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This supermodel has revealed she is intersex to 'break the taboo'


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Belgian supermodel Hanne Gaby Odiele has released a YouTube video revealing she is intersex in an effort to raise awareness of the discrimination and abuse intersex people suffer.

The 29-year-old model, who has graced the catwalks of Marc Jacobs, Dior and Versace and appeared in Vogue magazine, told USA Today: “It is very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo.”

The video appeared on Monday on the website of the charity InterACT.

Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that don’t fit into typical binary notions of male or female bodies. These can be different genitals or internal organs or chromosomal differences.

They are often subjected to surgery to assign them a sex due to societal pressures rather than medical necessity. In some cases the UN says this may amount to a human rights violation.

Odiele has joined interACT to campaign for intersex people to be able to choose their own identity.

“It is time for intersex people to come out of the shadows, claim our status, let go of shame, and speak out against the unnecessary and harmful surgeries many of us were subjected to as children,” Odiele said.

People with intersex characteristics make up 0.5 – 1.7% of the world population. The upper estimate is around the same as the proportion of red-heads, according to the UN.

Kimberley Zieselman, interACT’s executive director, welcomed Odiele’s statement, saying “We congratulate Hanne for her courage in sharing her intersex status with the world.

“We are extremely grateful to have her join interACT’s efforts in strongly advocating for the protection of intersex children from harmful medical treatment and surgery.”

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