Language is very important, and language can do harm. Here is one example to why:
The biggest priority most intersex activists/advocates/educators have, like me, is ending genital mutilation in babies born with intersex traits and decreasing our bodies being aborted when detected before birth.
This means “Born in the wrong body” transgender theories, can do us harm. This is one example of why I educate.
I support the message is: “No body is shameful” and “born perfect”. Instead of saying disorder, condition, syndrome, or birth defect. The United Nations wants us to say: NATURAL BODILY VARIATIONS. I like to say we are born a “variety of human”. I urge anyone who is wanting to speak up for intersex rights to please read and memorize these two pages given by the UNTIED NATIONS: INTERSEX FACT SHEET
Also, Although some intersex-born people may accept the word “hermaphrodite”, that word too can bring stigma, and shame, due to it being connected to a medical history of misinformed doctors who justified fixing our bodies due to some of us being labeled “pseudo hermaphrodite”. Always ask before using this word in public. It is always safest to say: “Intersex Person”. I happen to not mind being called a hermaphrodite.
The words we use to stop genital mutilation and abortions from happening are vastly different from how most transgender people are being taught or may feel about themselves and their, bodies and their genitals. Most psychiatrists, counselors, and doctors are teaching “born in the wrong body” theories and that transgender people need to “transition” through hormone manipulations and surgery to correct their “body dysphoria”. Although some transgender people truly have body dysphoria and benefit from treatment, some do not. The same truth holds true for intersex people. Everyone’s experience is unique to their own and generalizations are never a good idea.
Here lies the problem, the medical and psychiatric communities are teaching these theories even to the parents of intersex babies, and children. Even as adults, who discover later in life that we were born intersex are being taught these theories. The harm is horrendous. The setback in our movement is great.
Here lies the biggest difference between transgender and intersex. It is a mountain of misinformation, we are up against when it comes to saving bodies, and lives, so that we can simply be born with “NATURAL BODILY VARIATIONS” and co-exists our true gender in this world with the genitals and bodies we were born with.
An intersex person can have any gender identity, and according to the social construct of gender, it is not always going to “agree” with our genitals. So this means the self-determination of our gender has to be our choice. This choice needs to be a fully informed choice and should be given to any child born intersex. An intersex person can have any gender identity: man/boy, woman/girl, both or neither. We will not always have a binary gender identity. Here are some examples of the different gender identities an intersex person can have: Gender Identity.
To learn more, here is an excellent link regarding the “Basic Differences between Transgender and Intersex“, shared from Oii Australia.
An added note: Some, but not all transgender people elect to have Sex Reassignment Surgeries (SRS) or Gender Confirmation Surgeries. This can involve just doing “top surgery”, which involves masculinizing or feminizing one’s chest; or the more involved “bottom surgeries”, that help the person to align with their genitals to the expectations of the male/female binary. Also, some intersex people, but not all, can also identify as transgender and intersex both. It is up to the person how they describe themselves, and not up to others to label them or diagnose them. Some of us will elect to do hormones and/or surgeries, some of us will not. We are all valid in our authentic gender identity rather we had surgery or not.
Sad to say, these types of surgeries are also performed on infants and children, born intersex, and is often called “corrective surgery”. As you now understand, self-determination is a human right, to what surgery a person may or may not want. The United Nations says that cosmetic genital surgeries, and corrective surgeries, need to stop in non-consensual infants and children.
Trans Persons Posing as Intersex (and the damage they do to intersex rights)
My related blogs:
Why trans hate, transphobia and homophobia are hurting millions of intersex kids.
Common names for INTERSEX: Intersex is what it is….
Why I feel INTERSEX should be added to the LGBTQ rainbow
Am I Transgender? Can an intersex person be Transgender?
How I was medically, and psychiatrically violated as an intersex person.
Are my Husband and I Gay Men Now? How We Became Sexual Minorities, Our Intersex Love Story.
I was born perfect, and I am lovable. Thank you, United Nations.
Examples of Transphobia, Queerphobia, and Intersexphobia
12 thoughts on “The difference between transgender and intersex and the harm that wrong language can bring”
While I agree with you in most of it, the idea of “wrong body” comes from the transexual beginnings of transgender people – when they expected to “cure” transexual (transgender concept would only come decades later) by submitting them to surgeries. Also, the case of trying to cure mental illnesses was universal at that time – when lobotomy was accepted.
This concept of wrong body is the concept still used by the general public, but in academia, these concepts were substituted by gender identity, gender dysphoria (which do not need to be a physical distress) and, most importantly, the defence of intersex individuals rights.
Hello Jessica, Thank you for your thoughts. It is nice to see a world realizing that gender has nothing to do with our genitals, and allowing transgender people their existence, as well as us born intersex.
Denmark is no longer diagnosing there transgender folks with a mental illness, they don’t even say gender dysphoria anymore. This article talks about how they are the first in the world; it is very enlightening: “Denmark Is the First Country to No Longer Classify Being Transgender as a Mental” (you might have to copy and paste this url to find it): http://www.attn.com/stories/13969/denmark-no-longer-labels-transgender-mental-illness
I hope in America the concept of “wrong body” ends, and even the diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” ends. I feel it is stigmatizing and misguiding to both transgender and intersex people; especially those of us who do not feel they are in the wrong body. I sometimes wonder how many transgender and intersex people would feel they were in the wrong body if they were not told they were by society. One might never know the answer to that question since the expectations of gender conformity is thrown at us the minute we are born.
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Since DSM V Gender Dysphoria was not considered a mental illness. They are very clear about that. The reason they are still in the DSM is that they need a code to provide access to care.
The text bellow is from the APA/DSM.
Persons experiencing gender dysphoria need a diagnostic term that protects their access to care and
won’t be used against them in social, occupational, or legal areas.
When it comes to access to care, many of the treatment options for this condition include counseling,
cross-sex hormones, gender reassignment surgery, and social and legal transition to the desired
gender. To get insurance coverage for the medical treatments, individuals need a diagnosis.
The Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group was concerned that removing the condition as a psychiatric diagnosis—as some had suggested—would jeopardize access to care.
Part of removing stigma is about choosing the right words. Replacing “disorder” with “dysphoria” in the
diagnostic label is not only more appropriate and consistent with familiar clinical sexology terminology,
it also removes the connotation that the patient is “disordered.”
The removal in Denmark is from the ICD 10, that is from the nineties when the transsexual model and not the transgender model was the accepted.
Hello, it is very troublesome to me that they are ok with saying people have dysphoria, due to their standards of what creates a male and a female. Switching from “Disorder” to “Dysphoria” was not helpful in my case at all, and is very misleading and damaging. Please read: “Why was I diagnosed with GENDER DYSPHORIA?” : https://anunnakiray.com/2016/02/01/why-was-i-diagnosed-with-gender-dysphoria/
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Reblogged this on Free Space Of Life and commented:
Passing along the knowledge
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Thank you for helping me to educate this world. Much love to you!