While traveling to the PFLAG’s National conference in Portland, this October 2017, I met Phyllis Gallisath the Founder and President of PFLAG Rockford Chapter. It was one of those serendipitous moments, where we discovered ourselves sitting on the plane together during my connection in Chicago. We introduced ourselves and quickly learned that we were both headed to the same conference! This was the beginning of a new and amazing relationship and some very long educational discussions around intersex.
During that time Phyllis opened her heart and her mind while learning the differences between LGBTQ and the special needs of us intersex people. While also seeing that a good number of us intersex people and parents of intersex kids, are without inclusive community and supports due also identifying as LGBTQ+.
I gave my presentation at the National Conference, as a workshop, and during it, I talk about adding the “I” responsibility to LGBTQ+. It is very important to me that the “I” is added with full responsibility and not carelessly. My job going to PFLAG’s National conference was in honor of all us intersex people and the parents of intersex kids. I am very excited to be doing this work! This would not be happening without my friends and supporters from Jacksonville PFLAG Chapter, so a huge thank you to them too!
Thank you, Phylis, for making your PFLAG Chapter the second!
I like to teach that gender is our personality and that a penis and a vagina does not create our gender identity. We are not assigned our personality, we just become it. Just like becoming left or right handed, or being able to be ambidextrous and use both hands. We now trust a child to choose if they are left handed, right handed or ambidextrous when they are very young.
This analogy of handedness can be used when an intersex child is born both and even holds true for any child. It holds true even if they are born with an endosex (not intersex) body. All children figure out their gender and they do it relatively young and before they even start grade school.
My Thoughts Regarding Intersex Children:
Here is the United Nations’ intersex FACT SHEET. I believe that genitals, reproductives systems, hormones, and chromosomes will never create our gender identity.
If we just relax and wait, I promise the baby will let the world know. All of us who were assigned wrong at birth have all proven that no expert, no chromosomal test, no MRI, CatScan or blood test can determine the gender of any of us 100% of the time. Yes, sometimes surgeries are medically necessary, but most the time they are only cosmetic and have horrible consequences. This means a lot of errors have been made and permanently so with non-reversible surgeries. I know too many un-happy intersex people to prove the experiment of assigning our gender surgically has failed miserably and has to stop. The obvious solution is to wait and let the baby decide their gender.
My Thoughts Regarding Transgender Children:
If we gave self-determination of gender to all humans, the diagnosis of gender dysphoria and the label ‘transgender’ would vanish too. It is our culture that has decided what genitals belong to what gender. Anything outside of that expectation is now called gender dysphoria. When I feel it is truly a case of cultural dysphoria around genitals and gender. However, the label transgender is very important to our culture right now, so we have to take on the discrimination that us transgender people face very seriously.
Yet, in the perfect world, if we gave self-determination to everyone, no one would have to transition or be diagnosed to do so. Birth Certificates would now only take note that a human was born. My friend, Mo Cortez, Intersex Advocate from Houston, once shared that maybe our blood type could be put on our birth certificate in place of male or female. Is our gender marker truly necessary on our birth certificate? Many feel it is not for many reasons.
One last note: Self-Determination is a human right, and only with consensual adults should genital cosmetic corrective surgeries be performed. No government should dictate that an adult trans person has to have gender confirmation surgeries to validate their identity. Surgery should remain a personal choice and not a requirement for a transition from one gender to the other. Sex reassignment surgeries are also a solution for severe forms of gender dysphoria and should always be available to those who require it. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) states:
“The medical procedures attendant to sex reassignment are not ‘cosmetic’ or ‘elective’ or for the mere convenience of the patient. These reconstructive procedures are not optional in any meaningful sense, but are understood to be medically necessary for the treatment of the diagnosed condition.”
Back to Intersex Natural Variations:
Right now intersex variations are diagnosed as medical conditions. When they are truly just naturally occurring natural bodily variations. Can you imagine if we gave a diagnosis to male or female? It is no different. Intersex is the biological sex of an intersex person. Just like anyone an intersex baby can grow up to have any gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. Surgeries are not going to keep these things from happening. Yes, there are going to be gay, lesbian, and transgender appearing intersex kids and people, and the world has to get over itself.
A Gender Self-Determining World:
If all children were no longer taught that their genitals made them a boy or a girl, and genital integrity was taught early on, wouldn’t this be a better world for intersex, transgender, and non-conforming people? I believe that ‘no body is shameful’ and that a person can be the personality of any gender: male, female, both or neither.
I also believe that it is not just intersex kids that need to learn that nobody is shameful. It is all of us humans, especially transgender children. Whom I feel are also being coerced to think they need genital surgeries when they grow up.
If everyone was given the self-determination of their gender, we might be very surprised to see a world emerge “gender nonconforming”:
There are three ways to be a gender non-conformist:
1) Our physical bodies appearing both or neither. We can be born biologically endosex (not intersex) or intersex.
2) Our Gender identity (our personality as male, female both or neither).
3) Our Gender Expression (how we dress, our hair, or appear to this world).
We can have one, two, or a mixture of these. As you can see there will be many words and labels that describe all these states of being too. I hope for a world that can evolve to stop thinking genitals create our gender and we can all just simply be with genital integrity.
Intersex Day of Remembrance, also known as Intersex Solidarity Day, is an international awareness day that aims to draw attention to the issues faced by members of the intersex community. It is observed on November 8, marking the birth anniversary of Herculine Barbin. Herculine was a hermaphrodite who wrote a memoir about their life and the tragedies they faced in the nineteenth century.
Today I will celebrate then and now, with an intersex child named Joey, who is getting the right to self-determine her own gender. I too have emancipated my true gender and my right to self-determination. The biggest problem we intersex people face is the forced assignment of gender as children, in the form of non-consensual genital surgeries, hormones, and psychiatric treatments. Together we have to work to stop these atrocities. To learn more about those of us born intersex, here is the United Nations Intersex Fact Sheet.
May we never forget that we walked among you then, and now. The Self-Determination of our own Gender is our Human Right.
By Herculine Barbin, Richard McDougall (Translator), Michel Foucault(introduction):
“With an eye for the sensual bloom of young schoolgirls & the torrid style of the romantic novels of her day, Herculine Barbin tells the story of her life as a hermaphrodite. Herculine was designated female at birth. A pious girl in a Catholic orphanage, a bewildered adolescent enchanted by the ripening bodies of classmates, a passionate lover of a schoolmistress, she’s suddenly reclassified as male. Alone & desolate, he commits suicide, aged 30, in a miserable Paris attic. Here’s a lost voice of the sexual past in an erotic diary. Provocative, articulate, eerily prescient as she imagines her corpse under the probing instruments of scientists, Herculine brings a disturbing perspective to our notions of sexuality. Foucault, who discovered these memoirs in the archives of the French Department of Public Hygiene, presents them with the graphic medical descriptions of Herculine’s body before & after death. In a striking contrast, a painfully confused young person & the doctors who examine her try to sort out the nature of masculine & feminine at the dawn of the age of modern sexuality.” “Herculine Barbin can be savored like a libertine novel. The ingenousness of Herculine, the passionate yet equivocal tenderness which thrusts her into the arms, even into the beds, of her companions, gives these pages a charm strangely erotic…Michel Foucault has a genius for bringing to light texts & reviving destinies outside the ordinary.”–Le Monde, 7/1978
It is impossible for me to please everyone in the intersex and transgender community. MLK Jr was NOT liked by all in his community. He moved forward anyway. I do the best I can to respect everyone.
I always say: when you have met ONE intersex person you have met ONE intersex person. Some of us are cis-gender (agree with our birth assignment) and heterosexual, and not needing nor wanting the support of the LGBTQ+ Rainbow. Yet, some of us appear LGBTQ+ and want those added supports. It is a balancing act as an educator of Gender/Intersex topics, and as an activist to try to please everyone. I have the best intentions always and am always open to suggestions. You can write me in the contact form below.
I do what I am doing mostly to save children from nonconsenting cosmetic genital surgeries and to teach the world to give ALL children the self-determination of gender.
I am not doing this for financial gain obviously. I am doing this to save children. I am not doing this for fame, to be a rock star or to be the most popular. I am doing this for children. I have made it very clear to the world that it is our self-determination that is a human right.
I have never excluded a soul, not even those who are NOT intersex. I say: Gender/intersex for a reason. Gender Identity/Biology. Both different but work together. This means I include transgender in my human rights quest.
No human being should be aborted, physically mutilated, psychiatrically violated, or coerced into having surgery due to laws, social stressors to conform, or being a psychosocial emergency. Those who conform should NOT be the only people who get privilege in society while casting out those who do not conform violently.
For those adults who do elect to have genital reassignment surgery, it is also our human right to alter our bodily appearance. However, these surgeries should never be done on non-consenting intersex children or due to the coercion of government laws claiming we have no choice but to do so to change our gender identity.
Last, I feel it is our human right to be who we are naturally, as intersex or transgender people, and to not have to abide to social rules at the cost of losing our fertility, orgasm and genital integrity. Unless of course, that is our choice to do so as a consenting adult.
I do not care how one labels themselves, or how one is diagnosed. Human Rights are Human Rights violations and this world has to stop hurting people.