Activist Alicia Weigel spoke about intersex awareness and said intersex children are subject to harmful procedures at the Diversity Dialogue on Wednesday. Students for Equity and Diversity hosted the event in a partnership with the Gender and Sexuality Center.
Intersex individuals are born with different variations of reproductive characteristics, which can lead to unnecessary surgery to alter their bodies to fit within the gender binary, Weigel said. Weigel, who was born intersex, has a history in politics and gave testimony against the bathroom bill in 2017. She now works throughout the Austin community and as a human rights commissioner for the city of Austin, advocating for inclusive legislation and better conditions for intersex individuals.
“I think for me it was just realizing that there are so few out intersex people that are doing this work, and so if I weren’t doing it, I would feel kind of guilty and like I missed my calling a little bit,” Weigel said.
Students for Equity and Diversity developed Diversity Dialogues to give students opportunities to further their understanding of intersectional issues. The event was held in the Multicultural Engagement Center and was the second Diversity Dialogue of the school year.
“The aim is to promote diversity in an interesting way, where we use student narratives,” said Imani White, a Students for Equity and Diversity member and international relations and global studies senior. “We use real life people to talk about their experiences.”
This is the first event discussing intersex education hosted by the organization. Katelyn Hobbs, a social work graduate student, attended the event for a class and said her affiliation with the LGBTQ community prompted her excitement to learn about intersex education.
“I’m a part of the LGBTQ community, but I don’t know a lot about the intersex identity,” said Hobbs. “I want to learn more so that I can be a better ally and hopefully take that into consideration.”
Weigel said she continues to educate students in hopes of influencing younger generations and creating a more inclusive future.
“I think y’all are going to be the next generation of leaders in the world,” Weigel said. “We can’t make the changes we need if (people) don’t know that we (intersex individuals) exist.”
The Students for Equity and Diversity will host their next event, a 5-week leadership program called the Multicultural Leadership Institute, starting on Feb. 11.