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Intersex Justice Keynote Caps Recognizing Pride Month

July 01, 2020
Sean Saifa Wall
Sean Saifa Wall gives the Pride Keynote.

The Institute capped a series of activities celebrating Pride Month on June 30 with the Pride Keynote “Intersex Justice” delivered by Sean Saifa Wall, co-founder of Intersex Justice Project (IJP). 

Wall is a renowned Intersex activist, artist, and public health researcher. As co-founder of IJP, his work seeks the end of medically invasive and unnecessary surgeries in the United States that target Intersex children and adolescents by empowering Intersex people of color to advance that change.

People who identify as Intersex (the “I” in LGBTQIA+) have a set of sex characteristics that are atypical for males and females. These characteristics may show up in infancy, adolescence, or adulthood. “Intersex is not only in the genitals,” Wall said, “Intersex folks may have ambiguous genitals, hormonal levels, atypical chromosomes, there’s a large spectrum that it encompasses.” Wall noted that 1.7% of the population is estimated to be Intersex, and that to this day hospitals in all parts of the country regularly mutilate Intersex babies at birth to make their bodies appear either more male or female.

Wall talked about the intersection between racism and injustice toward Intersex people and how historical non-binary gender norms in cultures around the world were erased by colonialism. “We can’t talk about the pathologizing of Intersex bodies and Black bodies without talking about colonization…We’re reclaiming those spiritual legacies around gender. I’m excited to see how bold people get, how many genders are possible when we allow that space to exist.”

He advised health care providers looking to get involved in Intersex activism that, “This moment is really asking us to do work in our lane. It’s sexy to protest, but there is something to the everyday grind toward justice and liberation. I would challenge everyone, what can you do in your lane? That’s where the work is…If we’re critiquing state violence and we’re critiquing the police fraternity, there’s also a medical fraternity too. If you know that Intersex surgery operations are happening at your hospital, you’re an accomplice.”

Other Pride Month events organized by the Office of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion included LGBTQIA+ 101 on June 9, Application to Clinical Environment on June 16, and Pronouns 101 on June 18.

Watch the Pride Keynote below: