Last month, we attended an intersex conference with hundreds of other people with intersex traits, including more than a dozen children and youth.
We heard countless stories of people who were cut with a surgeon’s scalpel because the doctor decided that the beautiful intersex body they were born with was ugly and abnormal – or not “right.”
We heard many intersex adults express that they felt uncomfortable in sexual relationships, and we saw many people angry for being forced by doctors, parents, friends, and more into the arbitrary sex, gender, and sexuality binary molds.
These harmful views that force people into sex, gender, and sexuality boxes don’t come out of thin air. They are perpetuated by misinformed people who spread, intentionally or not, harmful messages about others.
Last month, you were asked how you felt about athletes like Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand – fellow Olympic runners from South Africa and India – being allowed to compete in Rio and your response highlighted the need for why we all need a more nuanced understanding of sex and gender.
You said, “I think it challenges and threatens the integrity of women’s sports to have intersex athletes competing against … genetic women … Women have fought far too long to be able to even have the right to compete and now it’s being challenged by intersex and trans athletes and I don’t think that’s right.”
As you compete in Rio, we hope you, other Olympians, and all the fans watching will add the following intellectual exercises to your routine:
1. Educate yourselves about the fallacy of sex and gender binaries
2. Ask: “What does racism and nationalism have to do with my ignorance and comfort with questioning, if not humiliating, others?”
3. Interrogate the ideal of fairness in sport
We ask you to do this because we don’t want an Olympian from our country, or any country for that matter, to run with intersex and transphobia.