusions of the inquiry supported much of the case and recommendations made by OII Australia:[28]

3.109 ... As OII commented, normalisation surgery is more than physical reconstruction. The surgery is intended to deconstruct an intersex physiology and, in turn, construct an identity that conforms with stereotypical male and female gender categories

3.129 ... The proposals put forward by Organisation Intersex International have merit, and are consistent with the committee's conclusions. The committee believes that a protocol covering 'normalising' surgery should be developed, and then adhered to in all cases of intersex children. Such a guideline should be consistent with Organisational Intersex International's recommendations

Writing at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's The Drum website, Morgan Carpenter, the president of OII Australia wrote, "The Senate Committee has changed the debate on the correct treatment of intersex differences. If adopted, its recommendations will effectively protect the rights of intersex children and future adults."[5]

OII Australia campaigns against the inclusion of intersex as a "Disorder of Sex Development" in descriptions of "gender dysphoria".[29][30][31]

The organisation also engages directly with clinicians and biologists. While opposing use of "pathologising terminology" such as "Disorders of Sex Development" or "DSD",[32] the president of OII Australia is nevertheless named as a reviewer for a "DSD Genetics" website funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council Australia.[33]

In a submission to the UN Committee Against Torture in 2016, the organisation pointed to contradictory statements by Australian governments, suggesting that the dignity and rights of LGBTI (LGBT and intersex) people are recognized while, at the same time, harmful practices on intersex children continue.[34]

Access to healthcare[edit]

In July 2013, the Commonwealth announced that it was removing sex or gender terms from item codes for Medicare procedures,[35] following input from OII Australia.[36] OII Australia noted that the changes do not ensure full access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).[37]

Sex and gender recognition[edit]

The organisation states that "while sex or gender markers are still required", it supports binary, non-binary and multiple gender classifications for adults, but only binary classifications for infants and children, fearing stigmatisation and the potential impact on sex assignment processes for infants.[38][39][40][41][42] This strategy is aligned with a statement by the third international intersex forum, which occurred in Malta in November–December 2013.[43] In June 2013, OII Australia welcomed the publication of federal guidelines recognising sex and gender, stating, "The guidelines do not oblige intersex people to identify with a specific gender... the guidelines recognise that an intersex person might choose to identify as male, female, or intersex, unspecified or indeterminate."[44] In contrast, the organisation cautiously acknowledged an Australian Capital Territory Bill to modify the Territory's birth registrations process, stating, "neither of the two national intersex organisations had been engaged in talks before the bill was presented in the Assembly."[45][46]


Long active on marriage issues, OII Australia has argued that both "same-sex marriage" and opposite sex marriage exclude intersex people.[47][48][49] The Human Rights Law Centre and Australian Marriage Equality have expressed concern about the drafting of same-sex marriage legislation in the Australian Capital Territory.[50][51]

Peer support, education and information[edit]

The organisation prioritises peer support for individuals via its website, email, social media and telephone. It also provides educational and information services for institutions and organisations.[1][2][52]

Relationship with LGBT and queer communities[edit]

The relationship of OII Australia to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, and queer communities, is a little complex. In an Intersex for allies explanatory leaflet, the organisation states that some intersex individuals are same sex attracted, and some are heterosexual, but "LGBTI activism has fought for the rights of people who fall outside of expected binary sex and gender norms. Intersex is part of LGBTI because of intersex status and a shared experience of homophobia, not because of sexual orientation or gender identity." An associated guide for service providers comments that not all intersex people identify with the LGBTI "human rights movement".[53]

A submission on genetic selection via Preimplantation genetic diagnosis to the National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that deselection of embryos and foetuses on grounds of intersex status should not be permitted, quoting research by Georgiann Davis, Morgan Holmes, and Jason Behrmann and Vardit Ravitsky.[54] It quotes research showing pregnancy termination rates of up to 88% in 47,XXY even while the World Health Organization describes the intersex trait as "compatible with normal life expectancy", and "often undiagnosed"[55][56] Behrmann and Ravitsky find social concepts of sex, gender and sexual orientation to be "intertwined on many levels. Parental choice against intersex may thus conceal biases against same-sex attractedness and gender nonconformity."[57]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Founding former president Gina Wilson was a finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission Community Individual Award, 2013. The Commission describes the award as one of "the two most vigourously contested categories for the 2013 Australian Human Rights Awards"[58][59] commenting that, "Gina Wilson is the founder of Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia, and was its president until September 2013. Her intersex advocacy work has been ground-breaking, helping to achieve authentic and appropriate inclusion in anti-discrimination legislation."[60]

The organisation was nominated for a 2013 Community Organisation "Honour" Award[61][62] for its work on anti-discrimination legislation. Then president, Gina Wilson, was nominated for a Community Hero Award in 2011.[63]


OII Australia is a national affiliate of Organisation Intersex International, a member of the National LGBTI Health Alliance and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Equal Rights Review, Volume Ten (2013), Equal Rights Trust, 27 March 2013
  2. ^ a b c Changes At OII As Trailblazer Gina Wilson Retires , Star Observer, 13 September 2013
  3. ^ a b About OII Australia, Organisation Intersex International Australia, 24 July 2013
  4. ^ Australia can lead the way for intersex people, Morgan Carpenter in The Guardian, 18 June 2013
  5. ^ a b It's time to defend intersex rights, Morgan Carpenter at Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Drum, 15 November 2013
  6. ^ a b The OII Australia Board, Organisation Intersex International Australia, 12 October 2013.
  7. ^ Briffa to march in mayoral robes, Star Observer, 8 December 2011
  8. ^ "Intersex Mayor Elected in Australia",, 9 December 2011
  9. ^ "World's first intersex mayor, Cr Tony Briffa does not want to be called he or she", Herald Sun, 15 April 2013
  10. ^ "Melbourne elects Australia's first intersex Mayor",, 9 December 2011
  11. ^ Board changes at OII Australia: Gina Wilson steps down, Gay News Network, 2 September 2013
  12. ^ a b Senate Committee Report on the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012, Chapter 3, Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, 21 February 2013
  13. ^ Proposed law leaves intersex 'vulnerable', Judith Ireland, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January 2013.
  14. ^ The Equal Rights Review, Equal Rights Trust
  15. ^ OII Australia, submission on the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012
  16. ^ Senate Committee Report on the on the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012, Chapter 7, Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, 21 February 2013
  17. ^ On the historic passing of the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013, OII Australia, 25 June 2013
  18. ^ LGBTI groups welcome the passage of “historic” national discrimination laws, OII Australia, NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Transgender Victoria, A Gender Agenda, Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, 26 June 2013
  19. ^ Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013, No. 98, 2013. C2013A00098, ComLaw, 2013
  20. ^ Explanatory Memorandum to the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013, Australian Parliament, 2013
  21. ^ Statement on the Senate report ‘Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia’, OII Australia, 29 October 2013
  22. ^ Call to end intersex genital operations, Andrew Bock, The Age, 20 June 2013
  23. ^ LGBTI Health Update, Vol. 3, No. 4, May 2013, National LGBTI Health Alliance, May 2013
  24. ^ Intersex health – Morgan Carpenter’s presentation to Health in Difference conference, OII Australia, 22 April 2013
  25. ^ It’s time to stop cosmetic genital surgery on intersex infants, OII Australia, 18 July 2013
  26. ^ Senate Inquiry reveals forced surgery on intersex children, Gay News Network, 25 September 2013
  27. ^ Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia, Chapter 1, Senate Community Affairs References Committee, 25 October 2013
  28. ^ Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia, Chapter 3, Senate Community Affairs References Committee, 25 October 2013
  29. ^ OII takes concerns to the APA, Gay News Network, 7 June 2012
  30. ^ Intersex community angry at 'disorder' classification, Gay News Network, 30 September 2011
  31. ^ OII Australia and OII Aotearoa submission on the DSM-5 and SOC-7, OII Australia, 7 June 2012
  32. ^ Concluding submission to the Senate Inquiry on involuntary or coerced sterilisation, OII Australia, 12 September 2013.
  33. ^ DSD Genetics, Disorders of Sex Development Research Website, 9 October 2013
  34. ^ "Submission: list of issues for Australia's Convention Against Torture review". Organisation Intersex International Australia. June 28, 2016. 
  35. ^ Gender discrimination to be removed from Medicare, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 2013
  36. ^ All Gender Discrimination to be Removed from Medicare, The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP – Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research, 24 July 2013
  37. ^ Medicare is now sex and gender neutral, OII Australia, 24 July 2013
  38. ^ Third sex option on birth certificates , Deutsche Welle, 1 November 2013
  39. ^ Third Gender: A Step Toward Ending Intersex Discrimination , Der Spiegel, 22 August 2013.
  40. ^ Revised policy on identification documents, OII Australia, 12 November 2013
  41. ^ Australia embraces new gender guidelines, Madeleine Coorey, Agence France-Presse, 14 June 2013
  42. ^ ‘X’ gender: Germans no longer have to classify their kids as male or female, RT, 3 November 2013.
  43. ^ 3rd International Intersex Forum concluded, ILGA Europe, 2 December 2013.
  44. ^ We welcome new federal guidelines on sex and gender recognition, OII Australia, 13 June 2013
  45. ^ ACT government bill will introduce wider gender identification, Lisa Cox, The Canberra Times, 29 November 2013
  46. ^ ACT Govt proposes third option for birth certificates, Star Observer, 19 November 2013
  47. ^ CAAH rocked by schism, claims of branch stacking, Gay News Network, 22 March 2012
  48. ^ Briffa Calls for Australian Marriage Equality to Change It’s Name, Out in Perth, 20 October 2013
  49. ^ ACT marriage bill “excludes” intersex people, Star Observer, 21 October 2013
  50. ^ ACT’s Marriage Equality laws remain vulnerable say legal experts, Human Rights Law Centre, 22 October 2013
  51. ^ Anna Brown: Towards State-based marriage for all LGBTI couples, Gay News Network, 6 November 2013
  52. ^ Contact Us, Organisation Intersex International Australia, 14 December 2008
  53. ^ OII releases new resource on intersex issues, Intersex for allies and Making services intersex inclusive by Organisation Intersex International Australia, via Gay News Network, 2 June 2014.
  54. ^ Submission on the ethics of genetic selection against intersex traits, Organisation Intersex International Australia, 29 April 2014.
  55. ^ A. F. Radicioni, A. Ferlin, G. Balercia, D. Pasquali, L. Vignozzi, M. Maggi, C. Foresta, A. Lenzi (2010) Consensus statement on diagnosis and clinical management of Klinefelter syndrome, in Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, December 2010, Volume 33, Issue 11, pp 839–850.
  56. ^ Gender and Genetics, World Health Organization Genomic resource centre, undated, retrieved 22 April 2014.
  57. ^ Queer Liberation, Not Elimination: Why Selecting Against Intersex is Not “Straight” Forward, Jason Behrmann and Vardit Ravitsky (2013) in the American Journal of Bioethics, 13:10, 51–53. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  58. ^ Commission announces shortlist for community Human Rights awards. Australian Human Rights Commission, 15 November 2013.
  59. ^ Intersex pioneer & NSW gay lobby get nods for Human Rights Awards, Star Observer, 18 November 2013
  60. ^ Community Individual Award – Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Award (sponsored by iHR Australia), Australian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Awards 2013
  61. ^ Honour Awards 2013 – Nominations
  62. ^ The 2013 Honour Awards finalists, Gay News Network, 2 September 2013
  63. ^ And the Honour Award goes to …, Star Observer, 23 September 2013