I was born with intersex variations, here is my autobiography. My body does not comply with the rules that would put me into either the biological male box or the biological female box. So at my birth, and during my life, and up until the emancipation of my true sex and gender, I was forced, mostly by social expectations, to conform to the female box when that was not my true gender.
Added edit Jan. 24th 2020: It is important that for the sake of this blog that sex is not conflated with gender identity. They are not one and the same thing, even though society conflates the two as the same. The way that I see it, Anatomical Sex can be male/female/intersex and altersex. Gender identity is about how we feel as man/boys, women/girls, both or neither in some way.
As you know, at our birth they can mark either the Male box, Female box. For many of us born intersex, our true anatomical/biological sex cannot be marked on most forms. Some believe we need a third box, gender-neutral, or gender X box, for those of us born intersex, gender variant, non-conforming gender, non-binary gender, or transgender.
When I started to think about this option of a third gender box, I realize that it is not as simple as adding a third box or gender X option on our birth certificates. In reality, there are some really good reasons to do this for consenting adults, and some possible really bad consequences to doing this with infants and children if done without the consent of the child. Below I write about the Pros and Cons, the way I see it, and a rather radical solution is given at the end of this blog.
Before I go into the option of a third gender box though, and how I feel about this, I need to first educate you about what intersex means, since few understand about us. The below was taken from the United Nations’s Fact Sheet on Intersex:
What does ‘intersex’ mean?
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.
According to experts, between 0.05% and 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits – the upper estimate is similar to the number of red-haired people.
Being intersex relates to biological sex characteristics, and is distinct from a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. An intersex person may be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or asexual, and may identify as female, male, both or neither.
Because their bodies are seen as different, intersex children and adults are often stigmatized and subjected to multiple human rights violations, including violations of their rights to health and physical integrity, to be free from torture and ill-treatment, and to equality and non- discrimination.
To read more from the United Nations please go HERE
Now that you understand what it means to be born intersex I will share my thoughts.
Seven Possible Negative Consequences if our Government enforced third gender, gender X, gender-neutral birth certificates and ok away our choice:
- Some intersex people are happy with their birth assignment being either male or female, and would not want it any other way. If they had been assigned into a third box at birth, they would then be obvious intersex sexual minorities.
- If intersex infants were marked the third gender box at birth or the gender X box, they would not be able to live stealth later in life (not known to the public). Anywhere where we have to prove our gender or show our birth certificate, everyone would instantly know we are an intersex sexual minority.
- If assigned at birth without choice, the third box or gender X, once again the self-determination of gender taken away. It is no different than experts deciding for us, male or female.
- If an intersex infant was put into the third box at birth without the choice of the family, it could be more of a stigma for the parents of the intersex child, that could lead to the very surgeries many of us intersex advocates and activists are trying to stop. Surgeries that could be justified in order to get their child out of this third box. Once again, taking away the self-determination of gender for the child. Note: I have spoken to other intersex advocates and activist, in countries that provide a third box or gender X box. They have all voiced concern about cosmetic genital surgeries showing an increase. Note: Surgeries that can take away sensation, fertility, and sexual pleasure later in life. Not to mention, that the wrong gender may be assigned.
- Right now, if they detect some forms of intersex in-utero, through testing, a genetic specialist can suggest aborting that intersex fetus. Even though the United Nations states that we born with human bodily variations, most doctors still call us a “disorder”, “syndrome” and “condition”. If parents had to worry about their child being an obvious minority with a third gender box or Gender X box, this might increase the eugenics and genocide of intersex humans through abortion.
- It also seems that a third gender box continues this patriarchal and misogynist views of the world. Where even typical females are seen as the “weaker sex”. A third box, or “gender X” person would definitely be faced with similar prejudice of being the weaker sex.
My thoughts about how this could effect Transgender People if forced upon us:
- If transgender people were forced to mark the third gender box or gender X box, this would take away their right to self-determination of gender. Some transgender are simply either male or female. Just because they were assigned wrong at birth should not take away their validity as a person who might identify binary male or female.
- However, some transgender people identify as gender non-conforming, non-binary, gender queer, both male or female, or neither. So as adults, having this option of third gender, gender-neutral, or gender X, could be very validating and confirming of their existence and greatly welcomed.
Two Possible Solutions that could work for everyone:
- I feel it is a Human and Civil Rights solution to Give all people, of adult consenting age, the choice to pick a third box, or gender X option. After all, at eighteen a person can legally change their gender to the opposite of their birth assignment if they are transgender. This also is allowed to happen when us intersex people are assigned the wrong gender at birth. It only stands to reason a person should be granted a third gender option or gender X if they feel they are both male or female, or neither.
- Here is a radical solution: Get rid of all gender assignment at birth and offer the self-determination of gender for every human being on the planet. Along with a few out here, I believe that at our birth no one should be assigned gender. Yes, this is a radical solution to some. However, when one believes that the self-determination of gender is a human right, it stands to reason that this should become an obvious solution.
In closing, I realize that the second solution is rather a radical one. However, I believe that the self-determination of gender is a human right. No matter what genitals we are born with I believe this to be true. I believe that our genital integrity is a human right too, and those cosmetic surgeries should stop in infants and children. I also believe that transgender children should never be told that they are in the wrong body nor made to believe that they need genital surgery to conform.
I will never feel that our reproductive system, genitals, hormones, and chromosomes determine our gender, and simply never will.
So, I end this blog with a question to you: Is time to Get rid of all the gender boxes?
Now to share about my friend Judi Herring, M.D., who believes it is time to “(un)know gender”:
I’m a Gender/Intersex Activist, who sometimes gives talks with Judi Herring, MD. Our friendship grew through a series of interactions, among which, Dr. Herring’s 2014 TEDx Jacksonville talk, Gender Bound: Lessons from the world between, was key. I have included the link to that, fourteen minute, TEDx below for your viewing.
In the talk, Dr. Herring delivered a message, which resonates with me, “It is time to (un)know gender.”:
“There is no question. The time is now.”
Judi Herring, M.D.
“It is time to stop cutting the genitals of infants and children just so that we can bind them into M-F boxes.
It is time to stop cutting the freedom of people, by applying labels, nonsense words – homosexual, bisexual, intersex, intersexual, transsexual, transgender – groin-focused words that bind us into in-groups and out-groups, entrenched in a state of perpetual dispute; destructive words that keep us bound, all of humanity bound in the realm of UVT – Us versus Them.
It is time that we unbind ourselves from thousands of years of certainties that place our reproductive parts, our reproductive potential at the center of who we are and how we relate.
It is time to raise our gaze from between the legs, so we can see. So we can see that it is our mind that is at the center of who we are and how we relate.
In my journey from one cell to sentience, through some magic of biology, through the wonders and the miracles of nature, my mind was embodied. I stand before you the embodiment of a mind. You are the embodiment of a mind. We are embodied minds, not bodies that happen to have minds attached to them so we can function and move and reproduce.
It is time to transcend our physical boundaries, to come together across these physical differences that divide us.
It’s time to unknow gender.”
If you would like to read more about this topic see the below links.
California the first to offer Gender Neutral as an option for Birth certificates: California 1st to Allow Gender-Neutral Birth Certificate
A Groundbreaking, Legal Case, in fighting for Third Gender in the USA:
- Here is an article about Dana Zzynn, a person born intersex, who identifies as third gender. Quote: “A federal judge in Denver ordered the U.S. Department of State to reconsider its denial of a passport to a Navy veteran from Colorado who identifies as neither male or female, court documents showed on Tuesday.” Judge Orders US to Reconsider Denying Passport to Intersex Veteran; NOV 23 2016. And Lambda legal In Court Case: Zzyym v. Kerry
New York City Issues Nation’s First Intersex Birth Certificate:
- ‘The protocol of the day was to lie’: NYC issues first US ‘intersex’ birth certificate
- Nation’s First Known Intersex Birth Certificate Issued in NYC
The nations second to have an Intersex Birth Certificate: Hida Viloria: “I have an intersex birth certificate!”.
My update: September 2018: I am Proudly the First in Colorado to get an Intersex Birth Certificate
Articles are written by Cary G. Costello, Ph.D.; Tiger Devore, Ph.D., and Morgan Carpenter:
My related Blogs:
- STOP! Surgery Does Not Create an Intersex Child’s Gender
- Five ways I show that the Male/Female Binary is a Myth, and a Social Construct. Nature has always Created Sexual Variety and Diversity.
- Two diagnoses that bring in the cash $$ for surgeons, psychiatrist, and therapist: Disorders of Sex Development, and Gender Dysphoria
- INTERSEX Erasure Hurts! Examples of Misguidance from Doctors.
- Why I don’t like saying “non-binary gender” anymore.
- A Male/Female Mosaic Brain Proves We Need the Self-Determination of Gender
- I was born with an Intersex body, but this does not create my Gender or my Sexual Orientation.
- Seven Names for the SAME thing: Penis, Phallus, Clitoris, Phalloclitoris, Micropenis, Microphalus, and Clitoromegaly.
Thank you for visiting my blog.