Belgian supermodel Hanne Gaby Odiele has revealed in an interview with USA Today that she is intersex, a condition in which people are born with mixed female and male sex characteristics. “It’s very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo,” Odiele, who is hoping to help reduce the stigma around the condition, said. “At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this.” The 29-year-old fashion model was born with a condition called “androgen insensitivity syndrome,” causing her to be born with internal testes but without a uterus or ovaries. The United Nations estimates that up to 1.7% of the world’s population is born with intersex traits, even though many people keep it secret. Odiele, who has worked for major fashion houses such as Dior, Chanel, and Prada, is one of the first celebrities to speak out about it.
Besides breaking the taboo, she also wants to bring attention to the invasive surgeries carried out on intersex people, which are often not strictly necessary. Odiele had her undescended testicles removed at 10, after doctors told her they might cause cancer, and had reconstructive surgery for her vagina at 18. “I am proud to be intersex, but very angry that these surgeries are still happening,” she said. “It’s not that big of a deal being intersex. If they were just honest from the beginning … it became a trauma because of what they did.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.