Don’t Forget About The ‘I’ In LGBTQI+
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Politics and Activism

Don’t Forget About The ‘I’ In LGBTQI+

Categories force people to choose, and oftentimes their option is not listed.

Don’t Forget About The ‘I’ In LGBTQI+

Labeling individuals and believing in stereotypes (whether that be gender, racial, economic, etc.) has always been a problem present in our society; a disease which destroys rights and inhibits growth. Trying to label or place individuals into categories is a rudimentary concept; one that often fails. The idea that we can place people into specific categories argues that every single individual will fit into one; that every single person can be labeled and placed in a single-word category. However, this is oftentimes not the case and believing that people can always fit into one of these categories only creates burdens for those individuals who do not.

Labels are not always a bad thing; they can provide us with easy measure to compare objects, people, and characteristics. However, oftentimes it can be demeaning, inappropriate, or simply just wrong. One of the largest debated arguments of today is that of gender, a socially-constructed concept, and category. Most people grow up being taught that there are only two genders: male and female. That these are the only two options we have to label and categorize ourselves; however, this is not the case for every single person. This creates a marginalized group of individuals who do not identify as male or female or are unsure of which category they belong, because in truth there may not be a category in which they truly fit into.

An intersex individual is defined as a person who is born with a combination of "male" and "female" biological characteristics, such as chromosomes or genitals. To be intersex is a naturally occurring variation in humans and is not a medical problem. Though medically it is not an issue, oftentimes for families and doctors is can be a social one. Parents do not understand what to call their children: boy or girl? Doctors are unsure on how to identify them: male or female? Intersex individuals do not fit into the socially-constructed category of gender in today's world. The rights of these individuals, their needs, and often their bodies are not only overlooked but also decided for them.

German Lynn D., 34, was born with both male and female sex organs. After he was born, Lynn's parents and doctors decided that his sex would be female — leading them to surgically remove his penis and testicles. A procedure that was unnecessary at the time; one that had no medical reason, as his life was not in danger. Lynn states that "The doctors advised my parents not to tell me about my sex and simply raise me as a girl. And of course, it didn't work — because I'm not a girl." A decision that leads to years of conflict, self-image issues, and confusion for Lynn growing up. "I was labeled a girl; I wanted to be a girl and fit in — but it did not work. I got along better with boys so I thought, 'I'm a boy'. But then I realized that I'm not a boy either…boys also started to marginalize me. I did not have a good connection with my body and nobody helped me to establish a good connection with my body," recalls Lynn.

In order to begin to remedy this problem of gender for intersex individuals, a new change to the German constitution has been made: a new option on birth certificates are now made available to parents. Beginning on January 1st, Germany will be the first county in the EU to offer a "third gender" option on birth certificates: both intersex individuals and parents o intersex babies can now register as "divers" instead of choosing between male or female. Hailed as a "small revolution" by some intersex activists, this new change is finally a step in the right direction to provide individuals with an option to retake their bodies. An option to no longer be overlooked or incorrectly relabeled.

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