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This is why intersex activists handcuffed themselves to UK’s parliament today

This is why intersex activists handcuffed themselves to UK’s parliament today

Activists call for Intersex Equality Inquiry

Three intersex activists handcuffed themselves in front of London’s parliament today to fight for an Intersex Equality Inquiry.

Artist Ela Xora, author Joe Holliday and his mother Julia Farmer stood in protest against the institutionalised abuse and cruelty against anyone born intersex.

Intersex is when you are born with sexual or reproductive parts that do not fit within the typical definitions of male and female. The Council of Europe and Amnesty International have agreed the UK should also launch an intersex inquiry and given them equal human rights in UK law.

Intersex people have variations in hormone levels, genitalia or chromosomes that vary biologically from wholly male or female biology. Most intersex people are born with stereotypical genitals meaning the majority do not know they are intersex until they get to adulthood. Around 1 in 100 babies are thought to be born intersex.

The activists are fighting for parliament to recognize the systematic abuse where intersex people are castrated or mutilated against their will. This is thought to happen because many do not understand intersex people exist at all.

For example, Holliday was castrated without his consent and brought up as a girl as the result of UK medical establishment recommendations because he was born without a penis. He has been involved in launching a series of protests aimed at the UK government to human rights organizations around the world including the UN.

Xora, Holliday and Farmer all chained themselves to the gates, with parliamentary police confronting them over their protest late this afternoon.


When they went inside to lobby their MPs, Xora was refused entry for her refusal to remove her mask.

She has pledged to not remove her mask until government takes notice of their plight and so intersex people are no longer invisible. Holliday and Farmer cleared the first hurdle, but were then stopped for attempting to enter parliament while in possession of working handcuffs. After a lecture from a senior security person – and after the handcuffs had been impounded, they were allowed to proceed.Unfortunately, by then, all of their representatives in parliament had gone home.

The UK government has yet to respond to the repeated calls for rights for intersex people.

Last month, the government announced its findings on the Trans Equality Inquiry it launched last year. Their recommendations included lowering the age for trans people to be recognized legally to 16.

Xora said: ‘The government have done sterling work on the recent trans report but now we must move in a direction towards intersex people and the current abuses they face as identified by the UN and many others. This is as a result of being masked in law and thus culture for thousands of years. Please Prime Minister David Cameron and Maria Miller, launch a intersex equality inquiry now!’

(Video by Lewis Peters, additional reporting by Joe Morgan).