She’s a regular on the runways of Versace, Wang and Marc Jacobs, but it’s her latest turn as an intersex advocate for young people that is earning her praise.
Twenty-nine-year-old top model and style icon Hanne Gaby Odiele has come out as intersex via Instagram while announcing her role as advocate for non-profit intersex youth organisation, interACT.
An inspiration in the world of street style, the Belgian stunner talked about her decision to come out with USA Today, saying “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.”
And talk about it, she did.
Today might be one of the most important days in my life, I’ve decide to announce with you all I’m #intersex, read my story in USA Today (link in bio) I want to bring awerness and put to light the irreversible Unnecessary non consent surgeries we often go trough as kids FEEL FREE TO SHARE #intersex #StopIGM (Intersex Genital Mutilation) #intersexHanne #intersexy @interact_adv
Odiele hopes to shed light on the issue of non-consensual medical procedures intersex children are often forced forced to undergo. The procedures can be an attempt to make them conform to more typically female or male physiology.
The model told the outlet she was born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), which meant she had more XY chromosomes than the typical women and internal, undescended testes. As a child, her parents were told that if she didn’t have her testicles removed “I might develop cancer and I would not develop as a normal, female girl,” she recalled.
“It’s not that big of a deal being intersex,” she said, especially considering the trauma of the testes removal she endured at 10-years-old and the genital reconstructive surgery she had at 18: “If they were just honest from the beginning … It became a trauma because of what they did.”
She continued, “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 has come along way since then. And with her new appointment as an ambassador with interACT, she hopes to bring new positivity to mainstream media in its reporting about intersex people.
“It is an important part of my life to talk about this,” she said. According to USA Today, the model’s story will also feature in an upcoming issue of Vogue US. “They will see me as they have before,” she told the publication. “Nothing should change.”
The executive director of interACT Advocates for Intersex Youth, Kimberley Zieselman, applauded her organisation’s new partnership, telling the publication “I think her [Odiele] speaking out, having her voice added to the mix is going to culturally raise awareness in the mainstream.”
The World Health Organisation has condemned surgical interference on children too young to make an informed decision as a “human rights violation.”
Here’s to more people like Odiele speaking up for the next generation of intersex children, empowering them to make up their own minds about their bodies and identities.