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Hanne Gaby Odiele

Hanne is a Belgian model and activist who fights for the voice of intersex people to be heard. Hanne was born intersex and has made it a mission to raise awareness and promote intersex rights. When Hanne was born, they were minus the ovaries or a uterus. On the opposite spectrum, Hanne’s body rejected testosterone.

Intersex in its simplest form can be observed as a merge of female and male traits. This may be compared to overlapping characteristics between genders that do not fit the “norm” in a general understanding. Throughout research, intersex qualities can be recognised in just short of 2% of the population worldwide.

Breaking the Mould

From gracing the covers of Czechoslovakia Vogue to Antidote, Hanne is an aspirational person who believes there are no limits to what you can achieve. Hanne likes to break the mould and diminish stereotypes of femininity and masculinity. Choice is key to Hanne’s beliefs.

Hanne has worked closely with InterAct – a charity that strives to bring about change for the treatment of people with intersex characteristics – be that physically, mentally or societally. This has contributed to Hanne’s success in spreading the word. Hanne has become a role model and ambassador that people can connect with and trust. InterAct wants justice for intersexuals.

Growing Up

As a child, Hanne spent a lot of her summers undergoing surgery, although the reasons for it were always left vague. Hormone tablets were also prescribed from a young age. Hanne’s family followed medical advice and were under the impression the operations were necessary for Hanne’s wellbeing. In reality, however, standard procedure was always to force the body into one sex or the other so the surgery was carried out to meet societal expectations of gender and relationships.

Education and understanding of intersex people needs to drastically improve. Hanne still endures terrible memories of her childhood operations. It is imperative to stop this happening to others. Children should not feel vulnerable and forced to consent to any changes or unnecessary surgery.

Hanne’s family lends their full support and encouragement to promoting wider communication and education about intersex people. There are now multiple options for people in the same situation to seek help and clarity. Hanne is signed to Women Management New York and has successfully modelled for the likes of Mulberry and Givenchy. There have been challenges in the industry, but it is important to push through and continue to grow as a person.

Having intersex qualities has allowed Hanne to develop a successful modelling career since the age of 17, driving change and making a statement in the world of fashion. Hanne is proud of the intersexuality, not only to have the ability to shed light on a personal situation, but to connect and educate others.

Having a wonderful support network encouraged openness within Hanne to reveal the intersexuality in 2017. This received a very positive reaction. Love is not restricted by one box, a certain gender or relationship. Hanne wants the intersex community to know they are loved.

Traditional gender restrictions are more commonly understood and this can leave people who have intersex qualities feeling repressed. Hanne wants inclusivity for all and the same acceptance for intersexuals.


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