Send to

Choose Destination
Reprod Health Matters. 2016 May;24(47):74-84. doi: 10.1016/j.rhm.2016.06.003. Epub 2016 Jul 12.

The human rights of intersex people: addressing harmful practices and rhetoric of change.

Author information

Founder, Intersex Day Project; Co-chair, Organisation Intersex International Australia Limited. Electronic address:


Intersex people and bodies have been considered incapable of integration into society. Medical interventions on often healthy bodies remain the norm, addressing perceived familial and cultural demands, despite concerns about necessity, outcomes, conduct and consent. A global and decentralised intersex movement pursues simple core goals: the rights to bodily autonomy and self-determination, and an end to stigmatisation. The international human rights system is responding with an array of new policy statements from human rights institutions and a handful of national governments recognising the rights of intersex people. However, major challenges remain to implement those statements. Human rights violations of intersex individuals persist, deeply embedded in a deliberate history of silencing. Rhetoric of change to clinical practices remain unsubstantiated. Policy disjunctions arise in a framing of intersex issues as matters of sexual orientation and gender identity, rather than innate sex characteristics; this has led to a rhetoric of inclusion that is not matched by the reality. This paper provides an overview of harmful practices on intersex bodies, human rights developments, and rhetorics of change and inclusion.


disorders of sex development; harmful practices; hermeneutical injustice; human rights; intersex

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center