Hanne Gaby Odiele Opens Up About Being Intersex In Major Fragrance Campaign

"It will be huge to see themselves represented."

In January 2017, model Hanne Gaby Odiele revealed she was intersex. According to the Intersex Society of North America, "intersex" is "a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male." The Belgian native was one of the first public figures to open up about it, which has helped raise awareness and break down taboos.  

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"At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this," she told USA Today.

She said she was speaking out in an effort to stop medical procedures in which children undergo surgeries to appear more "typically male or female" without their consent.

A year-and-a-half since she made her announcement, Odiele is part of the Maison Margiela "Mutiny" fragrance campaign and openly talking about being intersex.

The campaign features women who celebrate diversity, individuality and being their authentic selves. In addition to Odiele, the campaign features singer-actress-model Willow Smith, actress Sasha Lane, model and trans woman Teddy Quinlivan and rapper Destiny Frasqueri aka Princess Nokia.

In Odiele's video, she proclaims, "I think that gender in general is something that is bullshit. It's made up to put people in a box."

"I was born intersex," she continues. "... A lot of people live with it alone and in secrecy, and feel very ashamed. [...] You can be whoever you want, whatever you want, you can dress however you want."

In an interview with Glamour, she spoke about telling her story in a major campaign and how she hopes others will be able to connect with it.

"For others, it will be huge to see themselves represented," she explained. "To see the word 'intersex' printed out in a commercial is something I never saw growing up."

She also told Refinery29 that she hopes to increase awareness about intersex surgeries. "Intersex genital surgery still happens today. Medical surgeries that are unnecessary and irreversible and have harmful consequences ... It's happening less, but there's still no protection for intersex children around the world. This is something that needs to end."

Quinlivan discusses gender and what it was like growing up transgender in her video. 

"When I was growing up, I was always extremely attracted to femininity. I was willing to give up everything for it," she revealed. "... Coming out as a trans woman, I couldn't just wait for someone to destigmatize what it means to be transgender."

The model and advocate says, "I want to be that role model to the transgender girl, or boy, or whoever, in high school who is confused and scared and doesn't have anywhere to turn."

Scroll down to see more videos and photos from the campaign:

Cover image via  Ovidiu Hrubaru I Shutterstock

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