Tony Briffa (she/her) is the president of Intersex Peer Support Australia (IPSA). Tony was born with an intersex variation called androgen insensitivity syndrome. This means that although Tony’s body looks female on the outside, she had some typical male traits internally. ‘I was subjected to a lot of unnecessary intervention without my consent when I was a child,’ says Tony.
Tony’s experience is not unique. It shows a lack of understanding and knowledge that starts at birth for the estimated 113,000 Victorians with an intersex variation. The view that there is something wrong or disordered about having an intersex variation can lead to feelings of shame and stigma for some.
‘Having an intersex variation is still often treated like a shameful secret.’
Established in 1985, IPSA is run by and for people with an intersex variation. It aims to provide support to people with an intersex variation and their families, raise awareness of intersex variations and tackle stigma. IPSA delivers training on how to be a good intersex ally. It teaches how to combat misconceptions that blend intersex with gender, including being trans or gender diverse.
‘The importance of peer support… cannot be overstated. It is often life changing...’
The Victorian Government has supported IPSA to roll out YellowTick. YellowTick is a community-led initiative that helps groups to improve intersex inclusion and develop affirmative practices for programs, clients and staff. YellowTick raises awareness about people with an intersex variation, helps reduce shame and stigma and creates better allies.