What are the benefits of telling others about being intersex? What are the disadvantages? What is useful to consider when coming out?
Some people do not tell anyone that they are intersex. Others openly acknowledge it to raise awareness about issues and rights of intersex people. Many choose the middle path – they disclose that they are intersex as they see fit.
What are the benefits of telling others that I am intersex?
To acknowledge that you are intersexual offers you the possibility of finding people with similar experiences. Many also describe it as empowering – to enfranchise other inter*people and the community through their own visibility.
If you identify as non-binary, there is another reason why coming out might be useful – informing others that you are neither a man nor a woman may help you to finally be correctly perceived.
Why do many people keep the fact that they are intersex to themselves?
Intersex people often do not see any reason to share any information about their bodies which they feel are in no way relevant to their self-perception nor to their everyday lives.
Other inter*people find the risk of facing rejection, exclusion and other negative consequences is too high.
How can I deal with negative reactions?
Many people grow up believing that there are only male and female bodies. The encounter with an inter* person confronts them with information that, in the first instance, they are unable to process. Uncertainties about their own sex characteristics or gender identity might play out and some respond to this defensively. For example, they question the statement made by the intersex person; they don’t want to hear it at all; or may even break off contact with that person.
This can be painful and unfair. Hence, it is important to remember that you are not the cause for such defensive reactions; but rather the other person. Try to spend your time with people and activities that empower you.
What else can be useful when coming out?
Take your time! Ask yourself: How much of myself do I want to expose? Do I feel strong enough to deal with negative reactions?
Most people know very little about intersex. If you do not want to explain everything yourself, you can use the information provided online and offline by inter* organisations.
Do not allow yourself to be led astray: You are ok! What is not ok is to discriminate against others based on their bodily characteristics or gender identity.
Contact with other intersex people is not only useful for exchange of information, but also to be able to say to others: “I am not the only one; we are many!”