The Better Lives Project to educate on intersex variations

Project breaking taboo on sex characteristic variations

The Better Lives Project has been launched to educate midwives and parents about the needs of children born with variations of sex characteristics.

Intersex is the umbrella term used for people with variations of sex characteristics. The project is a joint initiative of Working it Out and Intersex Peer Support Australia and is funded by the Tasmanian government.

Three key elements to The Better Lives Project is a five minute video to be shown during antenatal classes, the launch of a book for new parents with a child who is intersex, and providing workshops to educate midwives and nurses.

Project officer Simone-lisa Anderson said the most amazing bits of the project were those deliverables.

"The idea is to support midwives to support families," Ms Anderson said.


She said the video was to help educate people that were pregnant, just in case they gave birth to a child with variations of sex characteristics.

"It is a natural part of the variations that we have as a species."

Ms Anderson said because the variation were "between our legs" that it was "taboo within our culture".

"Unfortunately this means that the outcomes for children that are born with variations to their characteristics are very poor."

She said young children were undergoing nonconsensual surgeries to make them "more female" or "more male", labelling them as human rights atrocities.

"And that's why this project is so great, because it gives an opportunity for the midwives to have a knowledge base that isn't pathologically based, which basically means that it isn't grounded in a clinician's need to operate.

"Which means that the child will more than likely have a better outcome and a more positive outcome in the birthing suite.

"And once all our midwives have this, this knowledge base, that there are different pathways, there are ways to be inclusive with people that are born with variations to their sex characteristics in a clinical setting, we'll see less human rights abuses done to these children.

"Which means that they won't have a lifetime of shame and stigma."

Ms Anderson said she had spent the last week traveling to the North-West and north talking to midwives about holding workshops.

"A lot of them still had no idea what intersex was.

"So many of these people that are supporting families... many of them don't have a knowledge base [of it] and don't even know what the definition of intersex is."

This story Project breaking taboo on sex characteristic variations first appeared on The Advocate.