Intersex is the term used to define general inborn physical characteristics which do not correspond with society’s conventional binary view of gender. It can be understood in genetic, hormonal or anatomical terms.

Signs of being intersex can manifest shortly before birth, in infancy or during puberty. They also sometimes remain undiscovered. Inter* is described in many ways. Please take a look at our glossary if you would like to know more about the different terms and names.

How many intersex people are there?

This question is difficult to answer. The number of inter* people in Germany has never been officially documented. Moreover, the most appropriate ways to define intersex, male and female are being continually debated. Scientific research suggests that the number of inter* people among the general population lies at between 0.02 and 1.7 per cent.

Comparatively speaking, there are

  • nearly as many twins in Germany as there are inter* children.[1]
  • there are approximately the same number of red-haired people as there are intersex people.[2]

Being intersex is therefore not as rare as you would think. Yet not many people know about it because it has been a taboo subject for so long.

Variations in sex characteristics are not an illness.

Intersex is not an illness and does not generally pose a threat to health. However, some variations can be associated with specific health risks. Intersex is described by medicine by means of diagnoses. Medicine also uses the general term “disorders/differences of sex development”.  However, the term DSD has been criticised by organisations and activists because it gives the impression that there is something wrong with the bodies of intersex people and that they are somehow “faulty” and therefore require some form of treatment.

Does intersex need to be treated?

No. Intersex in itself does not require treatment. Because intersex bodies can be very different from each other, it is important that intersex people know their bodies well and know about the types of services that are provided on an individual basis. Unfortunately, cosmetic procedures are continually offered nowadays which do nothing to improve health, but can in fact achieve the opposite effect.[1] You will find information surrounding discussions on human rights here. You will find further information on health matters here.


[1] In 2017, 1.8% of all births in Germany were twins or multiple births (German Federal Statistical Office).

[2] Approximately 1 to 2% of German citizens are naturally red haired .

[3] Cf. Schweizer, Katinka/Richter-Appelt, Hertha (2012): Die Hamburger Studie zur Intersexualität In: Schweizer, Katinka/Richter-Appelt, Hertha: Intersexualität kontrovers. Giessen: psychosozial Verlag. pp. 187–205.

By Andreas Hechler (educational expert, Berlin)

This text primarily focuses on the requirements that should be fulfilled in order to provide supportive educational work.

You will find information on how to integrate intersex into education and teaching here. We have also put together a list of dos and don’ts for teaching staff and educators.

1. Education and intersex

Education and childcare play an important part in shaping people’s understanding of gender in our society. They have also so far systematically helped to ensure that intersex people remain invisible. There is still very little literature and material available to people working in education, childcare, training and social work on the subject of intersex. It is regarded – if at all – as a “special”, “marginal” and or “minority” issue.

Medicine is still the primary field of knowledge that concerns itself with the subject of intersex. However, medical practitioners and other types of professionals that deal with intersex matters (lawyers, politicians, care workers, …) also receive training from educational institutions. It is also worth bearing in mind that intersex people are also present in educational institutions, both as teachers and as students.

The following factors should therefore be taken into account:

1. Facilitate learning about intersex issues (create awareness, encourage self-reflection, reflect on your own values, transfer knowledge, encourage greater confidence to act);

2. Ask what supporting inter* people in educational contexts can look like, and

3. Support parents and the extended family of inter* people.

The main objective would be to contribute to all three areas to ensure that it is possible to live as an intersex person without experiencing fear and discrimination.

When considered within a broader framework, a type of education that has diversity embedded within it should focus on inclusion and recognising others – in this case intersex people. The diversity of human existence and bodies should imply acceptance and respect.

2. Requirements

Explanations in this section are primarily directed at endosex professionals, i.e. people who fit within the medical definition of male or female.

It is assumed that the following conditions also apply to intersex professionals for the most part.

Self-education and self-reflection

If there is an intention to focus learning on intersex issues, the primary target group is the teachers/educators themselves. It is important to set aside familiar habits of thinking and perception; to focus your attention away from others (the target group/students/participants/the subject under consideration/inter* people) and direct it onto yourself; to work in a way that considers your own personal history and to bring to mind the way your own gender identity has developed and your own perceptions of gender that are associated with this. This should in no way just involve focusing on the subject in a purely cognitive way, but should also involve emotional learning processes and processes of change.

If this important step is left out, there is a greater chance that the educational staff will externalise their issues concerning gender and project them onto the subject of intersex. The diversity of human bodies, ways of existing and behaving which are not (cannot be) apparent in the binary gender system, can unleash aggression in people who have invested time and effort when they were being socialised to conform with the dominant gender norms.

It can be a good idea to seek out other people who have already engaged with this subject and ask them to accompany you throughout this process so you can learn from their experiences. Only when a mirror is held up to the habitual way of viewing bodies as “normal” through to “abnormal” and educators can set aside their desire to define the gender of another person,

– can it be possible to interact with an intersex person in a supportive way;

– can it be possible to support other people (your own target groups) when you deal with this subject.

The objective is not to encourage “tolerance” towards a small minority, but to engage with the subject in a self-reflective way as described above. This involves examining your own perceptions and ways of existing and behaving by posing fundamental questions about norms and variations, and it ultimately involves recognising that you are also “different”. This process continues throughout our lives – even teachers continue learning. It is useful to incorporate this as part of your own self-perception. The self-confidence that accompanies this process minimises the fear of “other” forms of gender development and modes of existence.

Knowledge acquisition

In order to teach and to enable you to explore the subject thoroughly yourself, it is also necessary to acquire knowledge. It is therefore necessary to acquire at least a basic understanding of the latest gender theories and critiques of medical and legal positions. It is especially important to listen to the stories and opinions of intersex people either through face-to-face encounters, texts, biographical reports, documentation, clips and other media articles. Other factors also need to be understood, including:

  • when teaching and learning about intersex, it is important to focus on the way society approaches intersex and not on individual diagnoses or clinical symptoms;
  • the “normalisation” of appearance goes hand in hand with the stigmatisation of difference;
  • medicine’s notion of prevention (carrying out surgical procedures to prevent the child from having problems later in life) is nonsense – it is usually the case that these procedures actually cause the problems;
  • the large majority of intersex people who grew up without gender reassignment surgery are healthy;
  • Children/young people/adults are still intersex even though there have been so many “normalising” medical procedures;
  • a person can be identified as intersex prenatally, directly after the birth, during puberty or also after puberty;
  • a clear ban on irreversible medical procedures without informed consent, which can change inborn gender characteristics or an intersex child’s reproductive function, is the central demand of intersex support groups;
  • it does not relate to being transgender or sexual diversity und issues surrounding public toilets, the legal recognition of non-binary gender etc. which are of lower importance in comparison to the core demand stated above;
  • creating taboos produces feelings of shame;
  • it does relate to the type of language we speak and the terms we use; not as an end itself, to produce a cosmetic effect or to comply with a code, but the way we act in relation to diversity is the logical consequence of the way we talk about diversity.

(This list is not necessarily exhaustive.)

You will find more specific details on the inclusion of intersex in teaching here. We have also compiled a list of dos and don’ts for educational staff.

3. Attitudes and behaviour

Educational staff are required to serve as allies to intersex people. Their key message and internal attitudes should be: “I am here for you if you need me.” If the inter* person talks to you about coming out, it is important to understand that you have been selected from among many other trusted people and so you should regard this is an important responsibility.

You should also be able to cope if you are not asked to provide support.

The following responsibilities and aspects are also relevant:

Support

Perhaps the most important educational responsibility is to provide support. You will work together with children and young people whose perceptions are reflected by their own experiences, who are supported along this path – this also applies to both inter* and endosex children and young people.

Empathy, acceptance and information

Many inter* people have had to deal with an excessive amount of pathologisation, medical and social violence, and denial and trivialisation of this violence – sometimes with far-reaching consequences (trauma, alienation, the subject becoming a taboo within the family, feelings of insecurity, loneliness etc.). The whole matter essentially revolves around empathy and understanding towards the person who has had these experiences. It is also important to create spaces where the situation is not pathologised, where it is possible to live by key values such as self-acceptance, the ability to overcome isolation by engaging with other people in similar situations (peer approach) and truth (as opposed to creating taboos, disseminating false information and remaining silent).

It is possible to find appropriate situations in which to explain what intersex means: inter* people are completely normal individuals and totally okay. They should be and are allowed to be happy and content. Their bodies differ in certain aspects from the established view of binary gender. This has the important effect of breaking the taboos, silence, secrecy and systematic lying. In the best-case scenario, the dissemination of information helps to relieve the strain on social relationships. This is achieved by conveying the fact that it is not them that is the “problem”, but that it is society itself which is failing the diverse range of human bodies and genders.

The power to define

The power to define who a person is and who this person would like to be should be placed in the hands of the children, young people and adults themselves without limitation. It is particularly important to be aware that these people should be allowed to decide their gender themselves at any time and should have the right to repeatedly change their minds at any point. One or both parents, medical or legal professionals should never define and stipulate a child’s gender. The people concerned are the real experts and it is important that they are given back the power to make decisions about their own lives. This should basically apply to everyone.

It is recommended that all educational institutions adopt this stance where (inter*) children are still too often carefully monitored to check that their gender is developing in a “normal” way, i.e. are they behaving, playing, dressing and speaking in traditional “male” or “female” ways. Transferring the control to define themselves into the hands of the children and young people removes the constant fear that the child could behave in an “atypical” way and the pressure that accompanies this. This is a significant source of relief not just for the inter* children and young people but also for everyone around them (parents, doctors, peers).

Offer protection and adopt a stance

Both neo-Nazism prevention initiatives and the accompanying research into LSBTQIA+[1] educational projects have made it clear that discriminatory attitudes held by children and young people diminish in line with the extent to which educational staff take a clear stand against discrimination[2].

If there are any forms of abuse, it is important that educational staff can be depended upon to provide support. Protection is not just required in the event of abusive language, attacks, bullying and similar behaviour, but in the event of medical interventions and violations of privacy, if these are continuing to happen. In these cases, the children or young people concerned should be helped to defend their rights and to find alternatives. They should also be helped to develop resilience.

Under no circumstances (!) should an individual be persuaded or forced to come out or to reveal information about themselves. If an intersex person opens up to you, you should discuss how this person would like to be supported and which options are available. If the person expresses a desire to act autonomously, ensure that you take these wishes very seriously, not least in view of the fact that a great many inter* people have often found out in the harshest possible way that it is impossible to be masters of their own destiny.

If inter* people feel like telling someone something about their bodies, operations, sex lives or similar, they will do just that – it is not okay to ask! On the other hand, it is okay and important to explain that these sorts of sensationalist questions are often offensive.

Encourage contact with peers and empowerment

Educational staff who are not themselves intersex should work toward ensuring that the intersex children and young people in their care have the opportunity to get in contact with other intersex children, young people and adults. Inter* peer groups, patient groups support organisations and self-help groups should be identified and meetings facilitated. A great many inter* people have reported that getting to know other inter* people is an extremely important, affirming and helpful self-empowerment process. Online communities play a particularly important role in helping inter* people to connect with each other.

These types of contacts and self-help groups don’t just help intersex people to become so much more empowered, they also help them to feel fully recognised as inter* people for the first time. This is generally a long journey, yet positive references to intersex make it more difficult to ignore a person’s authentic body and to counter the recurring question “What if …”.

If it is not possible to interact with inter* communities, it is likely that inter* people will consciously accept that they have to put up with isolation and loneliness.

Ability to learn from your own mistakes

Feeling at ease with yourself also applies here. It is not usually possible to act in a consistent way. The boundaries between meaning well and executing something relatively badly are often fluid, and it is not possible for each thing to cancel another out. This should not be regarded as personal failure, but rather on a structural level. For example, this can apply to the way the subject of intersex is approached; on the one hand it can be “really exciting” and on the other hand it can be exoticised. Likewise, descriptions of discrimination and injustice, on the one hand, and creating victim identities on the other. It is better to resolve these dilemmas and to navigate through them in an appropriate way than to try to resolve them in any one direction. This will make it difficult for a person to take action and to dismiss the subject of intersex because it is “too complicated”.

4. Working with parents/families

Working in education often also involves working with parents. Based on studies on transgender, homosexual and bisexual young people, it is possible to conclude that acceptance and support from parents and the extended family can also be extremely important for intersex children and young people. At the same time, very few professional support services have so far been available to either inter* people themselves or to their parents, other relatives or significant others. Social (educational) and educational work should here – as in other areas – include the family environment.

Parents are required to serve as allies and advocates for their intersex children – this should be made clear to them. It is true that they also need support. Many parents of intersex children feel that they have been abandoned and need help. Parents can find it useful to build a support network, especially with other parents of intersex children.

It has proven to be helpful for intersex children if their parents

  • know that they have time. They shouldn’t feel pressured by doctors to agree to quick and irreversible medical procedures.
  • ensure that decisions that they make now can be communicated to their child in an open and honest way when the child is older.
  • know that hiding information about the child’s body from the child can severely damage the parent-child relationship.
  • can get hold of comprehensive information about their child’s patient rights and intersex characteristics.
  • should document every examination and every discussion with professionals.

Additional information (in English only) can be found in the text  I am a parent/friend


[1] This combination of letters stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, inter* and asexual. The plus sign (or sometimes an asterisk) serves as a placeholder for other identities in order to make visible all other genders beyond “male” and “female”.

[2] The following publications are good examples: German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (2017): LSBTIQ* Lehrkräfte in Deutschland. Diskriminierungserfahrungen und Umgang mit der eigenen geschlechtlichen und sexuellen Identität im Schulalltag. Berlin.

By Andreas Hechler (educational expert, Berlin)

Here you will find specific advice on how to support inter* children and young people in your educational establishment and how to incorporate the subject into your work.

You will find here further information on behaviour and requirements relating to work that reflects on notions of gender. We have also put together a list of dos and don’ts for teaching staff and educators.

Inter* people in educational settings

Inter* children and young people can experience discrimination in educational settings for a variety of reasons – even if they haven’t come out. This may be triggered by factors such as puberty progressing in an “atypical” way and physical characteristics, or individuals being forced to hide their own gender or periods of absence to have medical treatment. This can also mean that inter* children and young people become less able to cope with discrimination. This lack of resilience can be due to low self-esteem and a tendency to isolate themselves as a result of medical interventions and social taboos. In addition, there are fewer opportunities to identify with peers and fewer friendships in general. This can result in an enormous amount of stress, behavioural problems, serious incidences of bullying and discrimination, loss of performance due to mental disorders and a drop in school attendance through to dropping out of school completely.

Intersex people often end up underperforming and are unable to fully unlock their potential due to these difficulties. This can have a significant effect on their future career paths and life plans.

It is important to understand these factors, to position yourself unequivocally by the side of inter* people and to offer your support. You should also convey this attitude when you work with parents.

Empowerment AND sensitisation

Learning groups and other types of groups are generally heterogeneous and this also applies to the subject of intersex. Even if there aren’t any inter* people in the group who have come out (this will probably be the case most often), it does not mean that there aren’t any intersex people present. In terms of behaviour, it should basically be assumed that both intersex as well as endosex people (i.e. people who aren’t intersex) are members of learning groups and part of educational settings.

Endosex children and young people generally need to be sensitised to the subject of intersex and need to learn more about it. Intersex children and young people are generally sensitised to the issues – opportunities for empowerment can be very important for them.

Sensitisation and empowerment are strategies that can fit well together. However, it is possible that conflict and tensions may develop which are not easy to manage from a pedagogical standpoint. In some situations, it can be useful to try different strategies, such as splitting up the groups if there are inter* people present who have already come out. This complex area of conflict involving invisible dynamics, empowerment and sensitisation is discussed extensively in the handout Pädagogik geschlechtlicher, amouröser und sexueller Vielfalt – Zwischen Sensibilisierung und Empowerment

Approaching the subject of intersex implicitly

The subject of Intersex can be approached implicitly or explicitly.

When approached in an implicit way, inter* people are presented through words and images as a normal part of society. They are a part of everyday community life and the subject doesn’t become an issue in either a positive or negative way. Intersex also does not become a matter of discussion simply because gender issues are being dealt with.

It is also necessary when approaching intersex implicitly to regularly focus on the subject in an explicit way. This is because the subject does not generally feature prominently, so it is necessary to prevent the subject from continuing to be invisible. 

Approaching the subject of intersex explicitly

When approaching the subject of intersex explicitly, inter* ways of life are made visible and the way society approaches intersex becomes the matter of discussion. In doing so, certain aspects have to be considered in relation to the general complexity of the issue which involve working through aspects of discrimination without replicating discrimination.

1. Medical/biological knowledge should be assessed in a critical way and it should not be discussed right at the beginning and only in small doses. It is very difficult to appreciate what it is like to be an inter* person if the situation is only viewed through the prism of medical models of syndromes and pathologies. It is possible to lose sight of the fact that they are people with completely individual interests, preferences, experiences and life circumstances.

2. Following on from the argument stated in the previous sentence, inter* bodies should also not be used to help deconstruct biological binary gender, even if this is a worthy and important consideration.

3. The effects of medical and legal action and violence that has been/is being committed against inter* people, should be made visible as well as the issues, demands and resistance movements that have arisen in response. A high degree of sensitivity is necessary; compromising photos of naked bodies or similar forms of victimisation should be avoided in every sense. The focus should not be on pathologies and syndromes but on discrimination and human rights. Intersex people should be regarded as experts and authorities on the subject. They should be given the chance to have their say as advisors, authors, storytellers, film makers, and should not be merely seen as the “people affected” or as “freaks”.

4. In addition, intersex people should come to the fore and be seen as autonomous and individual people with their own desires, needs, capabilities etc, which have nothing to do with being intersex.

When considering this list, it is clear that it is important that the voices of intersex people are heard. Their voices are needed, otherwise it is likely that they will be talked about instead of being talked with if the subject is approached from a non-intersex perspective. This can be harmful and instructive; even more so if intersex people are present who want to be protected from possible discrimination and don’t want to be forced to come out as a consequence. Examples of intersex voices, which feature in clips, documentation, texts, social media etc. can be used in teaching and learning situations.

Intersectionality

Intersex people and their experiences can be very different; there is no single inter* experience. Even though a particular representation of one inter* person can illustrate certain tendencies, it may not represent another inter* person at all. The way inter* people experience/live their lives as intersex people is just as varied as the way endosex people experience/live their lives as endosex people.

The differences can be experienced on an individual/personal basis or also within groups. They are also dependent on other dimensions relating to inequality, such as sexual orientation, family background, religion, disabilities, class or similar. It is important to appreciate the multi-dimensional nature and diversity of life circumstances, alongside the multi-dimensional forms of discrimination and privilege. It is very likely that a black inter* person will have different experiences to a white inter* person. An intersex woman living as a lesbian in a large city will have different experiences to an intersex person living as inter* in a rural location who is attracted to men.

It is therefore important that more and more biographies of inter* people are shown and that individual differences are explicitly highlighted as well as differences between groups.

Zoom out: gender norms concern all of us

The focus should ultimately be taken off inter* people and the way society deals with intersex issues should be placed in a wider context. Intersex is simply one aspect of gender diversity.

So, for example, gender and sexual norms which concern all people can be discussed in teaching and learning contexts, without obscuring the importance of diversity. Ideals of beauty, standards of masculinity and femininity and the like force everyone to conform to gender stereotypes. The extent to which people experience the pre-programmed sense of friction and failure that occurs when trying to conform with rigid binary gender roles varies greatly and this also applies to the bodies and genitalia of people who are not classified as intersex. This means therefore that approaching the subject of intersex in a critical way makes it possible to be free from traditional standards of masculinity and femininity which is also a relief for endo* people, making their lives more relaxed and easier to live. All children and young people will benefit if institutions think and act in a way that reflects gender diversity. This should encompass aspects such as toilet facilities, curricula decisions, interior design, recruitment of staff and the type of language used. Schools and institutions that support children and young people should therefore be places where diversity is recognised, made visible and fully experienced.

Gender diversity not only encompasses trans* or inter* but also “men” and “women” as they are also part of gender diversity. Intersex can therefore be incorporated into teaching/lesson units separately or as one of several relevant themes relating to gender relations, sex education, discrimination or another overarching theme. The subject should not just be approached in a rational and knowledge-based way; everyone involved should also reflect upon their own feelings about the subject individually and by working in small groups. Learning groups should be encouraged to think about their own feelings about their gender and its development. With this in mind, it is useful to discuss the fact that gender is assigned prenatally or at birth and that it is also subject to historical change.

School subjects

Biology: Intersex should not just be covered in biology lessons. When it is covered in this subject, it should be made clear that all human bodies vary significantly and that they do not develop within binary parameters.

History: The lives of prominent inter* people can be examined when studying inter* history, or “hermstory”. There are teaching materials available which focus on important figures such as Herculine Barbin.

English: It can also be useful to watch and discuss the various videos produced by activists in the USA, for example, the TED Talk by Emily Quinn.

French: This subject could provide an opportunity to explore the memoirs of Herculine Barbin.

Ethics/Politics: The subject offers an opportunity to discuss the latest debates on subjects such as legal reform. The inter* movement can also be discussed in terms of the role it is playing as a social/political movement as well as the campaigns led by intersex people.

A video which highlights various aspects of inter* and is suitable for use in different subject lessons is available on the Planet Schule website.

You can find further suggestions to help you structure your lessons in an article by Ursula Rosen in the pamphlet Schule lehrt/lernt Vielfalt (pp. 172–174).

You can hear the voices of intersex people in a collection of writing called voices – role models – empowerment.

Intersex people have not often been seen in the public arena. They are rarely represented in series, books or on television.

We have brought together here a number of accounts by intersex people and their families who have shared various aspects of their lives with us.

There are a number of videos, articles and projects on the subject of intersex on the internet. We have listed a few them here: OII Europe (Organisation Intersex International, Europe) has gathered together the testimonies of inter* people from across Europe in the section of their website called #MY INTERSEX STORY. If you look on the project page, you will find videos and information about the project. Inter* people from across the whole of Europe tell their stories in the book. (The website and testimonies are in English)

The Interface Project, which was founded in 2012, portrays the various everyday realities of intersex people. The people introduce themselves in short videos and give accounts of their lives. Each video is accompanied by a transcript.

The TV programme Auf Klo on the public youth TV channel funk has a guest called Audrey from Switzerland in one of its episodes. Audrey talks about various experiences, such as the medical procedures, that she underwent as a child and teenager.

(The videos are in German, French or English. Most of them also have German subtitles..)

You can watch other videos by Audrey on her YouTube channel (Audr XY).

There is a video on Planet Schule, a website that provides education about the media, in which Lynn from Berlin explains what it is like to be intersex.

OII Europe’s YouTube channel includes a video entitled “My intersex story”.

(English with German subtitles.)

The German TV channel WDR also aired a segment in which a mother is interviewed about what it is like to have an intersex child.

Ted Talk by Emily Quinn – The way we think about biological sex is wrong (English with German subtitles). Emily Quinn is an author, graphic artist and an activist with InterAct. The books Inter*Trans*Express and Identitätskrise 2.0 are a collection of short stories, poems and drawings on everyday life and the protest activities of a “gender outlaw”. Both books describe personal experiences and highlight the viewpoints of inter* people.

Here is a list of further materials by intersex people:

Books and websites

This anthology includes short, personal stories by intersex people from all over the world:

Short stories, poems and drawings by an intersex person:

Websites on which intersex people tell their stories:

Other websites and pamphlets on Inter*:

  • Regenbogenportal – an online information service on same-sex lifestyles and gender diversity. An extensive range of useful and informative texts on the subject of intersex produced by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ).
  • Inter* und Sprache. a pamphlet relating to the antidiscrimination project by TransInterQueer.
  • If you want to explore the subjects of acceptance and diversity in more detail, you can find lots of recommended children’s books in the pamphlet Akzeptanz für Vielfalt.

Video clips

Recommended (film) documentaries:

Comics and graphic novels

By Andreas Hechler (educational expert, Berlin)

Here you will find a list of dos and don’ts when carrying out educational work. This text can help you if you want to find out more about approaches and requirements relating to educational work of a sensitive nature. You will also find here a text which shows you how to integrate the subject of intersex into educational work. Our glossary is a good place to find explanations of the different terms.

Don’t Do
The subject of intersex is too complicated. Deal with the subject of intersex proactively.
Only mention that there is such a thing as intersex every now and again. Think about and describe gender diversity in every (educational) situation and allow this to inform the way you act.
Intersex does not appear as a topic in curricula, study programmes, educational instruction and training courses. The subject is only covered if there is enough time and if the learners are interested. The subject is firmly established in educational instruction, curricula and study programmes for people working in social services, education and the legal and medical professions. A wide range of in-depth training courses.
Lack of self-reflection and self-orientation. You reflect on your own position (continually examine your own social position, the way you present yourself and your role as an educator).
Inter* people are ill – pathologisation. Inter* people are the victims of discrimination. Focus discussions on the way society approaches intersex and depathologise.
Medicine regarded as the authority on the subject. Using medical models of intersex. Regard inter* people as experts and take them seriously. Be aware of and use personal testimonies from inter* people and focus on human rights.
Conventional male and female bodies are compared and clearly differentiated from each other. Highlight the many different types of bodies and forms of gender.
Only tell stories of suffering and stories of victims. Stories from a diverse range of empowered (self-empowered), confident inter* people.
Main topics: All-gender toilets and identity issues. Main topics: Discrimination and human rights violations. Take up the demands put forward by various organisations, especially following a ban on irreversible medical interventions which consequently change inborn gender characteristics or a child’s reproductive function.
Deconstructing the binary gender system via intersex bodies. Do not use intersex for your own/other purposes, but focus on the biographies and lives of inter* people.
No antidiscrimination representative in the organisation/responsible body/school. Firmly established antidiscrimination representative with the authority to act in the organisation/responsible body/school.
Binary facilities which are used in a restrictive way. Inclusive facilities (including all-gender toilets) used in creative ways (including individual changing cubicles, specific times for showering for specific groups …).
Telling colleagues/students/participants who is intersex. When inter* children or young people come out, treating it as confidential and working together to decide whether other people should know and how they should find out. Coming out has nothing to do with anyone else but the inter* person!
Jokes and comments etc. about requests to change pronouns. Respect and acceptance for the way people define their own gender, provide opportunities to explore their sense of self (allow space and support to explore non-stereotypical representations of gender).
Statements such as: “I didn’t mean it like that,”, “Don’t be silly!”, “Toughen up”, … Intervening if there is evidence of discrimination (be vigilant, resolute and intervene in a focused way).
Dealing with transgender and intersex as if they are one subject. Regarding transgender and intersex as separate things and handling the subjects in different ways.
Illustrating a passage of text about an inter* person with a photograph of a trans* person. Ensuring that images and text are in alignment.
Saying “sexual diversity” … … when you are actually referring to “gender diversity”.
“Intersexuality”. “Intersex”; “Inter*”.
“Ambiguous”. Do not use this word – every gender is unambiguous!
“Between the genders”. Do not use this statement – “gender” is more than just “man” and “woman”.
“Variant”, “special”, “phenomenon”, “quirk of nature”, “disorder”, “developmental disorder”, “anomaly”, “syndrome”, “pseudo-hermaphrodite”, “victim”, “lacking”, “not properly formed”, “wrong”, “normal”, “typical”, “too many”, “too few”, “too big”, “too small”, … “Intersex”, “inter*”, “inter* person”, “gender self-determination”, “human rights”, “variation”.

(Auto)biographies

Raising Rosie by Stephani and Eric Lohmann (2018). English: ISBN: 978-1785927676.

Mein intersexuelles Kind: weiblich männlich fließend. Clara Morgen (2013). ISBN: 978-3887472924.

Ich war Mann und Frau Mein Leben als Intersexuelle. Christiane Völling (2010). ISBN: 978-3771644550.

Non-fiction books

Die Schönheiten des Geschlechts: Intersex im Dialog. Katinka Schweizer (ed.), Fabian Vogler (ed.) (2018). ISBN: 978-3593508887.

Normierte Kinder. Effekte der Geschlechternormativität auf Kindheit und Adoleszenz. Erik Schneider, Christel Baltes-Löhr (ed.) (2014, 2018). ISBN: 978-3-8376-2417-5.

Geschlechtliche, sexuelle und reproduktive Selbstbestimmung. Praxisorientierte Zugänge. Michaela Katzer, Heinz-Jürgen Voß (ed.) (2016). ISBN: 978-3-8379-2546-3.

Intergeschlechtlichkeit. Impulse für die Beratung. Manuela Tillmanns (2015). ISBN 978-3-8379-2493-0

Academic publications

Zum Wohle des Kindes? Für die Rechte von Kindern mit Variationen der Geschlechtsmerkmale in Dänemark und DeutschlandAmnesty International (2017).

Gleiche Rechte – Diskriminierung aufgrund des Geschlechts” German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (2015).

Intersexualität in NRW. Eine qualitative Untersuchung der Gesundheitsversorgung von zwischengeschlechtlichen Kindern in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Projektbericht” Anike Krämer, Prof. Dr. Katja Sabisch (2017).

Newspaper articles

Wie Christian endlich Christian wurde” – Ze.tt.

Wenn das Kind weder Mädchen noch Junge ist – eine Mutter erzählt” – Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Produced with the fantastic support of Andreas Hechler

Do you work with children, young people or adults? Do you want to incorporate the subject of intersex into your work? There are several different ways to incorporate intersex into your work thematically. You could ensure that the subject continually runs through your work (implicit) or you could approach it in a more emphatic way (explicit). There is also plenty of information available on other parts of our website relating to the important issues to consider in intersex and education and the important dos and don’ts that need to be followed.

Throughout our website, we also refer to a range of useful materials that are aimed at different audiences. You can also view videos and articles by intersex people – this is great way to enable inter* people to have their say. Please take a look at our voices and role models page.

Since the subject of intersex is receiving more and more attention in German-speaking countries, it may be the case that the information provided here, which was last updated in August 2019, is no longer up-to-date. It is therefore a good idea to supplement what you find out here with information from other sources too.

Teaching materials

Click here to view information on a range of children’s books on the subject of intersex.

Books and websites

Video clips

Comics and graphic novels

Projects

  • SCHLAU NRW
    This educational and antidiscrimination project focusing on gender and sexual diversity offers workshops for school children, youth groups and groups of young adults. The subject of intersex is currently being gradually introduced.
  • Schule der Vielfalt – Schule ohne Homophobie
    This educational project encourages students and teachers to do more to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, inter* and queer people in schools. On the website, there is a range of teaching materials for lessons and project days as well as ideas that can help schools to promote greater acceptance of different lifestyles. Information on intersex issues is also included in the material.