Shortland Street viewers are praising the show after the soap opera introduced its first intersex character last night.

Two of the show's key characters Harper and Drew welcomed their first child Billy into the world during Wednesday night's episode. It was later revealed that Billy was intersex.

According to Intersex Awareness New Zealand, the term intersex is an umbrella term that includes over 30 conditions where the sexual anatomy or the chromosomes are not the standard male or female.

Previously the term hermaphrodite was commonly used but Intersex Awareness NZ said there is still a lot of controversy over the preferred terminology.


Intersex births occur in at least one in 2000 births.

Shortland Street shared a photo on social media last night saying "Welcome baby Billy."

Welcome baby Billy..❤️ #shortlandstreet

Posted by Shortland Street on Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The post was soon flooded with messages from viewers praising the show for the new storyline.

"I never thought in my entire time of watching soaps that I would finally see an intersex child," one person wrote. "It's very rare for this to happen, but I am fortunate to have a gorgeous baby who was born like this. Not something people talk about in case of ridicule or teasing and taunting. My baby is now 20 and happy to tell people how it is and is ultra confident."

Another wrote: "I think SS is revolutionary and it's awesome that their storylines are highly inclusive."

Other viewers were grateful to the show for educating them on the condition.

"Not only did I learn the term intersex is more appropriately used but I was taken by their choice of storyline and it's great. Well done Shorty St!" wrote one viewer.

"Thanks for teaching us something new Shorty. Affects 1 in 2000 people," shared another.

Characters Drew and Harper have welcomed the show's first intersex character. Photo / TVNZ
Characters Drew and Harper have welcomed the show's first intersex character. Photo / TVNZ

Not everyone saw the positive in the birth of baby Billy however, with some viewers calling the storyline "a bit over the top".

"This storyline is messed up why can't there just be normal baby either a boy or a girl not a bloody intersex baby," one commenter wrote.

Shortland Street was recently criticised for a storyline that suggested a pregnancy be terminated due to the possibility the baby was born with Down syndrome.

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association slammed the storyline as "insensitive and ignorant".

Shortland Street acknowledged it addressed a sensitive topic but stood by the storyline.

They said the show is known for tackling a range of challenging issues that New Zealanders face.