Happy Belated IDAHO-T everyone! Yesterday was the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHO-T), and I was too busy working towards LGBTQIA visibility and equality to post here in time! BIG apologies to all who follow me and my blog for being a bit M.I.A. this past year — it’s hard to finish the edits on my manuscript, be an activist, and keep my website updated all at the same time, on top of having a life. But the good news is work is easing up and I’ll be able to start posting more soon!
IDAHO-T means a lot to me as I’ve been the target of homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia at different points throughout my life. In elementary and high school it was homophobia’s shaming message that lesbians must live closeted lives. In my early twenties, there was the additional, biphobic message that bisexuals are confused or greedy. Then, in my late twenties and early thirties, there was the homophobic violence that people perceived to be small, feminine gay boys — as I often was — are subjected to. There was also, when people knew I’m not a male, the transphobic message that it’s not desirable or acceptable to have a non-binary, or genderqueer, gender identity and expression. I faced this while coming out as intersex, and still do, not just from mainstream society, but also from some fellow members of the LGBTQI community. (Note: I haven’t experienced prejudice from asexual folks for being genderqueer, so I left that letter out of the acronym in the previous sentence there).
Although I’ve been on the receiving end of all the phobias IDAHO-T addresses, the majority of my activism has been focused on combatting what some of us call “Interphobia” (negative attitudes and beliefs about intersex people), because there are less people doing that work. However, I’ve learned, through my many years of doing so, that all the letters of the LGBTQIA acronym, and our respective communities, are connected.
Whether intersex people grow up to be LGBT or not, all intersex people are vulnerable to homophobia, transphobia and biphobia if our differences are detected at birth or in childhood, because the medical treatments we are often subjected to are driven by these phobias. Intersex adults are also vulnerable to homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, as I have long pointed out, and as the recent anti-trans bathroom laws– which also negatively impact intersex people — demonstrate. Addressing homophobia and transphobia, rather than pretending it doesn’t apply to us, is an integral part of ending interphobia and attaining equality for intersex people.
Conversely, intersex inclusion also benefits LGBTQA people. For example, the existence of intersex people was used in the fight to overturn Prop 8 and win back marriage equality (in an Amicus Briefs submitted to the California State Supreme Court), because really, how can you claim that marriage should be “between a man and a woman” when not everyone is a man or a woman, or male or female?
Many wonderful intersex allies have worked hard to include intersex people in their human rights efforts, but there are still some intersex activists who are opposed to being included in the LGBT+ community. This is why you don’t always see the “I” added to the acronym, and why “interphobia” is not included in IDAHO-T. Lots of us, however, have and continue to work in coalition with LGBTQA communities.
Right now, for example, Lambda Legal is representing Dana Zzyym, the associate director of the organization I founded and direct, OII-USA (a.k.a. the Intersex Campaign for Equality), in a lawsuit to attain legal gender recognition for adults whose gender identity is not accurately represented by the currently available male or female options. We realize that government recognition that sex and gender are not binary will benefit the entire LGBTQIA community– and that deserves a whole essay of its own, which hopefully will be coming shortly!
Until then, I want to thank singer/songwriter Rachel Platten, and the amazing folks at the UN’s Free & Equal Campaign, some of whom I am honored to know and work with, for this great IDAHO-T video. Please enjoy, and take a moment to enjoy all the progress we’ve made so far!