This paper is based on a presentation at The Mental Health Services conference in Perth, Australia, on 28 August 2014.
Intersex people are recognized in Australian anti-discrimination law through an attribute of “intersex status”. At the same time, intersex variations are described by medicine as ‘Disorders of Sex Development’, implying that intersex persons collectively have individual disorders that can be ‘fixed’. While ‘fixing’ sex is increasingly understood as a human rights issue, the birth of an intersex infant remains a ‘challenging clinical emergency’. Surgical interventions on minors continue, addressing psychosocial rationales such as family distress, and even marriageability. This paper applies the concepts of intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1993), structural violence (Galtung, 1969), and epistemic injustice (Fricker, 2007) to the physical and mental health of people with intersex variations.
Thanks to Samnyasi Brhaspati of the NSW Consumer Advisory Group – Mental Health for her assistance with the presentation draft, and Assistant Professor Ivan Crozier of Sydney University for his assistance with a version of this paper.