Hanne Gaby Odiele, a 29-year old fashion model, has fearlessly declared that she is intersex. She wanted the world to know that she owns her sexual orientation and also spoke out against correctional surgeries. The declaration comes six months after tying the knot with boyfriend, John Swiatek, in an extravagant wedding.
What is Intersex?
The term “intersex” refers to a person who is born with a sexual anatomy or reproductive system that does not cater to the definition of either purely male or female. In other words, a woman may lack a vaginal hole or possess a protruding clitoris that looks like a penis. Similarly, a man may have a smaller-than-usual penis or a scrotum that is divided to form labia.
According to ISNA, such a rarity occurs under the influence of mosaic genetics, which prevents the predomination of either the XX or the XY chromosome. But what many might not be aware of is the fact that intersex is socially manufactured. It simply puts a name to anything that falls even slightly outside the anatomical boundaries of a specific gender.
However, most of the people with this unusual condition can enjoy normal sex life, barring a few. An intersex man, who had chosen to live as a woman from the age of nine confessed in an interview with Cosmopolitan that he had found it hard to get intimate with a partner of either gender. Fortunately, he had found a bisexual woman who understood her sexual state and loved him for who he was.
Odiele’s Body Positive Message
Hanne Gaby Odiele was born with a rare intersex trait known as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS). She was born with internal testicles and she was compelled to undergo testes removal surgery at the age of 10. “I might develop cancer and I would not develop as a normal, female girl,” she told USA Today.
As a champion for Intersex Youth, a non-profit organization that advocate for the intersex community, Odiele condemns all non-consensual medical procedures that children in today’s day and age have to go through to “fix” themselves. The U.N. and W.H.O. have already tagged these procedures as human right violations. So it would be easier for Odiele to get her humanitarian message across to the world.
John Swiatek: ‘I am proud of Odiele’
“I think her (Odiele’s) speaking out, having her voice added to the mix is going to culturally raise awareness in the mainstream,” says Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of interACT Advocates for Intersex Youth. Zieselman also thanked the LGBT movement for laying grounds for the intersex community to seek acceptance in the society. She goes on to add that gender transformation surgery should only be conducted after the concerned individual becomes an adult. Otherwise an intersex person cannot fully weigh in on the benefits and dangers of such procedures.
Odiele’s husband, John Swiatek, is aware of her condition and her decision to come out into the open regarding it. He said that he is proud of her advocating for intersex children to let them have the “opportunity to make up their own minds about their bodies”. According to Models, her husband is also a fashion model who has appeared on the cover of Alexander Wang Men’s Fashion Week Lookbook. The couple made headlines when they shared pictures of their high fashion, fairy-tale wedding on social media, last year.