Campaigners are marking Intersex Awareness Day, which is taking place on Friday.
It first started on 26 October 1996 by the Intersex Society of North America in Boston.
Activists took part in a protest outside a conference by the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) because at the time some doctors were advocating infant genital surgery on intersex kids in order to make them more ‘normal’.
Some of those protesting had been subjected to similar surgery when they too were infants.
In a statement, the International Lesbian and Gay Association in Europe (ILGA-Europe) said:
“This day is a great opportunity for the raising of awareness on intersex issues, generate greater understanding, and a call for the elaboration of human rights in respect to intersex people.
“The foundation of all discrimination suffered by intersex people lies in the fact that our society is based on a legal and cultural binary sex model. This system negates the existence of intersex people.
The statement added: “Within it, intersex bodies are ‘normalised’ through cosmetic surgical and medical interventions in order for them to be aligned to one or the other legally recognised sexes”.
Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA) released a statement in support of International Intersex Awareness Day earlier this week and said:
“TIA believes that this day is a great opportunity to break the silence and stop the ignorance about the existence of the intersex community in South Africa”.