Sunday, July 5, 2009

What's Up With This Blog?

Hi, everyone! Whether you sought out this site or unintentionally linked to it (and found yourself saying "Huh? Intersex what?!"), WELCOME! This blog serves a few functions:

1) Education and awareness of intersex (e.g., what forms of intersex there are, how many intersex people exist, etc.)

2) Education and awareness of intersex experiences (e.g., testimonies in addressing intersex with clinicians, family members,friends, lovers; identity and perception {of self, of others, and by self}; emotional landscape of intersex people and/or their loved ones, doctors, etc.)

3) Introduction to intersex organizations and events, support groups, etc.

4) Address how intersex is depicted, explained, and perceived in mainstream media (e.g., in fictional television, in books, on talk-shows, etc.)

Despite the fact that I've known I am intersex since I was 14, I have not explored it nearly as much as I intend to. The general sentiment expressed by my clinicians was that my body was not simply private, but something that should never be discussed - ever. By anyone, to anyone, for any reason outside our family. PRETEND YOU ARE NORMAL AT ALL COSTS. This meant to go so far as to bring tampons to college when I had absolutely no use for them, don super-femme dress and makeup and jewelry for the every day (failed miserably!), and bemoan my menstrual cycle with other female classmates when I actually no idea what having a period was like.

Hearing time and time again that WHAT YOU ARE must never be spoken of made me feel monstrous and shameful of my condition. I was a closeted freak. I would never find romantic love, because how could I tell a future partner? I would never know if I would truly gain acceptance from my whole family, because only my nuclear family knew I was intersex. I wasn't sure how to perceive myself, how to act in public, how to dress, which bathroom to use...but couldn't explain my bizarre actions to anyone. When you are so uncomfortable with your body and sense of self, you just shut down. You tell yourself lies about who and what you are to make yourself feel better. Feel that you have a place in society, have a well-worn path to travel down in which your role has already been pre-planned for you.

Well, the well-worn path is crap. It's not fun, and I hate it. It's less a path and more a crater, swallowing you up and banishing all of your individuality to a dark corner to die. Each person is a collection of traits - some of them contradict each other, and many of them don't conform to our perceived stereotypes. ("THAT'S your favorite hobby?! But a gentleman/lady/elementary school educator/secretary/neurosurgeon/sex worker/florist doesn't do that!") These are some of the most beautiful qualities a person possesses - those that don't necessarily match up to your expectations, that (after the shock settles in) seem to embody that person most. Now I realize that, as an intersex person, it's kind of liberating not having a path to follow. But this liberation is more theoretical than actualized since I look like a female, and am thus expected to generally conform to my perceived gender role.

But more on that later. ;)

The reason I share this information is that due to the shame imposed by secrecy, I never fully explored my condition and the dozens of others under the intersex umbrella. What they mean. What our bodies are like. Why it's seen as a medical condition when our bodies are normal, natural, and beautiful as they are. How we feel about ourselves, others, and our societal perceptions. Now that I've come to accept my intersex, I'm trying to more fully integrate it into my life. And part of that process is accruing knowledge and gaining understanding into the biological mechanisms and emotional lives of intersex individuals, their loved ones, and their clinicians. Through my own process of self- and other- discovery, I hope to accompany you as you start or continue your own process, too. Let's help each other, learn from each other. If there's anything to take away from intersex, it's to challenge your assumptions and explore other viewpoints. Intersex has helped me become more open-minded in this way.

My posts will likely be sporadic and of varying length - some just a few words with a link to an article or website, others long-winded with lots of questions and ideas and opportunity for discourse. I am not promising to update on a particular day, or for a certain number of times per week because I don't want this blog to become a chore, another check off the to-do list. I want each post to come from a desire to write and share. Otherwise, it's gonna be reeeeeeeeeeeally boring for you, too. If I have more time and feel inspired, I might post a lot, and other times might go through a Blogger dry-spell. A little go-with-the-flow will be required.

But isn't that what this blog is all about anyway? ;)


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