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"Intermediate" Sex on Passports

it's still based on genital shape

Forum: WMST-L
Date: 01/19/2003

On 01/19/2003 09:12 am, "Hannah Miyamoto" wrote:

Since many members teach a course about gender, I decided to share this new development from Australia [snip] The Australian state of Victoria was persuaded a while ago to issue birth certificates to adults of "Indeterminate" sex, and now Australia has issued a passport listing for a person of "indeterminate" sex. [snip] Incidentally, one of my intersexed friends (46XX, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia) was once told by the EEOC that "he" (as he identifies himself) could not bring a sexual harassment complaint against a male co-worker because he had no sex! If you don't have a sex, the reasoning went, you aren't human!

If this is the case I'm thinking about, which I'm pretty sure it is, your description is inaccurate. He claimed that he was harassed on the job after coming out as "intersexed"--although his co-workers may have viewed him simply as transgendered since he transitioned from female to male--and attemped to bring a sexual harassment case on the basis of sex discrimination, arguing that his intersexuality made him a member of the third sex which is protected from discrimination on the basis of sex. EEOC rejected the argument, since U.S. laws only recognises males and females, and as such one is not protected from discrimination on the basis of sex simply for claiming to be neither.

However, he was able to bring the charge under "disability." I concur with the EEOC's interpretation on this matter: CAH clearly qualifies as a disability under the ADA--which excludes transsexuality ("gender identity disorder"), thanks to the Helmes Amendment, but does not exclude intersexuality. As I understand it, he later dropped the case.

In the future, I would like to see the laws changed to allow "X" designation on IDs, if not the abolishing of "sex" on them altogether, but such designations need to be made on the basis of one's identity, rather than hir biological status. Somehow I do not feel that giving intersex people (and not others) the option of having "X" on their ID does very much to challenge the idea that we are what our genitals tell us what we are.

Emi Koyama
Intersex Initiative Portland

-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.