Dating while genderqueer
Last year, the South African track athlete Caster Semenya, then just 18, was subjected to chromosome testing and a humiliating media furore when it was discovered she had no ovaries or uterus, as well as unusually high testosterone levels.
This is largely due to the hugely influential 1960s "optimal gender policy" of psychologist John Money, and his famous assertion that nurture could override nature.Last year she set up Project Silverfish, a support service for intersex and transgender people, whom she describes as "the most marginalised minority community in London".Named after her friend, the transgender DJ and music producer Alex Silverfish, who committed suicide in 2008 following years of harassment, the project offers its users practical advice and advocacy, and has just launched its first therapeutic support sessions.Most people are 'hard-wired' to a gender identity, whether this is male, female or something in between." Hayes-Light, now 48, was himself born with an extremely rare intersex condition, 5-Alpha-Reductase Deficiency (5-ARD), in which the chromosomes are XY, but the body is unable to convert testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which is necessary for the formation of full male genitalia."This was the early 1960s; I was a lab rat, a medical curiosity.It also delivers training to charities and social services.
Addams, who last December won a Home Office Community Engagement Award for her work, explains that while transgenderism and intersexuality are not the same (the former is not a medical condition), "it's not uncommon for trans people to discover later in life that they're intersex".
"I was then asked if I wanted to take oestrogen tablets, to push my body through a female puberty," he remembers.
"I refused." Despite this troubled and confusing start to life, Hayes-Light considers himself one of the lucky ones: "I shudder to think what I'd be like now if I'd been forced to transition." Adele Addams wasn't given such a choice.
The prevalence of corrective surgery is in part responsible for our general ignorance about intersexuality, which is far more widespread than most of us realise; the number of live births displaying "genital dimorphism" is estimated at approximately one in every 2,000.
That means there could be as many as 30,000 intersexed people currently living in Britain, a figure that becomes even greater when taking into account all those who only discover their condition at puberty, or when they try to have children.
What saved me from being poked and prodded – and operated on – was the fact that my mother was a doctor." Advised that he would be "a very happy little girl", Hayes-Light's mother nevertheless declined surgery for her son.