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!
Joey is an amazing spirit, child, and has pure innocence. At nine years old she is very clear about her gender identity and embraces their feminine side, and yet still has a great passion for sports and aspirations to become a football player! May this world awaken gently to allow such amazing children to grow, bloom and become. It is her hope that she changes the rules of the NFL and that they will soon allow capable women! Look out world! Joey is coming!
Here is a message from Tiescha, Joey’s mother:
To watch a child grow into themselves is an remarkable journey to experience. Joey is an XY Intersex girl that embraces her feminine side along with naturally erasing the line in the sand of gender conformity.
She has a beautiful dream in life of seeing women join the NFL. From an early age she found a lovely balance of enjoying fashion, dolls, baking, loving anything Hot Pink and playing football. Any given day she walks in the house covered in dirt head to toe after hours of running slant routs, showers and puts on her Monster High PJ’s, plays with her doll house and works on her new fashion designs of Hot Pink dress with frills and sequins.
I believe one day our Joey will help others make the dream of women in football real. Her self-determination will take her there, not her chromosomes, or lack of testosterone production, her dream will get her there. She believes in possibilities and we believe in her. She hopes to show other kids they can be who they are and it’s okay to be Intersex. According to Joey it’s, okay to love football and play with Dolls, Pick flowers, and enjoy fishing, get a pedicure and play with bugs.
Here is a message from Joey’s mother, Tiescha, explaining why they allowed Joey to share her aspirations with the world:
“In the past few years, Joey started to ask questions about herself that were somewhat complicated to answer as a parent. We evolved with her and started using resources online to articulate what we could not find words for. She rapidly became more self-aware and in the past year found peace with who she is. Her questions did not stop, she began to conduct her own searches online and wanted to meet other Intersex children. This lead to her wanting to help others in learning (In her words) “It’s okay to be Intersex.” As a baby Joey was subjected to surgery, she never had a say and her voice was stolen. We vowed to never allow this to happen again. She is now using her voice and has our unconditional support, love, and guidance.”
Our kids are proof that it is about educating only about the male/female binary, and intersex erasure, that messes up the truth around natural bodily variations existing in us humans. You see, our children were taught that intersex bodies existed, as soon as I realized I was not a disorder and was actually born intersex instead. Yup, they were taught about the female penis and the male vagina. They were taught that sometimes a woman can be XY, a man can be XX, and those other chromosomal variations of human exist too, like XXY, XX/XY, XO and so many others. Here is the United Nations’ Intersex Fact Sheet, if you have never heard of intersex before.
You see, naturally, humans come with many variations of genitals, reproductive systems, chromosomes, and hormones. It simply is the way nature planned it all. We are a variety of human. It is that simple.
My kids had to actually learn that the male/female binary is what the rest of the world believes. After learning about intersex, it blew their minds that there were just two options: Male or Female bodies.
Now, imagine teaching your children that you have been erased by this world.
That there is no box for me, few doctors that will see me even because I am taboo. It truly sucked for them, my husband and for me. They felt violated themselves and angry and scared for me! We lost our home trying to chase down a doctor, across the country that would treat me. Yes, I was medically abandoned by doctors and told I was no longer patient compliant when I refused to do what they asked me to appear female.
It is hard to explain to a child that there is NO box for their type of father. That it is the world that messed up. That it was not my body and not my hormones that went wrong.
My children naturally never felt it was ME who had to surgically conform to this world. I believe that most children naturally know we want our genitals the way we are born!
That is why when people asked: “how are your kids taking it?”, when I emancipated my gender, we shared that they were HAPPIER! In the typical male/female binary world, it is devastating though. But most assumed otherwise and thought: “OMG! How horrible that those poor kids just lost their mother!” Typical people also immediately assumed I would be having genital conforming surgeries too when I do not. We can just imagine the gossip. We lost countless friends, who could not cope with it.
Everyone also assumed my husband, of twenty-eight years, would leave. I was so disabled and sick, that he too gained his sex partner back. I was asexual for over a decade, due to doctors giving me no choices. We had become roommates. So when people asked: “How is he taking it?”, it was an insult to me! Yes, things changed socially changed dramatically for our family, but it was not the end of the world. It was the beginning of a new healthier life as a couple!
To an intersex person, like me, and some of my intersex friends, like Tiger Devore, gender is all a “gender performance”. A phrase that Tiger likes to use, and created to explain what I am saying here today. So, my kids did not lose a thing. They gained a healthier parent who now had a different gender performance for the world! I became “Vader” to them, another word for father.
I did not die when I faced certain death if I had continued on appearing female. It is the male/female binary world that thinks things are so rigid and so concrete that the sky falls when one changes that performance. And this is sadly why we lost so many friends and family.
I know many intersex girls who have a penis, and this world should not threaten cutting it off either. Due to intersex erasure, eugenics (surgically taking away an intersex person’s fertility with non-consensual childhood surgery), and genocide (aborting us when detected before birth), most female penis’s or large clitoris get removed. I know many transgender girls too who have a female penis. They should not feel they have to lose theirs too, to be validated as real women. It sickens me that transgender children are taught to believe that they are in the wrong bodies, but that is another blog.
For us intersex people, Genital integrity is all we want.Our life as our ‘true selves’ is all we want. We simply just want the right to be LOVED the way we were born: INTERSEX! We simply want the human right to sexually experience OUR INTERSEX GENITALS, uncut and unharmed too.