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September 15, 2019

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Intersectionality & Intersex

by Lisa Koenecke

This blog goes out to Dr. Erin Mason in Georgia. When I was seeking advice on what topic I should present on next, Erin said, “Intersectionality.” A fairly new term to me in 2017. So, what is intersectionality? Let’s find out and as always…thanks for asking!

According to Merriam Webster: Intersectionality—the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect

Update: This word was added in April 2017.

That’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it down. While the concept has been around since the late 1980’s but intersectionality is a word that’s new to many of us. It’s used to refer to the way that the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) can combine, overlap, and yes, intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.

The term was coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in a 1989 essay that asserts that “antidiscrimination law, feminist theory, and antiracist politics all fail to address the experiences of black women because of how they each focus on only a single factor.” Crenshaw writes that “[b]ecause the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated.”

Though originally applied only to the ways that sexism and racism combine and overlap, intersectionality has come to include other forms of discrimination as well, such as those based on class, sexuality, and ability.

So, there ya have it from the technical side of things. As a white able-bodied, priviledged lesbian, that would be my intersectionality. I will continue to educate myself more on supporting all populations including those with intersectionality and those identifying as intersex. Intersex flag is below in yellow with a purple circle in the middle.

Let’s talk about a secondletter “I” for today: Intersex. Have you heard of this term? “Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.

Did you know that more people are born intersex than have cleft pallets? Truth. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) is devoted to systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female. This is why I am not a fan of gender reveal parties! Consider gifts of something other than pink or blue for babies, or kids in general. You don’t know what the intimate details of a family might be, and the small act of using gender neutral colors like green, yellow, or purple might just help a new parent feel better about their new baby. Plus green and yellow are Packer’s colors!

If you’d like to learn more on the term intersex, here’s an excellent, award-winning video. One hour in length. Thanks for reading & feel free to share!

Click on the IS IT A BOY OR A GIRL logo above? IT IS A ONE HOUR AWARD WINNING VIDEO

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