Chat date intersex
Burk remembered being a “deer in the headlights,” entirely unsure how to respond.
Now Burk has a position: He suggests parents should focus on chromosomes and not push for surgery to make their children’s anatomy “fit in with the norm.” Burk refers to research about intersex children who have grown up and struggled with their parents’ surgical decisions.
The color scheme is an unwitting commentary on the “pink is for girls” stereotype—a funny backdrop, she says, laughing, for the subject at hand.
In the new landscape of sex and gender—in a world where trans and gay rights have made incredible strides—intersex is perhaps the last taboo.
(Australia has on all its official government forms the categories male, female, and “X.”) Keenan herself has supported blurring the line between the intersex condition and self-imposed gender identity—she was the second person to obtain the gender status of “non-binary” in California, where she lives. Toby Adams, Keenan’s lawyer, founded the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, “the first legal organization in the United States to address the right of non-binary adults to gender-self-identify on legal documents.” But the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA)—the main American advocacy group for children born with these kinds of conditions—doesn’t agree with applying the non-binary label to intersex children.
About 1 in 80,000 babies is born with this condition, called Swyer syndrome.
Odiele is now 28 years old, a model who has walked runways from Chanel to Givenchy to Prada and starred in campaigns for clients including Mulberry and Balenciaga.
She is telling me all this over an early-afternoon glass of champagne in a Nolita restaurant where the bubble gum–pink decor matches her fuzzy Acne Studios sweater.
When Hanne Gaby Odiele was two weeks old, she developed an infection. The blood tests revealed that their child had a condition known as androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS)—while she was genetically male, with one X and one Y chromosome, she was resistant to male hormones, or androgens.
Her parents took her to the hospital near their native Kortrijk, Belgium; the doctors did some blood work—and then they informed Franke and Annie Termote that their little boy was going to be just fine. Hanne was born with internal testes, and without a uterus or ovaries.