• Hanne Gaby Odiele attends the 2016 CFDA Fashion Awards at the Hammerstein Ballroom on June 6, 2016 in New York City. (FilmMagic / Getty Images / Taylor Hill)Source: FilmMagic / Getty Images / Taylor Hill
“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."
Stephanie Marie Anderson

24 Jan 2017 - 1:25 PM  UPDATED 24 Jan 2017 - 1:25 PM

In a video filmed for USA Today, fashion model Hanne Gaby Odiele has come out as intersex, saying that she wants to fight the stigma around being intersex.

"Hi, I'm Hanne, and I was born intersex," she says in the clip. "This means, my body isn't clearly male or female."

She continues: "Intersex isn't that rare, we're almost 2% of the population. It's similar to the population that is born with red hair. Still, most people don't know we exist."

Hanne goes on to say that the cause of this erasure is "unconsented, unnecessary, and irreversible surgeries, that cause way more harm than they do good."

"Intersex people should be able to make their own choices about their bodies," she says. "I'm speaking out because it's time this mistreatment comes to an end. It's caused me way too much pain. I'm proud to support InterACT, as we fight to protect kids from suffering the same way I did."

How intersex people are still being harmed by unnecessary surgeries
"Parents and doctors still far too often put social investment into normalising the appearance of genitals above the needs of the infant or child," writes Emily McAvan.

Speaking to USA Today, the Vogue model says that it's "very important" to her to help "break the taboo" around being intersex, adding: “At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this."

“I have reached a point in my life where I feel ready to share this important part of who I am,” she says.

Hanne reveals that she had surgery at age 10 to remove her internal, undescended testicles after her parents were told that if she didn't, Hanne “might develop cancer... and not develop as a normal, female girl.”

Now, she's determined to put an end to these surgeries.

“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." 

“I am proud to be intersex,” she says, “but very angry that these surgeries are still happening.”

Hanne has teamed up with organisation interACT, who couldn't be more thrilled to have her on board to help raise awareness around intersex issues like unnecessary surgeries. In a statement, they said: 

“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.”

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