Model Hanne Gaby Odiele Speaks Out About Being Intersex In Powerful Statement
And calls for people to stop operating on kids just because they have non-binary bodies.
Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele was already a fearless badass - she wore fashion crocs on the runway for crying out loud - but she's made an extremely powerful statement for intersex people everywhere this week after speaking out about her life with the condition.
Disclosing that she is intersex in a new interview, Hanne explains via USA Today that she was born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which means you are genetically male but may have genitals that are female or somewhere between male and female, and wanted to speak out "in an effort to be true to herself and spotlight an often invisible human rights issue."
"It is very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo," Hanne says. “At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this."
Hanne had surgery at age 10 to remove undescended testicles after warnings from doctors they could cause cancer. At 18, she had surgery to reconstruct her vagina.
While many of the 1.7% of the world's population who are intersex choose to keep the condition private, Hanne, who has modelled for the likes of Alexander Wang, Dio and Chanel, says she also felt the need to speak out to highlight the often invasive surgeries that intersex people endure because of society's traditional fear of non-binary bodies.
These surgeries aren't necessarily done because of true medical need, more to make intersex people 'fit in' with binary expectations, which Hanne explains can be extremely distressing, especially when you are young. Instead she's urging people to embrace intersex bodies for their own unique beauty.
“I am proud to be intersex, but very angry that these surgeries are still happening,” Hanne explains. “It’s not that big of a deal being intersex. If they were just honest from the beginning … it became a trauma because of what they did.”
Asked if she has a message for young intersex people by i-D, Hanne adds: "I want to tell intersex youth to 'just be you!' Be proud of who you are, and get informed and connect with other intersex people. It's important to find other intersex people that you can communicate with, as it was so helpful to me growing up.
"What better way to remove the negative stigma that there is 'no one else like you.' I want them to know that they can be whoever they want to be, even walk the runway!"
Last month New York City issued the first ever intersex birth certificate to 55-year-old Sara Kellly Keegan. While it's an awesome step, it's clear there's still a long way to go for intersex rights.
Now how about watching a video of guys and girls trying to guess what weird sex toys are for? Ok then...