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DCU research project launches survey focusing on the lived experiences of intersex people in Ireland

DCU research project launches survey focusing on the lived experiences of intersex people in Ireland

A new DCU research survey has been launched to find out and understand more about the experiences of intersex people living in Ireland.

According to the UN 1.7% of the population are intersex to some degree.

It is the first time in Ireland that research into the lives of intersex people has been undertaken and it will form part of the Intersex Mapping Project at Dublin City University.

Intersex describes bodies with sex characteristics that do not align along typical female or male lines.

For example, a person may have a different combination of chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones or genitals to what might be expected.

The difference refers to “variations of sex characteristics” (VSC).

The research, led by Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile, DCU School of Law and Government, examines the life experiences of intersex people such as their interaction with the healthcare system, education, employment and their overall day to day life.

The project also considers the perspectives of health care professionals regarding intersex and it analyses Irish legislation to understand if it offers the same protection to intersex people compared to the non-intersex population.

To date, public awareness of the topic of intersex has been limited as it is a largely unknown issue within Irish society.

The research team have highlighted that being intersex does not ordinarily impair a person’s life or physical health. This project aims to uncover the Irish intersex story.

The survey is directed at uncovering how Irish intersex people experience the world around them.

Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile, DCU School of Law & Government said,

“This is a really exciting opportunity for intersex people to share their stories with us.

To date, the issue has been largely secret and hidden resulting in an untold story. International research tells us that this secrecy is the epicentre of the negative experiences that some intersex people have.

We hope that this survey will bring to light information about intersex in Ireland so that, as a society, we can learn from these experiences and become more inclusive and welcoming of all people.”

The new President of DCU Professor Daire Keogh said,

“By inviting members of one of society’s least visible groups to tell their stories, this survey promises to greatly increase our understanding of the challenges facing intersex people in Ireland.

1.7% of the population is thought to be intersex to some degree, yet their lived experiences remain largely hidden.

This pionering research will foster awareness of intersex people in Ireland and enable us to embrace difference.

That insight will advance inclusion and inform the creation of progressive public policy to support this significant section of our community.”


Survey Link

The survey is now live online and available here

Project Title

Mapping the Lived Experience of Intersex/Variations of Sex Characteristics in Ireland: Contextualising Lay and Professional Knowledge to Enable Development of Appropriate Law and Policy

Research Team

PI: Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile. School of Law and Government.

Co-PI: Prof Anthony Staines. School of Nursing, Psychotherapy & Community Health.

AI: Dr Mel Duffy. School of Nursing, Psychotherapy & Community Health.

PD: Dr Maria Feeney. School of Law and Government.

Funding Partners

The project is funded by the Irish Research Council IRC COALESCE 2019/156

*In 2016, the United Nations estimated that approximately 1.7% of babies born across the world are intersex.

That’s about 80,950 people living in Ireland based on the 2016 Census total population of 4.67 million.