She’s walked for everyone from Alexander Wang to Chanel to Prada, but 29-year-old Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele has never before spoken publicly about the issue closest to her heart: androgen insensitivity syndrome.
Hanne was born intersex but didn’t find out until she was 17, despite undergoing multiple surgeries since childhood and being on hormone replacement therapy since she was 10, she has revealed to USA Today and US Vogue.
The model, who married her long-term boyfriend and fellow model John Swiatek in upstate New York in July 2016, has shared her story to raise awareness of her condition and protest against surgeries performed on intersex children when she says they’re too young to give consent.
Hanne was born with XY chromosomes and internal undescended testes, which were removed when she was 10, but she was never told the truth about the reasons behind the various surgical procedures she was having.
Hanne’s parents were told the testes must be removed or she risked developing cancer.
“I am proud to be intersex, but very angry that these surgeries are still happening,” Hanne says. “If they were just honest from the beginning… it became a trauma because of what they did.”
Now, Hanne has partnered with InterACT Advocates for Intersex Youth to spread her message. Watch her powerful video below: