In the midst of the escalating Israel-Hamas conflict and the ongoing hostage situation involving Americans in Gaza, the U.S. State Department chose to focus its attention on Intersex Awareness Day, signaling the administration’s commitment to promoting and protecting the human rights of intersex individuals worldwide. This move aligns with President Biden’s 2021 Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons, which aims to end violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics.
Intersex individuals often encounter stigma and discrimination when seeking education, healthcare, and legal recognition, and they can be subjected to medically unnecessary surgeries. These procedures, with the potential for long-lasting physical and emotional consequences, are akin to a form of so-called conversion therapy that seeks to alter intersex children’s physical characteristics. The State Department’s statement acknowledges and supports activists, organizations, and governments working to raise awareness and safeguard the bodily integrity and equal legal recognition of intersex individuals.
While the commonly cited statistic suggests that approximately 1.7 percent of the population is intersex, physician and psychologist Leonard Sax posits that the actual figure is closer to 0.018 percent if the term “intersex” is limited to conditions where chromosomal sex doesn’t align with phenotypic sex or where the phenotype is not clearly male or female.
Critics have raised concerns about the timing of this statement, given the numerous ongoing global and domestic crises. They argue that the Israel-Hamas conflict and the situation involving Americans in Gaza require urgent attention, potentially overshadowing the significance of Intersex Awareness Day in the context of these pressing issues.