We would love to thank Sam for their inspiring and creative art work that has helped us share and tell the intersex story.

"Sam Orchard is committed to building a world where our many differences and complexities are celebrated. Sam writes comics, essays and children’s books, creates animated videos, podcasts, resources and social media campaigns with this aim.

Sam’s comics and resources about sexuality, sex and gender have been used by NZ Human Rights Commission, the Asia Pacific Trans Network, the Intersex Trust of New Zealand, Gender Minorities, and internationally by SOGISC advocates."

 

 

Georgia Andrews

ITANZ Givealittle Fundraiser Launch!

ITANZ is a charitable trust that provides education, information and training on intersex issues for organisations and individual people. ITANZ is now seeking donations to ensure we can continue doing this important work.

If you can donate head to our givealittle page here:

https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/intersex-trust-aotearoa-nz?fbclid=IwAR2B31bvspJ-15ghrLQGgnjGDjpr2iVZTo6iPu_bn6SrlCiuceZ8T_NGlsU

By donating you can help:

• Cover immediate operational costs

• Maintain the Intersex Youth Aotearoa online presence

• Develop resources and training materials relevant to Aotearoa

• Attend relevant conference and hui to raise awareness for intersex issues

 

Kia Ora Folks!

 

ITANZ is stepping into 2019 with a bounce! We are welcoming Georgia to Wellington permanently for a new exciting role as the Rainbow and Inclusion Adviser at Victoria University of Wellington. Georgia's relocation to Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara compliments the move at the last ITANZ AGM to appoint Georgia as Chairperson of the board. Mani is stepping into the Executive Director position. These changes recognise with great joy that we have a greater capacity of intersex folks to hold more governance roles. Speaking of which, the newest member of the board Jelly O'Shea has agreed to step into the Communications Project Manager role. She comes with a wealth of knowledge in this area and is excited to bring greater intersexy awareness to Aotearoa. 

This year we at ITANZ will be updating you regularly through our this website and our facebook page with all the amazing work that were are doing. So keep an eye out!

Aroha to all our allies and intersexy friends.

 

26 October is Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) 2017 – A statement from ITANZ & introducing a new resource for Aotearoa.

Intersex Awareness Day  2017 (IAD 2017) highlights the progress of intersex led organisations in Aotearoa and around the world. On IAD 2017 the Intersex Trust of Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ) are proud to present our new resource; ‘All about Intersex’.

In Aotearoa we have vocal and passionate intersex people who are working within their own communities and with each other, educating, sharing their stories and integrating the experiences intersex people face day to day. ITANZ are developing new relationships to further improve access to health care and other every day social needs. This resource aims to further enhance the communities understanding of intersex people and improve the health and well-being for intersex people in Aotearoa.

Both individuals and organisations have stood beside ITANZ over the past 12 months and together we have learnt new language, process and shared our stories through resources, conferences, hui and media. Thank you for standing beside us, listening and teaching together. May we all enjoy and celebrate IAD 2017 together.

‘All about Intersex’, the resource is included as part of a package of resources available through the I’m Local Project and on the Intersex Youth Aotearoa and ITANZ websites. This resource is aimed at young people and their whanau, guardians or families nationally. We were elated to work with the artist Sam Orchard and RainbowYOUTH to develop this resource. We also want to thank InterACT and Pidgeon Pagonis for their inspiring information and ideas. You can see a video produced by RainbowYOUTH here for IAD 2017. We also want to especially thank Dr Elizabeth Kerekere who has featured in the ‘All about Intersex’ resource. We appreciate the care you take to stand alongside and support intersex people and their whanāu.

Alongside the development of our newest resource over the past year ITANZ has:

  • developed submissions with the support of HRC NZ for the United Nations, with resulting recommendations for the NZ government, including:
    • implement a child rights-based health care protocol for intersex children that guarantees the rights to bodily integrity and self-determination
    • investigate incidents of surgical and other medical treatment of intersex children without informed consent, and provide redress
    • educate professionals on biological and physical sexual diversity and consequences of unnecessary interventions on children
    • provide free access to surgical intervention and treatment related to their intersex condition for intersex children
  • Been involved in the second Intersex Round Table with selected health professionals and human rights experts nationally
  • Attended the first Australasian Intersex Conference in March 2017, Sydney Australia, culminating in the ‘Darlington Statement’.
  • Attended the ilga World Conference in November 2016, Bangkok Thailand, with Tiwhanawhana and RainbowYOUTH to support the successful bid for the 2019 Ilga World Conference being held in Wellington.
  • Human Rights Watch – I Want to Be Like Nature Made Me
  • Upcoming events
  • IAD 2017 Wellington – Dealing with Difference a talk with Mani Mitchell Friday October 27th, 12 noon – 1pm at Wellington Central Library.
  • 2019 Ilga World Conference being held in Wellington March 2019.
  • Nov 11-12 2017 Auckland - AISSG Intersex Support Conference New Zealand

All media enquiries please Contact:

Mani Mitchell – Executive Director of ITANZ

mani.mitchell@xtra.co.nz

0272812221

Kia ora everyone

I promised myself that this weekend I would write something for the web site. I said last year that I was going to write lots. Then the words dried up. I thought it was because I had nothing to say, but only recently, I have realised it actually was a word/feeling logjam. Every time I figured something out, new things would crash in, events in the world, things going on in my own life, challenges, and I would get ‘lost’ making sense of the new, trying to work out how to skilfully add it meaningfully to the ‘old’.

I took some time out over the holidays, during this break, a colleague died suddenly, someone I liked and drew significant inspiration. (His death was an event/shock that leads introspection, to a going deep inside, a search for meaning. Well it did for me.) As a result I have realised that the torrents of ‘water/events’, are not going to stop. It’s a chaotic rapidly changing time on planet earth, it’s the new real and all of us are going to need how to keep healthy, caring for the planet and clear, in heart and spirit, fighting for justice and chance and challenging those who wish us harm and silence.

Today in Aotearoa New Zealand its Waitangi Day, in America super bowl, and somehow today Mr Trump rang our prime minister…. I hold all that alongside the wonderful facts that in the last two weeks… we have had more positive visibility and exposure on intersex than at ANY other time. Thank you interACT and 29-Year-Old Supermodel Hanne Gaby Odiele, the MANY stories about you have been truly inspirational! THAT combined with the focus in this current issue of National Geographic…. Amongst all the fear and despondency, sense of dread some real HOPE and positivity.

While all this was going on ITANZ has made a new submission to the U.N. We will provide the link to the submission as soon as it is available. I want to thank Aych for pulling our report together. Aych is the ITANZ Human Rights intern and last year travelled to Geneva on a scholarship to learn about the U.N.  Aych will be writing some more here soon about that experience…

As this year unfolds, please look after yourself. It is an important time to be looking after each other and ourselves. If you find yourself with words and you want to share – please write.

More coming soon….

Ngā mihi

Mani

Care for the land, care for people, go forward
Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua

Its been a tough week for many in our community

Lots of us know about hate.
In many and complicated ways.

Sometimes in our families.
Sometimes at school.
Sometimes at church.
The local gym
Our communities.
Bullies.
Other places and people.

Sometimes random strangers who attack for no other reason than they see our difference.
The hate comes in many forms - words - sometimes general and sometimes highly personal.

Hitting.
Violent assault. ..and last week mass murder.

Its time to be really gentle.
To remind us just how amazing, unique and beautiful we are.

To tell ourselves and those we love how precious and important they are.
To call the hate out - for what it is, hate.
To tell ourselves our friends it's NEVER okay.

Find people to talk to.
Do the things Glass heartthat help you feel stronger - safe.
Spend time with people you feel comfortable with.
If its real bad - reach out for help.
And keep going till you find some one who understands.

 

Together we can make a difference.

Mani B Mitchell

A speech at parliament

On Saturday the 5th of March I was invited to participate in an event at parliament to mark and IMG_3826celebrate the 30th Anniversary of homosexual law reform. I am old enough to have been a young activist while homosexuality was still a crime in New Zealand. So for me it was an honour to be asked to speak as an intersex activist, but also to have the chance to acknowledge and thank the gay men who were so much part of my support network in my youth.

This is a copy of the speech I read in the beehive banquet room at the Anniversary event.

Kia ora whanau
Fellow human beings – it is indeed a great privilege and an honour to be with you all tonight…
This country kid from the King Country, a small remote sheep and cattle farm in a valley called Kirikau.

Yes, my name is Mani Bruce Mitchell.  Yes, I am an intersex person.
I am feeling the responsibility for holding this mahi tonight.

I have been since my late teens a ‘queer identified person’ – came out as a young teacher – as a ‘lesbian’ in Whanganui more than 40 years ago.  I was at the time teaching up the river at Rana – would travel down the river road – to the then secret group meetings in Whanganui at Terry and Georges place… I have been wracking my brains. How did I even find this group!!??

No google – no internet – and 'homosexuality' as it was known as then - was a criminal activity. What I do remember is how wonderful, and how important it was to find that group – I felt like I had found family. I remember the warm welcome I got there. I remember also going to functions in Palmerston North – cars splitting up – driving around the block checking to make sure we were not being tailed. The fear, the pragmatism and the plain old fashioned guts that meetings, support and social functions involved in those days.

I remember also the bigotry and hate that surfaced and was given VISIBLE voice during the time leading up to the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform ACT. It is wonderful, and slightly astonishing that tonight we are gathered here, in the bee hive to mark this historic event. To have an opportunity to reflect, to remember all the people that were involved in the process of decriminalisation.

So my own story – 20 years ago – 1996 - I travelled to America to attend the world’s first ever retreat for intersex people – 9 Americans and myself representing the world. At that point I had changed my name to Mani – was identifying as, speaking about being a non binary, queer identified - intersex person. It was this retreat, the people that organised it – that gave birth to the modern intersex ‘movement’.

Before I go further – an explanation – what is intersex?

Intersex is an umbrella term describing people born with variations of internal and/or external sex anatomy resulting in bodies that can’t be classified as the typical male or female. We’re usually taught that sex is merely black and white, “male” or “female,” but that’s simply not true. There are a lot of awesome gray areas in the middle that could make someone intersex!
Prevalence: One in Two thousand live births – or to create a visual image the same number of people who are naturally born red heads…..

As an aside I had brown hair and my three siblings and my mum all had red hair!!
For the last 60 years people who are born – identified intersex have been treated under a pathologising medical model that sees the world in very – black and white no grey ways. A model that has seen us ‘sexed’ and our bodies ‘normalised’ with surgery and or the use of hormones.

For many of us this model has been profoundly traumatizing. Our efforts to significantly change this medical model have thus far been futile. This despite a constant self narrative from intersex people – right across the world of the damage – harm this model does to us as humans – to our families.

The international intersex movement had a major step change in in May 2013 when The world’s 1st International Intersex Organising Forum took place in Brussels September 2011. The historic event brought together 24 activists representing 17 intersex organisations from all continents. The event was organised and funded by ilga The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) is an international organization bringing together more than 750 LGBT and intersex groups from around the world.march 2016 493

It continues to be active in campaigning for LGBT rights and intersex rights on the international human rights and civil rights scene, and regularly petitions the United Nations and governments. ILGA is represented in 110+ countries across the world. ILGA is accredited by the United Nations and has been granted NGO Ecosoc consultative status.

The Forum agreed on the demands aiming to end discrimination against intersex people and to ensure the right of bodily integrity and self-determination: 1. To put an end to mutilating and ‘normalising’ practices such as genital surgeries, psychological and other medical treatments, including infanticide and selective abortion (on the grounds of intersex) in some parts of the world. 2. To insure that the personal, free, prior, and fully informed consent of the intersex individual is a compulsory requirement in all medical practices and protocols. 3. Creating and facilitating supportive, safe and celebratory environments for intersex people, their families and surroundings. This newly established informal network will campaign for the respect of intersex people’s human rights on international, regional and national levels.

These international gatherings have continued – with the last and largest in Malta in 2013 – the forum built on, expanded – clarified the first consensus statement. I want to take a moment and acknowledge that ‘shift change’ moment that ilga created – one in recognising intersex – adding I to the alphabet soup. But more in its determination to NOT speak on behalf of intersex people – rather its commitment and strategy that determined intersex people needed to speak for themselves – more that the voice needed to be globally representative.

We have the current Executive Director of ilga with us here tonight. Renato Sabbadina - Renato is here to attend the first ever ilga Oceania conference which will open at wharewaka on Wednesday evening – Renato it seems somehow very ‘right’ that you are here to witness, be part of this historic human rights event this evening.

Our wonderful conference will be held 9-11 March 2016, at the Otago Medical School in Wellington, (yes the irony is not lost on me!),  I also want to thank Rawa Keretai my fellow ilga oceania board member.  It was Rawa who had the idea to bring our conference to Wellington after the original proposal for Auckland hit an impossible road block.1936246_958000654283625_44537730723047114_n

We had only 8 months to organise the conference out of nothing – no funding – no structure – the fact we have is solely due to extraordinary efforts of the local lgbti community and its allies.
Finally tonight is an honoring celebration. 30 years. I want to make plea that we use this event to launch a renewed vigor and determination to change the things that are NOT right in our community.

I am mental health professional – if you look at the stats even the most privileged members of our community do not reach health equivalency with their cis gendered heterosexual counter parts. Reason discrimination – hate – prejudice – homo – trans phobia minority stress,  does damage! Terrible damage. Go out into the margins – into the less visible – the less recognised supported members of the community and the stats are horrifying.

In our schools we have systemic rates of bullying and lack of support. Very few of our nations schools are safe places for our community – our youth suicide statistics are one brutal indicator.
Our prisons in NZ have never been safe places for our community – that has to change.
We have significant access issues to safe respectful health care in so many areas.

We still operate on tiny intersex infants and make their genitals look ‘normal’ The medical model continues to believe in the binary construction of gender. There is still inadequate lgbti training – diversity awareness, – basic information BEST PRACTICE/POLICY in many of our major government institutions…

In fact in some areas in recent years – I would suggest we have gone backwards.
Yes – there have been gains I acknowledge that.
But they are not enough.
We can’t – must not stop.mani

The lgbti community as a whole represents some 12% of the population – we have nowhere near access to 12% of the nation’s resources.

The reform work must go on. We have people in our community actually dying. People with no sense they belong or access to safe healthy housing, work, a sense of trust, of feeling safe, free from violence, being heard, valued, respected or have any hope for a dignified – purposeful life – or a sense of the future.

Its not time to go home yet..
There is lots to be angry about, disappointed and frustrated with.
There is work to do – LOTS of work to do
Thank you
Ngā mihi nui

Mani B Mitchell

Some of the very amazing intersex youth
Some of the very amazing intersex youth

To all our friends and visitors to this web site greetings. If you are a regular visitor I apologise for the lack of new content. Last year was one of those ‘hard ones’ for me, I had to battle with some pretty significant health issues. I plan to talk more about these things in another update, for now know I am doing okay, and learning lots about the medical complications that many of us need to deal with as adults.

2016 is huge and significant for ITANZ. Twenty years ago I traveled to America to attend the first ever residential retreat for intersex people. Ten people, some of our lovers and friends gathered to share and talk. The powerful documentary ‘Hermaphrodites Speak’ was one of the tangible results of that amazing weekend.

Setting up the interACT display
Setting up the interACT display

This year I had the extraordinary pleasure of being back in America and meeting up with some of the people who were also at that first retreat. So much has happened since that historic gathering. We have, finally an international community of activism and support. In part thanks to to the work that ilga did in funding and supporting the international intersex forums.

We, intersex people have a visible presence in places like the United Nations, The World Health Organisation.

The interACT display
The interACT display

There is increased visibility and information. A beautiful example of change was this year being at the January - Creating Change Conference in Chicago – The conference had a very strong intersex youth presence…
We might not yet have changed the medical model – what we have done though is ensure that youth do not need to grow up as lonely and as isolated that most of us did in previous decades. Thank you interACT and the Arcus Foundation

Organisations are established in so many countries.

The Arcus Foundation intersex Forum – intersex activists from around the world.
The Arcus Foundation intersex Forum – intersex activists from around the world.

There is international funding now to support this work. (Thank you Astraea Foundation)

A small number of countries around the world have moved to provide protection and support for intersex people and their families.

On the negative side of the ledger the medical model remains largely unchanged and unchallenged. The model locked in outmoded thinking around binary gender and gender identity, notions of normalcy, sexuality, mental health, autonomy, and bodily integrity.

With fellow Chicago intersex activist Lynnell Stephani Long.
With fellow Chicago intersex activist Lynnell Stephani Long.

As it is our Anniversary year we plan to post regularly here, covering both significant events form the last twenty years… as well as looking forward to the future… meet you back here soon.

Mani Bruce Mitchell

Monday October 26th is another Intersex Awareness Day, and thanks to various people, including Pidge it is going to be bigger and brighter than previous years!

This year the Intersex Trust of Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ) will join activists around the globe to take part in the Intersex Awareness Day Twitterstorm. Our community members, family, friends and allies are welcome to join us in the international action on Tuesday October 27th from 2pm-3pm, storming the social media with a specific #hashtag which will trend starting at 2pm on October 27th. Note this #hashtag needs to not be used prior to the event in order to create a ‘trend’.

ITANZ have set up a Facebook event, hosted by Intersex Youth Aotearoa, TWITTERSTORM Intersex Awareness Day 2015 (Worldwide)

Our aim is to link activists in Aotearoa to the global action, you might have an organization or movement that would like to join the action, information about the promotion of this event is available at pidgeonismyname and relevant imagery is available at intersexday.org or the facebook event page where you can sign up, or link to the cause hosted on thunderclap!

Betsy Driver
Betsy Driver

To learn more about the history of Intersex Awareness Day you can read the article kindly shared with us by Betsy Driver titled, ‘The Origins of Intersex Awareness Day’. Betsy shares the intimate beginnings of this movement which started with the intention of sharing stories and finding voices.

A perspective from Aotearoa.

Here is a story from Mani Bruce Mitchell, the Executive Director of ITANZ, sharing some thoughts on the significance of Intersex Awareness Day 2015.

Awareness poster Mani

Intersex Awareness day this year is significant. As I sit writing these words my thoughts tumble backwards over the last 25 years. Back to when, I first tried to make sense of my own realty and discovered for the first time, the word intersex; because up until my doctor gave me a medical text book called ‘Intersex’ I had only the word my mother had used, ‘hermaphrodite”. Yes, that word exposes my age! An outmoded, anachronistic, term that is now considered offensive as well as inaccurate.

So that’s how I found out about me, a medical text book, highly pathological text, with many images of naked people standing, often against grids, eyes blacked out and ‘deformities’ described in great detail. Not a very healthy way to start the journey, yet it was profound because there were other people like me! All those shadowy, fear filled memories of my childhood started slowly to make sense.

Role forward some 8 years. I had come ‘out’ as an intersex person, I had started ITANZ. I was doing lots of media interviews. I was contacted by Rebecca Swan, an accomplished photographer in the last year of her fine arts degree. Rebecca was creating a series of photographs exploring gender; outside the traditional binary limits.

We entered into a journey that for me was to become transformative, an owning and a reclaiming of my stolen self/body. As we talked Rebecca was reminded of images by a French photographer, Ernest J. Bellocq.   These photograph’s negatives had been scratched violating the image underneath. I could see the parallel with my violated and scratched self in Bellocq’s photographs. Rebecca and I worked all day. The experience of being photographed took me back to my birth, and I felt a reclaiming, a renaming, an owning of the body I had ‘lost’ to one that is mine today. Yes my body is scratched and violated. All that was done to me. I do not claim the violation or scratching as ‘mine’. Out of over 50 pictures we selected three. I got given the negatives and ‘scratched’ them myself.

The photographs are in a stunning book, ‘Assume Nothing’, which went on to be part of a nationally toured exhibition with an associated workshop delivered by the Human Rights Commission of NZ. This process was also documented by Kirsty McDonald in the film ‘Black and White’ which describes in detail the working collaboration between Rebecca and myself.

As Pidge so beautifully says:

Intersex children are not things to be fixed, we are radiance to be revered.”

I found a place to stand with the body I was born with and the scratched body it became. Beneath the scratches there is a radiance that is pure, that is not damaged that is all of me.

I publically thank Rebecca for that extraordinary gift. I am sorry that the image used recently in the Intersex Awareness Day publicity, which was one part of a triptych from the ‘Assume Nothing’ publication, upset so many. Its meaning is so easily lost and will be triggering for many.

It is my wish that on this year’s Intersex Awareness Day we celebrate being intersex in all the glorious diversity that it is. That we say to the world that this barbaric concept of ‘fixing/normalizing’ needs to stop. That parents be supported to love their intersex children and consider what Dr Arlene Baratz so beautifully suggests:

If there is a secret to raising healthy children, it is to accept and focus on what they are, instead of what they’re not. Changes happening everywhere challenge us. Reimagine intersex, not as disease, but as a way of living in the world. It is time for clinicians and families to develop a mutual understanding that “our diversity – the differences between our experiences and perspectives, as well as the shapes of our bodies – is something that we should celebrate and protect, in all its forms.”

Thank you, the International intersex family. All the intersex activists now and in the past who have worked so hard, including:

ILGA, John Keir, Grant Lahood, Rebecca Swan, Kirsty McDonald, NZ Human Rights Commission, all allies, Funders and Supporters, the ITANZ board (past and present), all my friends, and my ‘blood’ family – my parents Ruth and Douglas Laird (you two got a very rough hand, and I wish you had lived long enough to know there was a different ‘love’ visible, a new way).

With much hermish love,

Mani Bruce Mitchell.