On Saturday, the City of Austin will officially recognize Intersex Awareness Day for the first time.
According to the Texas Freedom Network, Council Members Greg Casar and Jimmy Flannigan will join Mayor Steve Adler “to publicly commit to enacting concrete protections for intersex individuals.” Members of the medical community also plan to issue a public apology for what they see as “past wrongdoings.”
People who are intersex were born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit typical definitions of “female” or “male.”
Alicia Roth Weigel, who is a human rights commissioner for the City of Austin, said people who are born intersex are often subjected to medical procedures at a young age that imposes a binary gender on them.
“They are having medically unnecessary and unconsented procedures … when they are too young to have a say in the matter,” Weigel said. “So, Austin always wants to be at the forefront of recognizing and affirming human rights. We kind of stand as a beacon for all of the South in that regard.”
Weigel said the city has been supportive of the gay and transgender community and “it was time to include intersex people in that conversation.” She said the identity of intersex people is often disregarded right after they are born – mostly because birth certificates often don’t account for people who are born neither male nor female.
The event — which will be led by advocates representing interACT and co-hosted by Equality Texas, the ACLU of Texas and Human Rights Campaign Austin — will host city leaders, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, state representatives and human rights activists. According to a press release, they will gather to celebrate Saturday at noon in the City Hall Plaza downtown.
According to some estimates, intersex people make up almost 2% of the global population. Weigel said Austin’s actions signal “a commitment to doing better” for those individuals, which includes educating people about the intersex community and making sure that the city’s services protect and serve them in the future.
“Just the fact of acknowledging that this community exists and is here in the city of Austin is kind of fighting against the state and federal erasure that is happening,” Weigel said.