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A different kind of superpower: what it means to be intersex | Susannah Temko | TEDxLondon

Jun 05, 2021
foreigner, so I have a confession to make right away. I don't know

what

you were doing when you were 16, but I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I was waiting too long to receive my letter inviting me to Hogwarts School. Witchcraft and Wizardry I could have gone to sixth grade I was also waiting for an invitation to the Jedi Temple or a tap on the shoulder to invite me to the X-Men I was that kid when I was 16 I got my wish I was taken to a doctor's office and told that, in fact, I am part of a group of people who are still largely invisible and misunderstood.
a different kind of superpower what it means to be intersex susannah temko tedxlondon
I'm

intersex

, that's my

superpower

for many of you in this room, it will be the first time I've even heard the word in

intersex

sex is anatomy refers to people who are born with one or more of a variation of sexual characteristics which are your genitals your hormones your chromosomes that fall outside the traditional conceptions of male and female bodies in other words, the most basic ones The assumption we have made about our species,

what

we are taught in schools that sex is binary, only male and female , it's not right like most things in this world, it's much more complicated than intersex people being left out of this entire sexual binary. has always existed throughout human history, like the Wizards of Harry Potter, we are practically invisible, some of us don't even know we like sex, like the X-Men, some of our traits are obvious at birth and others appear at the time when puberty is supposed to begin when we discover that we are intersex.
a different kind of superpower what it means to be intersex susannah temko tedxlondon

More Interesting Facts About,

a different kind of superpower what it means to be intersex susannah temko tedxlondon...

Some of us believe we are the only ones in the world. I specifically have X Y chromosomes which, as you may have understood, are typically male. I was also born with gonads instead of ovaries. here in this scenario it would have been my worst nightmare just five years ago it would have been impossible. I use the metaphor of the Superhuman but in reality we are like you. It is believed that intersex people make up up to 1.7 of the population, that is the same number of people who are born with naturally red hair, that

means

more depending on where you are in the world, but you get the idea, we are in front of you taking coffee, we're sitting next to you on the train, we're swiping left and right on dating apps, so why haven't you heard of us?
a different kind of superpower what it means to be intersex susannah temko tedxlondon
If we are so common. Why don't you see us? How has the world responded to us? We often think of disciplines like medicine and law as supposedly neutral, immune to prejudice, law being reason free of passion. The Hippocratic Oath of doctors states that warmth, sympathy and understanding can outweigh the surgeon's scalpel or the chemist's pill. Truly, these disciplines that touch our lives are impressive, but they are full of our prejudices. They are not immune, just as we are not immune to the effects of. that prejudice that can be devastating in medicine, intersex babies born with ambiguous genitalia are routinely operated on without consent and without medical necessity in an irreversible way so that their healthy anatomy appears more normal, this is even before they have said that their first words indicated a sexuality. or a gender identity, many people are never told the truth about their intersex traits and those who are are often told not to tell anyone, secrecy is imposed and shame is a close shadow in the law that crosses people are left out of categorization and, more importantly, out of protection. banal tasks, if you can imagine the number of forms you filled out and had to mark M or F, lack protection under any law, specifically the Gender Equality or Recognition Act, and intersex people cannot correct sex classification given to you at Birth, unless you come out as transgender after decades of activism, these life-altering issues are beginning to be addressed, so why does this matter to those of you who are not intersex and who Do they not have variations in sexual characteristics?
a different kind of superpower what it means to be intersex susannah temko tedxlondon
I imagine many people in this audience have wandered around in the privacy of their own bathrooms. Do my lips are too long? Do I have unequal testicles? In this audience they have those little worries but they generally go on with their lives without thinking about it these variations in our bodies like the color of our eyes or the size of our feet rarely affect our health materially to put it another way to give you an Idea of the intersexual experience What if when you were a baby your parents or your doctors looked at your lips, your penis, your testicles and thought it was a healthy feeling, but they weren't normal before you even knew what you wanted to do with them?
Well, you know? I want to tell them: What if they went so far as to assign you a

different

sex based on these measurements and then lied to you about what they had done? What if these surgeries sterilized you? What if they resulted in immense pain and scarring? And if? you had to take medications for the rest of your life to replace the healthy organs that were taken from you and you had to pay for those medications yourself and then every time you went to a doctor's office for a cold they asked you about your sex life and your gender .
Identify what your private parts look like and then more doctors and medical students were invited to add to these questions, ask you to drop your pants or undergo an unnecessary medical examination. This is a picture of what is happening to the intersex community. Today around the world our community is not against medicine or surgery, we are in favor of the right to make decisions about our bodies and our lives, the current approach towards intersex people arises from a now discredited academic study by a man who more than 50 years ago believed that you could raise a child of any gender by changing their genitals, without ever telling them and reinforcing that gender over and over again.
It also arises from referring to healthy intersex variations as abnormal or disordered. This makes sense if you mean something like a disorder. There is a solution, the fear and stigma of being intersex also arises from homophobia, transphobia, sexism and ultimately our colonial past. I'm not here to say that categories of men and women don't exist. I say it like most things in this world. It's more complicated than that, the world is complex and we can choose to see it as beautiful or we can choose to continue denying the existence of that complexity, pushing people into artificial binary boxes, fixing what isn't broken and restricting our own field of vision.
One of the challenges people face today is making ourselves visible and being safe at the same time. By that I mean we are appealing to the humanity of legislators to make us safe as we put ourselves in the public eye sharing our stories trying to build. community with people like us even when it is not safe to do so for parents of intersex children listening and observing those in the audience who can become the Guardians of intersex people I want you to know that I love my life but it has not been problem-free, especially in relation to being intersex, no life is problem free, all coins have two sides on one side.
I have been humiliated in doctors' offices. I've stood in front of potential partners and felt scared, so I'm not good enough. I watched other women pass me on the street and imagined they were more women than me. More human than me. I have questioned whether I have a place in this world. On the other hand, I have been loved deeply for all that I am in friendship and Romantically I have learned to have compassion and empathy for a broader range of society. I have taken the time to love my body and not judge the bodies of others.
I have developed strength and hope that would have been impossible without this particular life. The instinct to protect children. It is instinctive and it is admirable, but the truth is that loving acceptance and refusing to bathe that child in shame will protect him more than trying to fix something that is not broken, that is why we are interested in protecting intersex people and making them visible . because as long as societies reinforce an acceptable form of normality, everyone will face insecurity about being

different

in some way simply trying to erase variation, difference, generate shame, being sexual has not materialized, the powers I desired as a teenager.
Beyond being able to see. Where this false sexual binary harms us all, I believe that if intersex people can gain equality, can be seen, accepted and loved, then we will all be grateful.

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