In this project , you'll find 21 portraits complemented by the personal accounts of those depicted. For the very first time, they generously share their life experiences with the world, inviting us into their stories. It's a significant and sincere opportunity to connect with the depth of their journeys and gain a profound understanding of their perspectives.
While we are becoming more accustomed to people who don't fit into boxes, a large group of Dutch people still live with a secret. They are intersex: born with a body that is different from what we consider as male or female. They have characteristics of both. Sometimes it becomes evident at birth that a child is intersex, as their physical characteristics may not clearly indicate whether they are a boy or a girl. More often, there may be no visible external signs.The variation can be internal and can become apparent later on. For example, when a teenage girl does not start her period.
Intersex refers to the I in LGBTQIA+. 1 in 90 people is born with an intersex variation, also known as a Difference of Sex Development (DSD). The official policy regarding intersex until some time ago has been to keep it a secret and make the body more male or female through medical procedures. Slowly but surely, there is more openness in society about intersex now. The medical practice is changing too, although recent research shows that genital surgery is still being performed on children under the age of 12 in the Netherlands, even if it is not medically necessary and the children cannot have a say in the decision.
Taboo on biological sex diversity
Biological sex diversity maintains a taboo in our society. This portrait series aims to change that. 21 intersex people come forward with their experiences: what is it like to live in a world that is divided into men and women while you have a body that does not fit into either of those boxes? If this exhibition proves anything, it is that everyone experiences it differently. Yet, there are also parallels among those portrayed. Living with a secret, for example, weighs heavily. Just like the medical procedures people could not have a say in. Almost every person relates to the biology lessons in school, intersex is - to this day! - being denied. Another common denominator is the relief when the secret has been revealed and the responses are generally positive.
There is one thing that all those portrayed agree upon: there needs to be more knowledge and societal awareness about intersex and the existence of biological sex diversity. Biological sex is a spectrum with infinitely many variations, much more than just male and female. For intersex people, it is only truly safe to come out when society knows they exist and that it is perfectly natural and normal to be intersex.
Intersex - 1 in 90 is an initiative of journalist Lara Aerts, photographer Ernst Coppejans, and the Open mind foundation.
The project has been made possible with the support of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds – VSBfonds – Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst – BNG Cultuurfonds – municipality of Alkmaar – municipality of Tilburg – municipality of Eindhoven – municipality of Nijmegen – municipality of Rotterdam – Dutch municipalities – national and regional media – educational and healthcare institutions – Kellerman Bureau in Actie – Rodi Media –Zuyd Vertalingen – Imagebuilding – NNID - COC Netherlands and regional COCs – Matchingsfonds – Fonds BJP
…and above all, by all the beautiful, strong, and courageous people who, with their personal portraits and stories, want to set an example in coming out with their intersex experiences.
For more information about the exhibition, magazine, podcast, impact program, please visitwww.stichtingopenmind.nl/intersex.