The intersex flag was created in 2013 by Intersex Human Rights Australia (previously known as Organisation Intersex International Australia); they created the flag to be, “not derivative, but is yet firmly grounded in meaning”. The organization describes the yellow and the purple as, “hermaphrodite“ colors; they describe the purple circle as, “unbroken and unornamented, symbolizing wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities. We are still fighting for bodily autonomy and genital integrity, and this symbolizes the right to be who and how we want to be.”
The intersex flag has been used by a wide range of media and human rights organizations; in June of 2018, intersex activists participated in Utrecht Canal Pride. In addition, in May of 2018, New Zealand became the first country to wave the intersex outside the national parliament.
Intersex describes someone who is born with a variety of sex characteristics, and this includes; chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies.” There are many different variations, and some variations may include genital ambiguity, or chromosomal genotype and sexual characteristics other than XY-male and XX-female. Intersex individuals were referred to as hermaphrodites, “congenital eunuchs”, or congenitally “frigid”. These terms have since become unpopular; particularly, the term “hermaphrodite” is considered misleading and stigmatizing.
The existence of intersex people predates modern culture; the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus wrote of “Hermaphroditus” in the first century BCE. He wrote that, Hermaphroditus, “is born with a physical body which is a combination of that of a man and that of a woman”, and that they had supernatural properties.
In European societies, Roman Law, post-classical canon law, and later common law, people’s biological sex was divided into male, female and hermaphrodite, and they had legal rights depending on what characteristics are more dominant. Additionally, in some non-European countries, sex or gender systems may have allowed for more inclusive options, which included both intersex and transgender individuals. However, such societies have been labeled as, “primitive”, while Morgan Holmes argues that such analysis has been simplified or romanticized, and it has failed to take into account how they are treated.