Mapping the Lived Experiences of Intersex/Variations of Sex Characteristics in Ireland

Kudos to Tanya, Maria, Mel and Anthony at DCU for finalising and publishing this invaluable report in such unprecedented times. It is hoped the finding will lay the groundwork to improve the lived experiences of those not yet diagnosed and all others who have gone unnoticed or have not been able to find resources and appropriate medical care for their particular needs.

This study is the first of its kind in Ireland that sheds light on what it means to be intersex/born with a variation in one’s sex characteristics. No data set like this previously existed that would facilitate our thinking about how to interrogate aspects of Irish life and society that adversely affect the lives of those born with variations in their sex characteristics. The findings demonstrate that intersex people/those born with VSC are a hidden, vulnerable and extraordinarily diverse and resilient group.

The interview participants are all over forty and their stories document lived experiences of struggling to understand who they are, negative experiences of childhood healthcare, trauma, and attempts at advocacy as they navigate Irish officialdom through health, education and life more generally. In many incidences, the law is not on their side as they seek meaningful and holistic care that is not delivered through rigid adherence to the male-female binary way of thinking about bodies or as they try to learn about themselves in order to assemble a coherent self-concept. There is much room for improvement in terms of health, education and law and the survey participants attest to this also.

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