Monday, October 05, 2009

Hijras commemorate the life of Jeannie Kay Hinkle

OII-India held a special ceremony 28 September 2009 in commemoration of Jeannie Kay Hinkle, beloved partner of Curtis E. Hinkle, founder of the Organisation Intersex International.The ceremony included prayers for and in the name of Jeannie Kay Hinkle as it was a Dussera festival day there.

Food was fed to 100 Hijras and poor after the prayers.

"Of all duties, benevolence is unequaled in this world, And even in celestial realms. He who understands his duty to society truly lives. All others shall be counted among the dead." - Tirukkural 22: 213-214

For more information about EKTA, the foundation sponsoring the ceremony: Click here

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Tribute to my Loving Companion, Jeannie Kay

I have been overwhelmed by all the loving support and condolences that I have received since my partner Jeannie Kay passed on last Friday, February 20, 2009.
I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for surrounding me with love and affection during this difficult time.
The word “love” exists for a reason and it cannot be defined rationally because there are more important regions of our consciousness to be explored. The regions of the heart cannot be expressed in mere words. There is a reality beyond words and all human knowledge which depends on language to express it can only hint at the great mystery of life. There is a place for silence and reverence. There is a place for awe. - Dedicated to my partner Jeannie Kay- Curtis E. Hinkle

To live in a heart one leaves behind is not to die. Je t'aime ma chère Jeannie Kay. Tu vivras toujours au fond de mon coeur. Merci. - Curtis

In Memoriam
Jeannie Kay Mebus Hinkle

Online at:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Intersex – A History of Erasure

by Curtis E. Hinkle

There are no pre-existing male/female categories. Our conceptualizing people as either one or the other is a cultural artifact and the construction of sex/gender/desire within a binary only reinforces the underlying assumptions and hierarchy of power inherent within such a socially constructed system. In the late 19th century, European cultures felt threatened by more and more women speaking out and wanting recognition and also by homosexuals who were becoming more visible. It was a coincidence that medicine had advanced to such a degree that hermaphroditism was beginning to be understood and it was also dawning on physicians that it was not as rare as they had thought. Their reaction to our presence – those of us born with bodies that do not fit into what society views as normal female or male within this arbitrary division of the sexes – was very revealing concerning the desperate attempt of our societies to perpetuate a myth concerning only two sexes. Physicians were being visited by people who had all types of different anatomies – men who menstruated, women who had no wombs, women with beards and penises, men with breasts and wombs, etc.

What was the main preoccupation of these men of science in trying to categorize hermaphrodites within the binary? To them sex/gender/desire were all one and the same thing basically. These categories were not considered three different categories at all as many people do now. To the scientists of that period whom you had sex with was just as much a determinant of your sex as your body. Men were to have sex with women, etc. Hermaphrodites were challenging the heterosexual assumptions that enforced the structure of power and relationships between men and women. The “scientists” were confronted with such disturbing questions as: How do we know if this person is or is not a pervert (besides being a freak)? Hermaphrodites could “trick” innocent people into perverted (same sex) relationships without the person even being aware of it. How do we maintain order, stability and “family” in a society where we admit people who are not male or female? (Doesn’t this sound familiar – “family values”?) WE MAKE THEM DISAPPEAR. And this is what categorizing people as male or female only by their gonads did. No more hermaphrodites, or at lease so few that we could forget about them, and then we are back to our neat little world where there are only two sexes and we can regulate their behavior and their relationships so as to maintain the system with all its inequalities.

The answer that the scientists came up with shows to what degree heteronormative hegemony (compulsory heterosexuality) is fundamental to our culture’s conception of sex, gender and desire. After looking at all different combinations of intersex bodies and debating over which particular aspect of those bodies would determine one’s “true” sex, they finally agreed on just one aspect of the body – gonads (ovaries or testicles). In so doing, the vast majority of people who would have been designated hermaphrodites previously were suddenly not hermaphrodites at all. They had become pseudo-hermaphrodites. This was important because there are supposedly very few people that meet the definition of being a “true” hermaphrodite. Having both an ovary and a testicle is very rare and so is having an ovotestis. This meant that for all intents and purposes, hermaphrodites had been erased as a real sex category and the neat little construct of just two sexes was kept intact. You were a woman if you had ovaries, regardless that you might not have a vagina and no breasts and a beard. You were a man if you had testicles even if you had a vagina, breasts and could not grow a beard.

Today we go even further. We do not just come up with new definitions to eliminate intersex people, we alter their bodies – making them physically invisible. This is one of the most tragic symbols of human oppression and the medico-legal collusion with political agendas to make sure we have no voice – no face – no existence. Only by challenging the foundations of the binary categories can intersex people have a voice, be part of humanity. In so doing, our mission is not to form another identity movement but to work for the improvement of humankind in general. The current system is mutilating us all.

No group or authority or individual should have the right to define, limit or determine who is and who is not intersex. That is up to the individual. We don’t need more police to enforce rigid categories which already divide us. We in the intersex movement are working to be part of humankind, to be persons with full human rights. We are working to end the oppression of gender apartheid and gender mutilation of all humankind and make a place for all of us who identify outside the binary.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

OII's Statement of Dissent

OII is working to end NON-CONSENSUAL normalisation treatments of intersex children and adults without consultation with the individual intersexed person.

We oppose all consensus statements, especially those without representation of intersex people as equal stakeholders in the consensus.

We have no desire for any consensus statement because intersex people do not agree on:

  • the exact definition of intersex
  • what treatments are appropriate for all intersex people
  • what gender assignment, if any, is appropriate for all the different intersex variations
  • pathological definitions of our bodies and identities

OII is working in favour of human rights for individuals affected by intersex variations and therefore is opposed to all attempts to impose definitions, treatments and terminology on all people with bodies which do not meet the current standards for male or female.

Consensus statements imply that there is consent. We dissent!

This is on OII's website:

Click here

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Queer feminist perspective

A queer feminist perspective on intersex activism based on my experience of sexist and racist separatist movements
One thing I think is essential is that everyone be able to express their own opinions openly and honestly and that each intersexed person be free to work for human rights from the perspective that best fits with their own personal experience and understanding of who they are. I want to share my own perspective and it is only my perspective.
I do not find identity politics and defining people by particular reductionist and essentialist definitions as the best way politically to work toward human rights and this is the reason that I have been a queer feminist and resisted both sexism and racism. I find that the way identity movements are constructed that they are essentially sexist and encourage separatism.
I have issues with separatist movements. This essay is not a critique of the LGBT movement per se but of the white separatist movement that I experienced in the region of the United States where I spent a lot of my childhood, Louisiana. This state has a long history of white separatism and in order to entrench this separatism into Louisiana's state laws, there had to be a definition of what a white person was and what a black person was. The solution was to define anyone who was not able to prove they were totally white as:
quadroons, octoroons and even quintroons. This was true until the 80's and all legal documentation had to reflect this. All quadroons, octoroons and quintroons had to have Black on their legal documentation
It can prove quite difficult to take a large population, regardless of the characteristic chosen to separate them, and come up with workable definitions that do not stigmatize people or which can actually divide all people into the categories proposed, especially if there are only two categories.
To me as an intersex person, I understand the sexual apartheid system with male/female legal categories as an equivalent to the racial apartheid system and the underlying political reasons for such a legal separation as somewhat analogous.
I think most people would agree that the system I just described in Louisiana is racist.
My questions are:
Are the separatist divisions posited as good within the LGBT identity movement not sexist?
Are there ethical reasons for perpetuating sexism?
As an example, what does it really mean when a parent of an intersex child is told to raise the child as a girl? To me that is sexist because the notion of "girl" carries stereotypical connotations not essentially derived just from her body which in this case was not a typically female body to begin with.
My family is biracial. If a doctor told us to raise a child as black or white, I would personally interpret that as racist.
Are racism and sexism ethically justified in some cases and if so, when and for what reasons?
I have yet to find ethical justifications for perpetuating racism and sexism as particularly helpful for human rights for all people. Someone will always be excluded and categorized as the "other" as a result of such imposed boundaries.
Now, concerning the separatism within the LGBT movement, I feel that that all separatist movements are another way that oppressed groups perpetuate oppression and divert energy, which is through the policing function necessary to make sure that the borders of "us" and "them" remain clearly bounded. It is the people who fall into the borders/liminal spaces who become the new oppressed minority within such separatist groups. And, as seems endemic, as the definitions of the identity change in response to political changes within the group, and as individuals change and grow in the fluidity of an examined life, membership in the group requires a scramble to prove one still qualifies. Policing and proving membership come to replace activism as the focus of the group. This is what I feel has happened within the intersex community. Policing and defining became the actual focus and we ended up with a intersex being redefined as a genetic defect – DSD or Disorder of Sex Development.
The enforcement of static identity is why I believe that separatisms seem to do more harm than good, particularly around an inherently fluid aspect of life such as sexuality, but even "race" is fluid and culture-dependent for its definition, and policing of racial borders has certainly been an aspect of racial separatist groups with whose histories I am acquainted. Through this insistence on a static allegiance to a particular identity, human growth is curtailed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Intersex Solidarity Day - November 8

Intersex Solidarity Day - November 8
Herculine Barbin’s Birthday

The Organisation Intersex International would like to invite others to join us each year by commemorating November 8 as Intersex Solidarity Day. All human rights organizations, feminist allies, academics and gender specialists, as well as other groups and individuals interested in intersex human rights, are invited to show their solidarity by organizing workshops, lectures, discussions and other activities which deal with any or all of the following topics:
  • the life of Herculine Barbin
  • intersex normalisation treatments without consent
  • the violence of the binary sex and gender system
  • the sexism implicit within the binary construct of sex and gender
Please show your solidarity with the intersex community. Intersex rights are humans rights. Also, please sign our petition:

If you would like to announce your activity on our website, please contact us.
You can contact us at:

Sunday, September 28, 2008


We in OII firmly reject the idea that our sex is a disorder and we therefore reject the pathological definition of our sex as a “disorder of sex development” or DSD. The real danger and disorders are the racism and sexism which are developing eugenic ideologies and technologies to deal with what are social problems. Instead of empowering and valuing people born with sex variations, the solution is to eliminate us.

Open discussions about the abuse of power by those who control the definitions is one important way to confront the real problem - eugenics, Euro-centric racism and male patriarchal models of power which are at risk of collapse if the current binary male/female dichotomies are not firmly held as sacrosanct.

We in OII do not accept the current male/female binary categories imposed on all people in most countries as sacrosanct and hope that others will help us confront the political agenda of those who would eliminate us.

For more information: Click here