Model Hanne Gaby Odiele has revealed that she is intersex, opening up in an interview with USA Today.
"It is very important to me in my life right now to break the taboo," said the 28-year-old, referring to her decision to speak openly.
"At this point, in this day and age, it should be perfectly all right to talk about this."
The Belgium model shared her story on Instagram, posting a video explaining she had teamed up with non-profit organisation InterACT Adovcates for Intersex Youth.
"Today might be one of the most important days in my life, I've decided to announce with you all I'm #intersex, reads my story in USA Today," wrote Hanne.
"I want to bring awareness and put to light the irreversible unnecessary non consent surgeries we often go trough as kids."
Speaking to USA Today, Hanne revealed that she was born with an intersex trait known as AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) and with internal, undescended testes.
According to the model her parents were told that if she didn't have surgery to remove them, she "might develop cancer and I would not develop as a normal, female girl."
Hanne then underwent the surgery at 10 year old. "I knew at one point after the surgery I could not have kids," she said. "I was not having my period. I knew something was wrong with me."
Hanne also had vaginal reconstructive surgery. Talking to the publication, she revealed that while being intersex "is not that big of a deal", the two surgeries have caused major distress. "If they were just honest from the beginning... It became a trauma because of what they did."
Now, Hanne is sharing her story in the hope that others come forward with their own experiences and stop surgeries on children before they can give consent.
Hanne is married to model John Swiatek, who told USA Today that he was proud of his wife for opening up about her story.
"I am very impressed with her decision to advocate for intersex children in order to give them an opportunity to make up their own minds about their bodies, unlike the lack of options and information Hanne and her family (and many others) were given," he said.
Rounding off her interview, Hanne said: "You can be whoever you want. It doesn't matter."