In recent years, many great strides have been made to improve the rights and lives of LGBT+ people all over the world. However, there is still much progress to be made, and many LGBT+ people still face stigma and persecution. Intersex Day of Remembrance (also known as Intersex Day of Solidarity) serves to remind us of the struggles that are faced by many intersex people.
(Content warning: This article contains a brief mention of suicide.)
What does Intersex Day of Remembrance commemorate?
On Intersex Day of Remembrance, we think about the injustices that intersex people still deal with. It is still legal for unnecessary and invasive cosmetic medical procedures to be performed on intersex children. As well as this, intersex people are only allowed to change their gender on identity documents, such as passports, if they declare themselves to be transgender. The UK, like many countries, doesn’t have a classification for a third gender/nonbinary gender on identity documents. There is a lot of progress to be made for intersex rights.
Why the 8th of November?
You might wonder why Intersex Day of Remembrance takes place on the 8th of November. The 8th of November marks the birthday of Herculine Barbin, an important intersex person whose memoirs led to a better understanding of what it means to be intersex and the discrimination they face for who they are.
Who was Herculine Barbin?
When she was born, Herculine Barbin (1838-1868) was assigned as female. As she got older, it became clear that she was intersex, and she was forcibly reassigned as male. Barbin’s memoirs give a personal and heart-breaking insight into how she felt about her forced reclassification. Sadly, she committed suicide in 1868, at 29 years old. Her tragic story reflects the experiences of many intersex people who are often scorned for having an appearance that doesn’t fit into gender norms and are assigned to a gender they may find difficult to identify with. Intersex Day of Remembrance takes place on her birthday to honour her memory.
Why we observe Intersex Day of Remembrance
Intersex Day of Remembrance serves to remind us of the challenges that still must be overcome in the fight for intersex rights. It isn’t a joyful and triumphant time, like Pride Month, but it is still important. It is a reminder that, in order to achieve equality for intersex people, we first need to recognise the barriers that must be broken down to make way for progress.