Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Intersex Awareness Day!

Thank you to all of you doing awesome activist work around intersex. Thank you, intersex individuals, for being brave enough to look deep into your selves and choose to share your experiences and perspectives with us. Thank you, amazing intersex allies for seeking to educate yourself and others about intersex, and why nonconsensual medical procedures that don't track intersex peoples' health is so obviously wrong.

Thank you for reading this blog, and for celebrating Intersex Awareness Day in your own way. If you are comfortable, please mention IAD to someone who has not encountered intersex before, "like" or post about IAD or an intersex issue online (e.g., blogs, Facebook, Twitter) and spread the knowledge that intersex individuals exist, and we are pretty great :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

This Is Seriously Historic

The first fully intersex-inclusive anti-discrimination bill EVER, IN THE WORLD has been proposed a few days ago in Australia. And it could pass! This is HUGE news!

Since intersex individuals are not recognized legally, we have no protection from discrimination. This is the first step toward changing that.

Yaaaay! This is so exciting!


Intersexions Documentary

Check out the trailer, and tell me you don't want to see it.

There's nowhere on the Internet that I know of where you can see a non-bottlegged copy (where the images aren't reversed...meh). I really want to see this, and am excited about it.

Any of you seen it yet? How was it?! :D

Intersex Awareness Day 2012 Events in NYC!

Hi, everyone! Just wanted to let you know that for all of you near NYC, two Intersex Awareness Day events are scheduled!

I am absolutely thrilled that Hida Viloria will be joining us again for the IAD events. She is an intersex activist currently based in LA that chairs Organization Intersex International (OII) and has done a ton of great stuff. Check her out at

This year, we're focusing less on intersex basics than we have in the past two years. We will absolutely be covering some intersex 101 stuff, because it's really important to ensure that all participants are on the same page as to what intersex is and why intersex activism exists. However, we want to have a broader conversation about relevant topics in intersex activism, including LGBTI inclusiveness, creating a visible intersex identity, how binary sex legislation affects intersex rights, and how to be a good ally. The two events will be similar in the issues discussed and their scope, so if you can't make one, you'll get a bunch of the same stuff in the other one. :)

Friday, Oct 26
New York University
Global Center, Room 383

Saturday, Oct 27
Bluestockings Bookstore, Cafe, and Activist Center
27 Allen Street

Hida and I have been making plans about topics to generate discussion, and we are so excited to share with you! We hope to see you there! :)

Child's-Eye-View on Intersex: X-Men = Awesome.

Hi, everyone! I've been thinking about how my views about what intersex is, who I am, and what it means to be/identify as intersex have changed drastically over time. When I first learned I was intersex, I was 14. I was told that it was a medical condition, that I once had testes but they were removed, and that I might not be able to have "normal sex" with my husband someday because my vaginal canal might not be long enough to accomodate a penis. Today, almost a decade and a half later, I'm 28. I've rejected the medical model of intersex - that it's a congenital deficiency, and understand that intersex bodies are normal variations of biological sex. I understand that no one had any right to remove parts of my body that were not causing me health problems, and I wish I had been given the agency to keep all my own parts. I understand that the only "normal sex" that exists is the kind of sex you want to have, and that penis-in-the-vagina sort of sex between a male and a female is not more "normal" or better than other kinds of sex. I understand that even if I had a vaginal canal that wasn't long enough to comfortably accomodate a penis, that doesn't mean my sex life would need to suffer. Besides, it turned out that I'm gay - I don't really want to "accomodate a penis" anyway. (All I can picture with this image is a vulva acting as a hostess to a penis who's visited, offering Dick Dickerson cookies and making sure it's comfortable. Like, "accomodate" just seems funny to use in this way. Yes? No? Yes?)

So, things are pretty different nowadays. And that's awesome. But it's kind of funny what my kid-brain thought about intersex. I want to start a new segment on this blog called "Child's-Eye-View," where I talk about how kids' experiences of intersex may differ from what their adult experiences are like. I'm excited about doing it, and hope that you are, too! :)

The first thing I want to talk about is X-Men. (Obviously.)

So, I really liked superheroes when I was younger, and still do. I feel like most kids dig the idea of superheroes - of being special, of being powerful and assertive, of being able to help people, of being able to save yourself and others. Of being in control, and being really nifty and supernatural while you're doing it. Side note: If I could pick one superpower, it would definitely be telekinesis. I WANT TO PICK THINGS UP AND MOVE THEM AROUND WITH MY MIND, THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!

But anyway.

The aspects of superheroes I want to talk about are being special, and being in control. I really gravitated toward the X-Men for a bunch of reasons. Besides the fact that they were superheroes, and had more than one female superhero on the squad, the whole reason that they were superheroes to begin with was because they had GENETIC MUTATIONS. Their having superpowers was because they had a genetic mutation that enabled them to do these awesome things, and they could even use their awesomeness for good. Watching that show as a kid, it was a powerful perspective, to see individuals that had a genetic mutation (= usually thought of as bad), but knowing that their genetic mutations actually had positive benefits.

X-Men was also provocative in that it didn't shy away from broader discussions about what's "normal" and what's "good." Lots of individuals in the X-Menverse rejected the idea that these mutants should be able to just walk around with other humans and be treated with basic respect. Non-mutants rallied for mutants to be medically altered (via a vaccine, or medical means) that would cancel out the effects of their mutations. That they would now be considered a "normal" human by removing something that they were naturally born with.

Sound a bit familiar?

Many clinicians and parents feel that they are helping their children by altering their bodies without their consent. I think that probably many of the non-mutants in X-Men world thought that they were doing good things for their mutant friends and family, too. They just wanted the best for them...they wanted to help them. Fixing their mutant kids was giving them a passport to a better life where they'd be normal - they'd know where they belonged. But most mutants didn't want to change. That's why the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters was created, to provide a safe space for mutant youth to grow and get schooling without the pressure of conforming to be a typical non-mutant. The vast majority of the world saw X-Men and their ilk as problematic people that needed to be fixed, and that it was messed up not to fix them. Then, there was a minority of people who knew that X-Men were as normal as non-mutants. That they were just people, and there was no reason why they should have to change themselves and their bodies just to fit a certain standard of normal that wasn't real.

I identified with the X-Men a lot.

I knew that my intersex wouldn't allow me to be able to control fire or walk through solid objects or become invisible or to fly. But it was still a powerful way to view my body - not as something not normal or tainted or broken, that needed fixing and approval from the "normals." No. My body was totally fine, and in fact, it was awesome. Maybe my body's uniqueness had things about it that were good, not in spite of having intersex traits, but because of it. Maybe it wasn't that I was abnormal, but that the world's vision of "normal" wasn't accurate because it didn't have space to include me. Maybe I was just fine the way I am, and I didn't have to feel bad or shameful about being this weirdo, I-don't-even-know-what-I-am thing. I was a worthwhile human being who happened to be intersex. It was comforting to consider that my difference was, at worst, something neutral that wasn't actually a big deal, and at best, something awesome that should be celebrated, something I could be proud of.

X-Men, and comics in general I think, are seen as being for kids. But I know a lot of adults who read comics and graphic novels, and I understand why. Like other forms of art and story, comics often touch upon very adult, sociological themes. I wonder what the world would look like if more people picked up an X-Men comic with intersex in mind. Would the discrimination against the X-Men be so hard to translate into the human rights abuses that are committed against intersex individuals?

I don't think so. What do you think?