Above Picture is part of the series of: Born Perfect Baby Memes, By Mx. Anunnaki Ray
Below is the heart wrenching letter that was sent to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, from a parent of an intersex little girl, asking them to change the verbiage of “Disorder of Sexual Development” to “natural variation”. I share this to show the huge tragedy, and constant battle we have in getting the correct definition of intersex out there, so that all this tragedy can end:
As a parent of an intersex beauty, I would not like to refer to her as having a disorder. It was brought to my attention that an upcoming article titled “Gender Revolution” address intersex individuals in a way that will only stigmatize them even more. Your words are powerful and for society to read that intersex individuals are associated with a disorder you are are only promoting them to be fixed. If you research a little more being fixed is a common practice on babies who do not fit the normal perception of pink or blue.
Allow me to paint a quick picture. My child was born with ambiguous genitalia. The doctors were not sure of her gender. The wanted to fix her right away, (make her normal). With our little knowledge of intersex, the doctors had seemed to know what they were talking about. That was the worst choice as a person I have every made. My child did not have a voice and I and the doctors took it from her. With a simple genetics test, she was deemed a boy 46XY. end of story , we had a boy.
This was just the beginning. My child had a man made penis created out of skin graphs. It was not till after 2 years of surgeries that we learned she had Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome. She was resistant to androgen and later in life she would not process testosterone and develop much like a female would. Despite that, we did not encourage or stop her natural process of identifying who she was. She on her own naturally transitioned into our sweet little girl. Please don’t confuse this with transgender, as you may know and I Hope you do intersex is biological. If society relates the word disorder with intersex then how can we stop the mentality that they need to be fixed. Imagine how hard things will be for her. She was born without a penis, was surgically given one and now does not understand why she has one. Please don’t say she has a disorder. Please don’t tell others she has a disorder. Please understand that she is intersex. I am attaching a picture of my sweetheart. I want you to see what your article is portraying as disordered. I hope this finds you well and I hope you consider revising your verbiage.
Sincerely, Anonymous Parent of an Intersex Child.
Note: National Geographic has a new magazine coming out January 2017: “National Geographic Gender Revolution“. If revisions are not made, it appears that they will be calling us intersex people a “Disorder of Sexual Development” or DSD. Calling us a DSD leads to our being aborted as a fetus, or our genitals being “fixed” with non-consensual “corrective surgeries” as infants and children. Please say “natural bodily variations” instead.
The United Nations has asked that the non-consensual genital surgeries on children be ended! You can read the United Nations definition of Intersex and their message to stop cosmetic surgeries here: United Nations Fact Sheet for Intersex
Here is the United Nations definition of Intersex, which is the one everyone should be using. The verbiage of “Disorder of Sexual Development” needs to end.:
Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.
Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations. In some cases, intersex traits are visible at birth while in others, they are not apparent until puberty. Some chromosomal intersex variations may not be physically apparent at all.
It has become common practice to subject intersex children to unnecessary surgical and other procedures for the purpose of trying to make their appearance conform to binary sex stereotypes.
These often irreversible procedures can cause permanent infertility, pain, incontinence, loss of sexual sensation, and lifelong mental suffering, including depression. Regularly performed without the full, free and informed consent of the person concerned, who is frequently too young to be part of the decision-making, these procedures may violate their rights to physical integrity, to be free from torture and ill-treatment, and to live free from harmful practices.
Read more here: United Nations Fact Sheet for Intersex
This child referred to in this parent’s letter, is one of many in the USA! As long as we are called a disorder, they will forever try to fix us and they will continue to make errors. Surgery is rarely medically necessary.
We are simply a variety of human, with natural bodily variations. We are born perfect the way we are. The self-determination of our own gender is our human right. Using wrong verbiage needs to stop:
YOU CAN HELP:
PLEASE WRITE National Geographic: e-mail: email@example.com and insist that they use the right definition for us INTERSEX people, and STOP using “Disorder of Sexual Development” and instead use “natural bodily variations”. Please also share this link from the UNITED NATIONS that shows the correct definition of INTERSEX: bit.ly/1VZRCg5
FACEBOOK MESSAGES from other Intersex Advocates/Activists:
A Message From: PIdgeon Pagonis on Facebook December 16, 2017.
As 2016 nears its end, I was surprised today with the appearance of my image on the cover and inside of National Geographic Magazine’s special issue on Gender.
As someone who’s always been obsessed with photography, especially the photography in Nat Geo, it’s nothing short of a dream come true to be able to use Nat Geo as a platform to increase awareness about sex and gender existing on a spectrum–while highlighting the unique struggles of intersex people.
Unfortunately, from what I can see in one of these images, the editors got the definition of intersex wrong. They unfortunately used a stigmatizing medicalized definition of intersex that leads to more pain and suffering for intersex people.
Please let National Geographic know that intersex people do not have “*disorders* of sex development”, but instead are people with sex traits that don’t fall neatly into binary definitions of either male or female. Pls tell them to use the United Nations Free & Equal defintion found here: bit.ly/1VZRCg5
This type of damaging language only leads to more surgeries and shame, the same surgeries and shame we are fighting to rid the world of.
A Message From Hida Viloria on Facebook: December 16, 2017.
FOR ALL INTERSEX PEEPS, OUR FAMILIES & ALLIES:
Recently learned that National Geographic Magazine (@natgeo) plans to use hurtful, pathologizing language to describe intersex people in their upcoming January issue, “Gender Revolution”. I am so disappointed as I’d been contacted to be a part of the accompanying documentary (airing in January), and although my schedule did not permit, I was excited about it as it sounded fantastic.
It’s a travesty that an issue which respectfully defines and addresses gender variant people by their chosen labels (trans people are not defined as “people with gender dysphoria”) would use a label for intersex people which the community rejects because it promotes the stigmatizing view that intersex people require “fixing”, which in turn facilities the harmful, medically unnecessary, irreversible “normalizing” surgeries on intersex babies and minors which we are all fighting to end. I have begun contacting them to address this issue and BEG any of you who have an extra moment to please do so as well. Please be polite and courteous as they will hear our concerns more readily this way, and please feel free to use any of the language in this post. Hopefully, together we can fix THIS.
firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
Letters should be addressed to:
@susanbgoldberg Editor in Chief of National Geographic Magazine, Editorial Director of National Geographic Partners
Here is another Anonymous Message from the parent of an intersex child:
Disorder does not describe my child but National Geographic thinks so……
In January National geographic will debut the magazine issue, titled “Gender Revolution,” covering a wide range of topics, from examinations of traditional gender roles. Included in this issue is Intersex . Despite the past respect I had for National Geographic, I am not happy with the verbiage used to represent Intersex individuals. Disorder of sex Development. I wanted to understand what the term Disorder meant to people. I am finding that the meaning is not an accurate representation of my own child or any other intersex individual. When you tell people that intersex is A Disorder, you stigmatize and harm individuals that are already fighting for basic rights and choices. This will only promote the continued practice of fixing babies with surgery to normalize them. Disorder is a very impacting word, and I will never feel my child has a disorder. Shame on you National Geographic for creating another hurdle for individuals to navigate through.
A Letter from a True Intersex Ally:
Dec. 17th 2016:
This letter is regarding the Special Edition of January 2017. The article “Gender Revolution” started to be the highlight of my day only to find a grave error has been made.
I was absolutely dismayed when I read the definition of Intersex. National Geographic chose to use a horrible medical definition instead of the definition given by the United Nations. The correct definition can be found at http://bit.ly/1VZRCg5 . To quote part of it, “Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.
Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations. In some cases, intersex traits are visible at birth while in others, they are not apparent until puberty. Some chromosomal intersex variations may not be physically apparent at all.”
It is absolutely a disgrace to the very people who have rallied against the terminology of disorder, syndrome or even needing to be “normalized”. Intersex people are people and the have the right to be recognized as people NOT a disorder.
The definition lets people think it is okay to let doctors make decisions about intersex bodies with unnecessary surgeries that create a lifetime of misery.
This is why the United Nations stepped in. These atrocities have to stop! It is very important that National Geographic edit and share the correct definition.
Mx. Anunnaki Ray, Pidgeon Pagnosis (who was featured on one of your covers), Hida Vilera, Tiger Devore Ph.D of “No Body is Shameful”, Tony Briffa, Morgan Carpenter even Judi Herring MD of Tedtalk Gender Bound, just to name a few people that are working tirelessly to educate the public that Intersex is NOT a disorder or a syndrome. The United Nations themselves stated that Intersex is a NATURAL BODILY VARIATION this is what needed to be reflected in your definition. Again, too many doctors are using the disorder or syndrome to justify unnecessary surgeries and the genital mutilations that are done. It is wrong!
So as a well respected magazine that so many people read, you have sent out a bad message for the intersex population. The definition needs to be corrected, not quietly either. It needs to be BOLD and LOUD!
Thank you for your time and consideration,
A Letter from someone born intersex:
Susan B. Goldberg Editor in Chief National Geographic Magazine Dear Ms. Goldberg: I like National Geographic. The last few days I’ve been my attention call to your article “Gender Revolution”, in which the magazine uses the wrong definition of Intersex people: this is the correct one, “Intersex people are born with characteristics (including genitals, gonads, and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.” https://unfe.org/system/unfe-65-Intersex_Factsheet_ENGLISH.pdf. The term disorder of sexual development (DSD), is used by medical professionals to make parents feel like the doctors know what they’re doing. We (I’m Intersex/Hermaphrodite) are not born with any emergency need to do surgery (normalization surgery) on our genitals (we call it Intersex Genital Mutilation). The UN Rapporteur on Torture has called on all nation states to ban these surgeries. Which is what the term dsd seems to say. It’s a pathologic diagnosis for an illness that doesn’t exist. Surgery and other medical interventions cause us to be sterile, a form of Eugenics which is an unacknowledged form of GENDERCIDE. I’m sure this was an oversight. It’s likely too late to have the definition replaced or retracted, but public apology to our community and a follow up article about the fight for civil and human rights would be nice. We represent every aspect of citizen; Race, Religion, class, etc. Our Humanity shows up. For example a Federal Judge ruled that The South Carolina violated an Intersex child human right when they had M.C. (the Child) undergo normalization surgery (case dismissed on technical grounds). I’m suing the US State Dept. for a 3rd Gender marker in the 10th Circuit Court (ZZYYM v KERRY http://wwwlambdalegal.org/blog/20161122_zzyym)). We are Doctors and lawyers, artists, writers. And more and we deserve to be treated equally with our defined labels. Thank you Dana A Zzyym Assoc. Dir Intersex Campaign for Equality Organization Intersex International Board PFLAG Fort Collins Navy Veteran IGM Survivor
The Letter I wrote National Geographic December 17th, 2016.