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Is Intersex a Disability? Lessons from Disability Activism in Building the Intersex Movement

Workshop description for "Queerness and Disability" conference (06/02/2002)

Emi Koyama, Program Assistant, Intersex Society of North America
Cheryl Chase, Executive Director, Intersex Society of North America
Diana Courvant, Program Coordinator, Survivor Project
Sumi Colligan (facilitator)

While the topic of intersexuality and the movement by and for intersex people emerged out of almost complete silence into the center of attention from mainstream media, academic discourses, and activist organizing, the connections and influences between/across intersex movement and disability movement have not been adequately explored. This panel addresses ways in which these diverse and overlapping movements share analysis and strategies, build alliances with one another, and interrogate "norms" created and enforced by social, political and medical institutions that hinder our rights to informed consent, self-representation, pride, and survival.

Three panelists each come from their own unique perspectives: Chase borrows analysis and strategies from disability activism/theories as the founder of Intersex Society of North America; Koyama is an intersex activist who is also a disability and psychiatric survivor activist; Courvant faces different but similar struggles as a transsexual woman with disabilities, and is an intersex ally. Combining these voices, and those of others in the audience, we hope to create a vision for a greater collaboration between various aspects of intersex and disability movements.