Vogue model Hanne Gaby Odiele calls for more people to come out as intersex
Fashion model Hanne Gaby Odiele earlier this year become one of the most high profile celebrities to come out as intersex, and has now called for more people to do the same.
The 29-year-old made the announcement on USA Today last month as she committed to fighting intolerance and ignorance around being intersex.
She says the decision to come out is in a bid to “help end such abuses”.
Now, speaking ahead of New York Fashion Week, she says more people should come out as intersex in order to forge a communal identity.
“It is time for intersex people to come out of the shadows, claim our status, let go of shame and speak out against the unnecessary and harmful surgeries many of us were subjected to as children,” she tells NBC.
“I was always told there was something wrong with my bladder, so I really didn’t know,” Odiele adds.
She has undergone surgery, and takes hormone replacement therapy drugs.
“It is a very poorly understood condition,” she continues.
“Before we can change the hearts and minds of policy makers and the medical community, we need to have a better understanding in general society.”
The former Vogue model married her husband, fellow model John Swiatek, last year.
“I have reached a point in my life where I feel ready to share this important part of who I am,” Odiele said on coming out last month.
“It is time for intersex people to come out of the shadows, claim our status, let go of shame, and speak out against the unnecessary and harmful surgeries many of us were subjected to as children.
“Intersex children born today are still at risk for these human rights violations.
“I will use my voice and platform to help end such abuses.”
Intersex people are born with internal or external anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of ‘female’ or ‘male’.
Nearly 2% of the population are born with intersex traits.
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Campaign group interACT has welcome the news, saying: “We congratulate Hanne for her courage in sharing her intersex status with the world”.
“We are extremely grateful to have her join interACT’s efforts in strongly advocating for the protection of intersex children from harmful medical treatment and surgery.
“Hanne is a beloved fashion model who has achieved global success in her industry.
“She also happens to be intersex and understands firsthand the harm caused by unnecessary medical intervention routinely done to ‘fix’ intersex children.
“Using her passion, her voice and her notoriety, she will undoubtedly further the cause of protecting intersex youth, and help put an end to the human rights violations far too many have suffered.”