Posted on February 3, 2016 by Tia Lalani

“Is it a boy or a girl?” It’s the first question we ask when a baby is born. What if it’s neither? New Zealand spokesperson Mani Mitchell hosts a series of talks at Augustana on the subject.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” It’s the first question we ask when a baby is born.

What if it’s neither?

One in every 2000 people are born with bodies that fall somewhere between male and female. Being intersex may be as common as having red hair, but taboo and stigma keep many intersex people in the closet.

It may not be uncommon, but it is unheard of.

Invasive “normalizing” surgeries are performed on intersex children across the world to make their genitals fit the male or female norm.

Mani with daisyMani Bruce Mitchell, New Zealand’s first “out” intersex person and recipient of the New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Award, will be at Augustana from February 8 to 11 to explore this little-discussed section of the human gender spectrum.

  • What is it like to grow up in a body that doesn’t fit neatly into the male or female categories?
  • Why is this relatively common condition so unknown?
  • What is it about intersexuals that makes the rest of us so uncomfortable?

Born with what doctors call “ambiguous genitalia”, Mani was christened as a boy in rural New Zealand but grew up as a girl after surgery to feminize their* body. They always felt different to their brothers and sister – but it wasn’t until their 40s that they finally discovered their medical records and the truth of their intersex birth.

An intersex child is born in Alberta every two weeks. However, since the subject is never discussed, every new parent of an intersex child believes they face a rare medical emergency. New Zealand therapist and intersex rights advocate Mani Mitchell seeks to bring this unspoken situation to public attention.

07-10Feb - augustana human library Events

07-10Feb – augustana human library Events

Mitchell established the world’s first charitable trust for intersex people nearly 20 years ago. They are a passionate and dedicated advocate for the community.

Mani at Augustana

Mani Mitchell will be in Camrose from Sunday, February 7 to Thursday, February 11. Please see the attached schedule or visit for more information.


* You might have noticed the use of the pronoun “they” in referring to Mani Mitchell. At the 15th augustana human library, we will distribute a handout on language and pronouns related to gender diversity. As a person who identifies as neither female nor male, Mani prefers the use of the pronoun “they”.

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