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Respecting intersex people and showing solidarity

If someone tells you that he/she is intersex; you might be very surprised at first and ask yourself: How should I behave? What kind of support might that person want?

Respecting privacy

Intersex people have a right to privacy just like everyone else, especially with regard to their body and sexuality. Give that person the space to decide what information he/she wants to share with you and when.

Never out another person as intersex unless you have the explicit consent to do so at a particular occasion with a group of people. Intersex people are the best judge of when and where to expose the fact that they are intersex with reasonable risk.

Acknowledging experiences

When intersex people share their experiences, they often feel that their experience is being questioned, ignored, played down or unduly dramatized using questions or comments like:

  • "Are you sure?" – Being intersex shapes their lives and they have probably already been grappling with it for a long time.

  • "But that’s very intimate information." – If such shared information is not considered too intimate when told by a man or a woman, then a remark like this contributes to the invisibility of intersex bodies and lived realities.

  • "I read that they are considered as gods in other cultures." – An intersex person is not a deity, but a human being with desires and plans in the here and now.

If you value dialogue and wish to respect inter* people, such comments should be avoided. Do not reinterpret experiences that are not yours. Instead, try to accept the narrative as it is told to you and appreciate the trust bestowed on you. Remain open.

Talking and addressing a person

There are many expressions for intersex people circulating in science and everyday language, which inter* people criticize as being pejorative, concealing or misleading. Respect the self-definitions and terms intersex people use to describe their experiences.

Some intersex people use terms of address and pronouns, which might be unfamiliar to you. Some are happy to be addressed as “Mr” and “he” and/or “Ms” and “she”. If you are not sure how that person would like to be referred to – just ask.

Inter* solidarity every day

The exclusion and human rights violation of intersex people are exacerbated by the lack of knowledge about intersex in society. Everyone can do something about it:

Educate yourself and encourage others to follow suit. Raise your voice if you see that intersex people are being discriminated against.

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