Belgian Hanne Gaby Odiele reveals that she was born intersex. The 29-year-old hopes that her coming out would break the taboo surrounding people like her.
People who are born intersex are those whose sex characteristics, like genitals or chromosomes, do not fit the descriptions of male or female, Intersex Society of North America explains. In the model’s case, she was born with undescended testes, which were surgically removed when she reached the age of 10.
Hanne Gaby Odiele was born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) that caused her to have XY chromosomes, which is normally found in men. Her parents were told that if her testes were not removed, she would not develop as a normal, female girl and might even develop cancer.
“It is very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo. At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this,” Odiele told USA Today. The model, from Kortrijk, Belgium, adds, “I knew at one point after the surgery I could not have kids, I was not having my period. I knew something was wrong with me.”
Odiele says that children born intersex should be part of the decision to have surgery. She says that she is angry at parents who choose to go ahead with sexual reassignment without even consulting their kids or asking for their permission or consent.
“I am proud to be intersex,” the model states, “but very angry that these surgeries are still happening.” As of now, it is still debated if children should have a say about what gender they need to be. According to the United Nations, up to 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits, USA Today reports. For some people born with this, they may not realize it until they reach puberty or they find out they infertile.