Being intersex relates to biological sex characteristics.

It is not the same as transgender: someone whose gender identity — how they feel inside — does not correspond with their birth sex.

Some individuals leave medical care altogether because they are so angry at what physicians did to them before they were the age of consent.”And there is tremendous resentment of parents, she says.

Kids think “something was done to me; you felt I wasn’t perfect; I had to be fixed.”Awareness of intersex issues is slowly evolving, says Zieselman, who notes that many people don't even know what intersex means.

“It is an important part of my life to talk about this,” says Odiele, whose story will also appear in the issue of magazine that hits newsstands Wednesday.

Odiele has been more open about her status in the past year with close friends and trusted associates — particularly during chats about periods or having babies — but this is her first public announcement.

I knew something was wrong with me.”At 18, Odiele — whose modeling career took root when she was discovered a year earlier at a music festival in Belgium — underwent an equally distressing procedure in the form of vaginal reconstructive surgery.“It’s not that big of a deal being intersex,” she says.

But the anguish of the two surgeries is an issue for her that is still troubling today. It became a trauma because of what they did.”AWARENESS AND OUTRAGEKimberly Zieselman, executive director of inter ACT Advocates for Intersex Youth, says Odiele will be a powerful champion for the intersex community and will help thrust medical procedures that try to “fix” intersex kids into the harsh focus they deserve.

Beyond giving a voice to people who are often in the shadows, Odiele is making this disclosure to spotlight medical procedures intersex children undergo without their consent in a misguided effort to make a child appear more typically male or female.

Now, the veteran of the runway and city sidewalks is revealing a more intimate piece of herself: Odiele is intersex.“It is very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo,” says the 29-year-old supermodel from Kortrijk, Belgium, in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY.“At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this,” says Odiele, one of the first high-profile people to disclose her intersex status and share her story.

Intersex individuals are born with sex characteristics such as genitals or chromosomes that do not fit the typical definitions of male or female.

Zieselman says Odiele will partner with her advocacy group.

“I think her speaking out, having her voice added to the mix is going to culturally raise awareness in the mainstream,” she says, noting that groups such as the U. and the World Health Organization already condemn these surgeries as human rights violations.

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