Intersex – 1 IN 90
While we are getting more and more used to people who do not fit into boxes, a large group of people still live with a secret: they were born with a body that does not meet the normative definition of male or female as used by society. This occurs in about 1 in 90 people.
For years, the official policy on intersex was to keep it secret and possibly correct it surgically and/or hormonally. In the meantime, there is slowly more openness about intersex, the medical practice is also under pressure. But the idea that it is better to grow up as a boy or a girl and that medical intervention may be desirable is still prevalent.
Intersex children continue to undergo unnecessary medical treatments without their consent to fit better within the box of ‘male’ or ‘female’. The UN, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament consider this a violation of the (human) rights of the child and advocate a legal ban on these operations. The Netherlands often lead the way when it comes to LGBTI emancipation, the letter “I” was added in 2017 – but in the field of intersex this does not apply. As a result, intersex people often live ‘in the closet’. Studies show that living with a secret causes psychological problems and that early medical intervention can be traumatic. Intersex people on average have a lower income, lower education and a higher risk of depression and suicide.
This is a project by Ernst Coppejans and journalist Lara Aerts and has been in the making since 2019, and it is now being revealed to the world for the first time in 2023.
Ernst Coppejans is a Dutch award-winning portrait and documentary photographer whose work confronts social issues such as racism, exclusion, and LGBTQ rights. His vibrant use of color and honest, realistic style capture the essence of his subjects and their stories. Coppejans discovered his passion for photography’s storytelling power, studying at the Photo Academy in Amsterdam. His desire to capture the complexities of the human experience led him to explore the marginalized social issues that are too often ignored. Based in Amsterdam, he continues to push artistic boundaries, reminding us of photography’s power to enact social change and shape our understanding of the world.