What is Intersex Awareness Day?
October 26, 1996 marks the anniversary of the first public demonstration by intersex people in the United States. Members of the now defunct Intersex Society of North America and their allies arrived in Boston, MA at the annual conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics. They demonstrated and shared their pain in a very public way, denouncing non-consensual infant genital surgeries and demanding the medical industry take notice. Doctors dismissed the activists as a vocal minority in a 1997 New York Times article covering the intersex action. The tides are slowly changing.
TODAY, intersex people and our allies are following in their footsteps, organizing in cities around the U.S., and around the world.
In 2018, LGBT advocacy group Voices 4, intersex supermodel Hanne Gaby Odiele, Intersex Justice Project, and interACT teamed up in New York City to protest Dr. Dix Poppas, a leader in performing clitoral surgeries on minors, who came under fire for using vibrators on young intersex children to test his surgical results. Poppas faced no discipline and still practices at Cornell. In August 2018, he quoted that he “should have videotaped” the tests. Intersex Justice Project led their third action at Lurie Children’s in Chicago, calling for the institution to #EndIntersexSurgery. In 2020, the institution finally issued an apology.
Read more about the day’s history from Besty Driver, an early openly intersex elected official in the U.S.
Read our FAQ page for more information about intersex basics. And, here’s a handy list of 26 things you can do for Intersex Awareness Day.