Hanne Gaby Odiele, Belgian supermodel and intersex human rights activist (© Wikimedia)

A group of women talk of their experiences with a rare condition: intersexuality. They are women who have the male XY chromosome. One was forcibly raised as a boy. One only found out about her condition accidentally when she was a teenager. And one was kept in the dark about it deliberately by doctors.

About 1 baby in 20,000 is born intersex. Often these infants can be clearly seen to be belonging to one sex, but a small percentage of them are born with ambiguous genitalia, and in the past doctors made a unilateral decision about which sex they thought the child belonged to. Sometimes they even performed surgery without properly consulting or informing the parents. That practice has been banned in the Netherlands, but although medical personnel and lay people are more open to variations in sexuality these days, people with an intersex condition still find the subject very difficult to bring out in the open.

Producer: Dheera Sujan

Broadcast: June 21, 2004