2011 International LGBT Roundup: Transgender and Intersex Rights

I’m rounding up the year in a series of posts — in which no doubt I’ve missed something, so please let me know what I’ve missed in the comments!

Transgender and intersex rights

One of the world’s most progressive transgender equality laws was passed in Argentina’s parliament and in the UK, a plan for comprehensive changes to ensure equality for trans people was announced. Chile also passed an anti-discrimination based on gender identity law, as did California and Massachusetts. But in Puerto Rico a roll-back of legal protection was proposed.

The Pole Anna Grodzka became the first transsexual MP in Europe and only the second trans parliamentarian in the world.

Germany removed the surgery requirement for legal gender change, as did Kyrgyzstan.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court created a ‘third gender’ category, but authorities have been slow to implement it. This caused real problems for trans people during the flooding which hit the country this year as did a similar failure to follow through on legal change in Nepal.

The first trans rights rally took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and new trans and intersex groups appeared in Russia and in Africa and the African groups came together to meet in Uganda.

Turkey jailed trans activists for ‘insulting police’ but an activist won a case against police at the European Court of Human Rights. Attacks on trans people by police in Albania drew protests.

The death of trans activist Aleesha Farhana in Malaysia after courts refused to change her gender on official documents sparked mass protests and a government concession and also increased sometimes bizarre coverage in local media.

The first intersex mayor in the world was elected in Australia. In September, the world’s first International Intersex Organising Forum took place in Brussels.

Figures released in October showed that one transgender person is murdered somewhere in the world at least every other day.

Related stories:

Appalling Treatment of Transgender Asylum Seeker Draws Lawsuit

The World’s First Intersex Mayor?

UK Government Launches Plan for Trans Equality

Anna Grodzka image via Wikipedia

30 comments

Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.4 years ago

Intersex need not always be some 'congenital defect' or 'physically atypical'... plenty may be fully fertile, and on the outside, completely indistinguishable from the 'typical majority'.
Thus intersex can be a very whole, healthy, natural state, albeit atypical (less common), and thus a minority. Gender identities also will vary to the point of being atypical for the given developed sex, be it an intersex combination or a more typical non-intersex combination.
Anyone could be XXY, and not even know it; and even be fertile.
A woman could be XY, and not know it till time of puberty and menses.
Only those with very specific physical atypicalities (can be seen on sight) or physiological atypicalities (cannot be seen on sight; but revealed in testing) may face health difficulties.
So the range of intersex overlaps well into those who are 'typically' sexed, as well as those who are 'trans' (atypical sex for their gender really) gender identify. This is not any different from those who are non-intersex, as they too, can be 'typically' sexed, and 'trans' (atypical sex for their gender really) gender identified.
Every combination of sex, intersex, and gender identity can exist, be it typical or atypical.
It is so important for everyone to realize, those who are atypical, are so not by choice, but it is natural, and less common, not unnatural nor abnormal. Thus the atypical should be treated EQUALLY as any of the typical of the majority.

Yvonne Fast
Yvonne F.4 years ago

Why shouldn't all people have the same rights? It's totally unexeptable!

James Campbell
James Campbell4 years ago

Jennifer S.
"The incidence of the condition is quite variable, estimated as one in 1500-2000 births"

There are approximately 12 recognised intersex conditions in western medicine. The frequency varies from one condition to another and from one nation to another since the data is gathered from live birth statistics. The most 'common' specific condition is Klinefelter Syndrome (genotype 47.XXY) which occurs one in 1,000 births. The 1:200 refers to the statistics relating to infants born with 'ambiguous' genitalia in that without further testing, it is difficult to identify the child's sex accurately. People whose genotype is neither 46, XX nor 46, XY (examples would be 48, XXYY or 47, XYY etc. are recorded as approximately one in 1,666 births. A condition known as 5 Alpha Reductase Deficiency which results in an infant who is 46, XY presenting as either physically female or 'ambiguous' at birth and at puberty, develops along a male pattern is extremely rare in North America and Europe, but is statistically significant (at 2% of live births) in the Dominican Republic, Papua New Guinea and Turkey. It is also worth mentioning that 1 in every 100 live births, an infant differs in some way from what is considered as average for male or female.

James Campbell
James Campbell4 years ago

Angela E.

We have a similar problem in the UK. It is currently a lottery as to whether the acronyms LGBT or LGBTI are used and even when the 'I' is added, many people do not understand what it means or fail to act on it. Recently, the UK government published a consultative document outlining steps to be taken to enhance gay and lesbian rights (which I support) and more recently published a second document 'A transgender-action-plan" which describes an 'Equality Strategy for Building a Fairer Britain’ (which I also support). The strategy is built on two principles – 'equal treatment and equal opportunity'. However, nowhere in either document does it mention intersex people and I would argue that you can't just assume that this group is automatically covered in both documents. I learned long ago that it is difficult enough to get government to act on what they say, never mind what they don't say.

RW Hardy
Robert Hardy4 years ago

Small steps. But steps.

Chad A.
Chad Anderson4 years ago

A little forward and a lot of tragic deaths. It doesn't threaten me when someone defines themselves as they truly feel. Why should I or anyone else have a say in someone else's intimate self-definition?

Jennifer S.
Jennifer S.4 years ago

Allan Y. In a nutshell, Intersex is a congenital condition that causes the infant to present with intermediate or confusing genitalia, and therefore uncertainty about the baby's gender. The designation is comprised of a number of conditions, with varying causes, such as sex chromosome abnormalities, problems with the sex steroids produced by the adrenal glands, and so on. The incidence of the condition is quite variable, estimated as one in 1500-2000 births. An old term was "hermaphrodite", but this has given way to the more politically correct term, intersex. Intersex individuals face a number of difficulties with their lives, with wide-ranging problems. In years past, the parents and/or the doctor made an arbitrary decision as to which gender the baby would be raised, and often "corrective" surgery was performed. There were so many disasters with the lives of those poor children that today, in most cases, gender assignment is postponed or not even done. There is a group of people who have formed the Intersex Society, devoted to confronting issues encountered by intersex individuals.

Jay T O.
Jay T. Stone4 years ago

Great to hear. Thank you for the article.

Allan Yorkowitz
.4 years ago

PLEASE educate me, what is "intersex"?

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

It's coming....FAR TOO LATE....but it IS coming!