Today (November 8) marks Intersex Day of Remembrance (otherwise known as Intersex Solidarity Day); a day created in 2005 on the birthday of 19th century French intersex person Herculine Barbin, recognising the various issues that people born with gender ambiguity face from the day they are born.

Intersex flag

Intersex flag

Long believed to be just a matter of indeterminable sexual appendages, intersex conditions cover many more bases than that. It includes chromosomal, hormonal and gonadal conditions, all of which can fall outside of the usual male/female boundaries.

Here are just a few famous people who fall on the broad spectrum that is intersex:

Hanne Gaby Odiele at the #BoF500 gala during New York Fashion Week / Photo Credit: NYKC/FAMOUS
Hanne Gaby Odiele at the #BoF500 gala during New York Fashion Week / Photo Credit: NYKC/FAMOUS

1. Hanne Gaby Odiele

The Vogue supermodel revealed she was intersex last year, disclosing that she was born with internal testes that were surgically removed when she was 10. She has androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) which means she has male chromosomes but her body has not responded properly to testerone so the penis was not formed. She had surgery at the age of 18 to reconstruct her vagina, and now she campaigns against Intersex Genital Mutilation, and advocates that children should be given the opportunity to decide on surgery for themselves.

2. Lady Colin Campbell

This Jamaican-born heiress and socialite was born with a fused labia and deformed clitoris and was assigned male by doctors and given the name George. However, she began to grow breasts and her hips widened as puberty struck at the age of 13, and she was forced to undergo male hormone injections. It wasn't until she was 21 that she had corrective surgery and began living life as a woman named Georgia.

3. Taylor Lianne Chandler

In 2014, the ex-girlfriend of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps revealed that she was born intersex. She was assigned male at birth under the name David Roy Fitch, but she spent the majority of her childhood behaving like a girl. She took testosterone blockers and oestrogen enhancers before undergoing corrective surgery at a later date. Now she's an activist on gender and trans issues and works with a variety of organisations.

4. Caster Semenya

Rumours that this South African gold-medallist runner was intersex first came about in 2009. Due to her outstanding performance at the IAAF World Championships, she was forced to undergo a sex verification test. Some of the results were leaked, leading to some speculation that she had an intersex trait, and since then her involvement in competitions has been repeatedly denied and re-allowed.

As of this month, though, new rules within the IAAF requires hyperandrogenous athletes to lower their testosterone levels with medication in order to be allowed to compete. These rules only apply to those within the middle-distance races of 400m, 800m and 1500m and many believe that they came about to specifically target Semenya.

5. Thea Hillman

Thea is an intersex author best known for her critically-acclaimed Lambda Award-winning book Intersex: For Lack of a Better Word in which she deals with memoirs regarding gender, sexuality and her career. She's a San Francisco poetry slam champion, was Chair of the Intersex Society of North America, and she's also a mother.

6. Hida Viloria

This Latina writer published her book Born Both: An Intersex Life last year, in which she details a very different experience of being an intersex child than most. Her parents decided against unnecessary surgery, sometimes known as intersex genital mutilation (IGM), for her genital variances despite medical recommendations. She has spent much of her career campaigning against IGM, and lobbied for equal rights for intersex athletes like Caster Semenya. She was the second ever American recipient of an intersex birth certificate and currently identifies as non-binary.

7. Caroline Cossey

Although known as the first "trans woman" to pose for Playboy, the British model - who has the working name "Tula" and appeared in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only - was born with a variant of a chromosomal condition called Klinefelter's syndrome, which means instead of the usual XY male chromosome pattern, she had the genotype XXXY. She was raised a boy but was bullied for being visibly feminine, and by 19 she was receiving hormone therapy and living as a woman before eventually undergoing gender reassignment surgery.


by for www.femalefirst.co.uk