Intersex is a term used to describe individuals who are born with physical or genetic characteristics that do not fit typical definitions of male or female. These variations can occur in several divergent ways, such as differences in sex chromosomes, gonads, hormone levels, or genitalia.
Intersex traits can result from a variety of genetic and hormonal factors. For example, conditions like Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), 5-alpha reductase deficiency, or variations in sex chromosomes (e.g., XXY instead of XX or XY) can lead to intersex characteristics. It’s important to note that intersex is not the same as being transgender; it refers to variations in an individual’s physical or biological sex characteristics, whereas being transgender is about a person’s gender identity, which may not align with their assigned sex at birth.
Intersex variations are relatively common, occurring in approximately 1 in 1,500 to 1 in 2,000 live births, although the exact prevalence can vary depending on the specific criteria used to define intersex traits. It’s important to respect and support individuals with intersex variations and to provide appropriate medical and psychological care as needed.
Being intersex in Nigeria, as in many other parts of the world, can be challenging due to social, cultural, and legal factors. Nigeria is a country with a diverse population and a mix of religious and cultural beliefs, which can influence how intersex individuals are perceived and treated. Here are some aspects of what it can be like to be intersex in Nigeria:
Lack of Awareness: Many people in Nigeria, including healthcare providers and the general public, may lack awareness and understanding of intersex variations. This can lead to misunderstandings and stigma.
Stigmatization: Intersex individuals in Nigeria face stigmatization, discrimination, and social rejection due to societal expectations of binary gender norms.
Medical Interventions: Some intersex individuals in Nigeria may undergo medical interventions(many as newborns), including surgeries, without informed consent or a clear understanding of the potential long-term consequences.
Legal Issues: Nigeria has not implemented clear legal protections for intersex individuals. As such they may face difficulties in obtaining official documents that accurately reflect their gender, amongst other things.
Cultural Beliefs: Local cultural beliefs and traditions influence how intersex individuals are perceived and treated in their communities. These beliefs can vary widely across Nigeria.
Access to Healthcare: Access to healthcare, particularly specialized care for intersex conditions, is limited in most areas of Nigeria.
Support Networks: There are limited support networks and organizations specifically focused on the rights and well-being of intersex individuals in Nigeria.
Advocacy Efforts: Despite the challenges, there are advocacy efforts in Nigeria and globally to raise awareness about intersex issues and promote the rights and well-being of intersex individuals.
It’s important to recognize that experiences can vary widely among intersex individuals. Efforts to increase awareness, provide support, and protect the rights of intersex people are ongoing, and progress is being made, but there is still work to be done to improve the overall situation for intersex individuals in Nigeria and around the world.
8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Intersex People
- 1 in every 2000 people worldwide is Intersex.
- Being intersex isn’t a disorder, disease or condition.
- Being intersex is not about sexual orientation or gender nonconformity; it is simply a naturally occurring genetic and biological variation in humans.
- Being intersex is not the same as being trans, but both people have similar life experiences.
- The term ‘hermaphrodite’ is regarded as a slur amongst most of the intersex community and should never be used to refer to an intersex person(except if they specifically ask you to).
- Being intersex is not a single condition nor does it look the same for everyone. It encompasses a range of genetic, hormonal, and anatomical variations
- Your Intersex variation can be discovered at birth, in childhood, later in adulthood or not at all during your lifetime.
- Many African intersex people go their whole lives without learning about their genetic variation because it is seen as such a taboo subject.
If you’re an intersex person seeking help or community, Intersex Nigeria (Center for Healthcare Development and Youth Empowerment) is an intersex-led Non-Governmental Organization in Nigeria. They promote and advocate for the sexual reproductive health, self-determination, bodily autonomy and overall human rights of intersex people in Nigeria. They build community, evidence, capacity, education and information resources. Their goals are to help create a society where intersex bodies are not stigmatized and discriminated against, and where your rights as a people are recognized and respected.