Hanne Gaby Odiele is not your typical model. Case-in-point: she just came out as intersex.
The Belgian model recently chatted with USA Today about coming out and teaming up with nonprofit InterACT to advocate for intersex youth.
“It is very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo. At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this”
The 29-year-old is particularly passionate about intersex children who are forced to undergo surgery without their consent in order to make them “more” male or female.
“I am proud to be intersex but very angry that these surgeries are still happening.”
As for Odiele, she herself experienced this as a child. She has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and thus was born with XY chromosomes and undescended testes.
When she was 10, she had surgery to remove the testes after her parents told her that if she didn’t she “might develop cancer and I would not develop as a normal, female girl.”
At the time though, she could barely understand what was going on.
“I knew at one point after the surgery I could not have kids, I was not having my period. I knew something was wrong with me.”
Looking back, she wishes that her parents had just told her the truth about what was going on.
“It’s not that big of a deal being intersex. If they were just honest from the beginning… It became a trauma because of what they did.”
Now Odiele wants to be an advocate for intersex children and prove that the condition is no big deal.
“You can be whoever you want. It doesn’t matter.”