Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy International Intersex Solidarity Day!

Today, we celebrate intersex people by remembering our past - specifically, by honoring the life of Herculine de Barbin, a 19th c French intersex person, who tragically committed suicide following the discovery of her intersex status and subsequent court trial (yes, court trial) to determine whether she was "really" a man or a woman.

You can learn more about the life of Herculine Barbin by reading her published diary (with a foreward by Michel Focault), available on Amazon. Keeping with the time in which it was written, there is a lot of stigmatization and sensationalization surrounding Herculine's thoughts on her own body, and her attempts to conceal these secrets from those around her - experiences that are, unfortunately, still extremely common today. In Focault's foreward, as well as the yucky afterward - where medical professionals speculate as to her "medical condition" and "true" sex in excerpts from her medical documents - are also intersexphobic in terms of the language used and how intersex is conceptualized (i.e., as a medical problem). However, it's important to understand intersex people and history from other intersex people; the fact that a first-hand account of what it meant to be intersex in the 1800's is valuable an important. It's definitely worth giving Barbin's book a read.

Happy international intersex solidarity day! May we recognize that intersex people exist, that there's nothing wrong with our bodies as they naturally are, and understand the consequences of how societal discrimination affects (and ends) intersex peoples' lives.

Vive les personnes intersexuées! (Long live intersex people!)

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