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Top Belgian Model Comes Out As Intersex To Help Others

Top model says she's intersex

Brave Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele has revealed that she is intersex, and was born with undescended testes that doctors removed when she was 10.

“It’s very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo,” Hanne, 29, tells USA Today.

“At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this.”

The runway and fashion supermodel from Kortrijk hopes that telling her story will help the 1.7 percent of people born intersex, and lower the rate of surgeries to remove unformed reproductive organs that often occur before children can give consent.

“I am proud to be intersex, but very angry that these surgeries are still happening,” adds the fearless fashion star.

Hanne admits that doctors told her parents that the surgery was essential because she might develop cancer and would not develop as a normal, female girl.

Because she was so young at the time, Hanne says she didn’t fully understand what was happening, and wishes now she had more of a say.

“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,” she says.

“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.”

Hanne, who married her husband, model John Swiatek, just a few months ago, started opening up about being intersex, and doesn’t expect her announcement to create problems in the modelling world.

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“They will see me as they have before,” she says. “Nothing should change.”

But she hopes things do change for others born intersex.

“It is an important part of my life to talk about this,” she says. “You can be whoever you want. It doesn’t matter.”

It’s not the first time the topic of intersex has made headlines. South African runner Caster Semenya garnered attention during the 2016 Olympic Games coverage. Numerous reports claimed the athlete was intersex, although she has yet to speak about it, reported NPR. She went on to win the gold in the 800m race.

Written by James Graham

With over 20 years as a journalist and TV producer, The Carousel Editor James Graham has a wealth of experience covering the full media spectrum.

James has a formidable reputation as a talented media veteran and worked as a reporter, script writer and as the producer of the TV documentary The Road To Athens.

He has worked across newspapers, radio and the biggest flagship magazine brands in Australia and New Zealand. Previously, James was the News Director at Woman's Day and New Idea.

Whether filing celebrity exclusives, or some of the biggest real-life splashes of recent years, James’ career has always been at the frontline of mainstream media.

When not in the Ed’s chair, you’ll find him at Royal Randwick, his beloved Long Reef Golf Club on the Northern Beaches – or visiting his mum in his native New Zealand.


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