ADDED ON: 11/27/2021

UNM Sociology Professor Takes Part In White House Intersex Awareness Event

11/26/21 | The Paper

Associate Professor Georgiann Davis from the Department of Sociology at The University of New Mexico was an invited speaker at a recent virtual roundtable event with the White House to commemorate Intersex Awareness Day and discuss the treatment of intersex people. The White House Office of Public Engagement’s event panel included Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine, co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council Jen Klein, and other representatives from the administration. Intersex advocates at the meeting said while they appreciated the historic moment, they want to see action. Davis said the listening session was significant because the White House has never convened a meeting of such scale to hear about the lived experiences of intersex people directly from intersex people. Intersex is used to describe a body that is neither typically male nor typically female, Davis explained. “For example, folks like me who were born with completely androgen insensitivity syndrome—which is one of many different intersex traits—have an outward female appearance, but inside, instead of ovaries, a uterus, fallopian tubes, and XX chromosomes, were born with undescended testes and XY chromosomes.” When Davis was a teenager, her doctors discovered that she possessed XY chromosomes, marking her as intersex. Rather than share this information with her, they withheld the diagnosis in order to “protect” the development of her gender identity, according to her biography. It was years before Davis would see her own medical records as an adult and learn the truth. The advocates at the White House event called attention to how medical providers react to an intersex diagnosis and perform medical procedures on intersex children. “The surgeries that are performed are cosmetic and meant to squeeze people into the sex binary,” Davis said, adding, “Intersex is viewed as a problem by those who buy into the fallacy of binary sex ideologies. Sex is a multifaceted spectrum and not the neat binary that we are problematically taught to believe by many corners of society.”

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