Stonewall Anniversary Weekend in the ATL

June 14, 2009

Atlanta Pride had humble beginnings in 1971 as a protest march organized by the Atlanta Gay Liberation Front to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, and has since grown to be one of the largest Gay Pride festivals in the U.S. and definitely the largest in the South. Unfortunately, it has lost much of it’s radical queer roots in the process and has become more of a large party with tons of corporate sponsors and assimilationist politics (but that is another blog post.) Because of a number of issues Atlanta Pride has been moved to Halloween weekend this year, instead of the usual Stonewall anniversary weekend. This has left a great opportunity for local organizers to plan events that are political, community based, and that remind us of the reason we celebrate the last weekend in June.

There are a number of exciting events being planned to fill the gap. You can read about them on the on the Stonewall 40 Atlanta website here and Atlanta Pride website here.

I want to highlight a reading I am involved in that will take place Stonewall weekend for the fabulous two-volume anthology I have a piece in called ‘Visible: A Femmethology’. I am especially excited to commemorate Stonewall weekend with a reading from this book, as I think the fact that it challenges the queer community on assumptions and ideas around femininity and femme identity is especially appropriate. The event is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!

Stonewall Anniversary Weekend Femmethology Reading
Saturday June 27th, 2009 8:30pm  @ Aphrodite’s Toy Box (3040 N. Decatur Rd. Scottdale, GA 30079)

‘Visible: A Femmethology‘, the only two-volume anthology devoted to femme identity, calls the LGBTQI community on its prejudices and celebrates the  diversity of individual femmes. Award-winning authors, spoken-word artists,  and new voices come together to challenge conventional ideas of how  disability, class, nationality, race, aesthetics, sexual orientation, gender identity and body type intersect with each contributor’s concrete notion of femmedom. Join us as we celebrate the release of this anthology, with readings by 5 local contributors: Brook Bolen, Caitlin Childs, JD Dykes, Asha Leong, and Margaret Price.

You can view the Facebook invitation here, read about the book on the Femmethology website here, read about the fabulous publisher here, and get info on the venue hosting the reading, Aphrodite’s Toy Box here.

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Intersex and Trans Demands (Circa 2004)

May 4, 2009

This certainly is a blast from the past! I found this list online today when I was searching around for intersex websites. I periodically do this since new sites pop up all the time and I like to keep track of what is happening in the online intersex world.

I helped write this list, along with some trans community members, back in 2004. I was part of a group of young, white, anti-authoritarian, community organizers in Atlanta who decided that rather than continue to organize in ways that were potentially problematic, we should take the time to caucus around race, look back critically on past organizing, and think about ways that white organizers can work with communities of color in ways that are actually useful to communities of color. We eventually did some interesting community organizing projects that were very intentional in regards to building relationships, taking leadership from communities of color, and sustainability. These caucuses were far from problem free and eventually did dissolve. However, I learned a lot from my involvement and that work has definitely informed my activism since.

This list of demands came out of some of that work. It was initially written just for the folks involved in the caucusing. Most of us involved in the caucusing decided to attend the SEANET (South East Anarchist Network) Conference in the Spring of 2004. Upon finding out that the conference organizers had decided to use a gender caucus format for the bulk of the conference, we sent this list to the organizers and to be distributed at the conference. Apparently it made it’s way around the internet world. I think it is a useful starting point. There are probably things I would change and add to it now, but I think it is definitely worth sharing. Let me know your thoughts too!

Also, I am working on a blog on the differences and commonalities between intersex and transgender. I think that intersex and  trans folks are natural allies in many ways and I have some thoughts on the ways we can work together and support each other’s activism and struggles. We intentionally separated out the trans and intersex demands on this list, even if some do overlap, because we acknowledge big differences do exist and think it takes away from both trans and intersex folks’ unique experiences to lump everything together.

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April, 2004

Here are two separate lists that a few of us developed in Atlanta. We initially wrote the list because we had found other lists in regards to sexism to be good, but incomplete and lacking in our own experiences.

The trans demands are lacking in MtF voices. This list comes out of our community. The list is far from complete, but is good to start discussions around these issues. We wanted to make sure we sent them out before the SEAnet (South Eastern Anarchist network) Gathering in April [2004]. We encourage everyone (particularly SEAnet organizers) to take the time to read them.

INTERSEX LIST OF DEMANDS

  • Don’t assume you know someone’s sex based on how you perceive them or their gender.
  • Don’t assume all women have a vagina, uterus, etc.
  • Don’t assume all men have a penis, testes, etc.
  • Don’t fetishize our bodies.
  • Don’t use the word hermaphrodite to describe us unless we identify that way and give permission.
  • Don’t feel sorry for us.
  • Respect our sex identification.
  • Don’t exploit our existence to discredit biological determinism or other academic ideologies.
  • Know the difference between sex and gender.
  • Know the difference between intersexed and transgendered.
  • Don’t ask us or try to picture what our genitals look like.
  • Don’t ask us if we have sexual sensations.
  • Don’t assume you have the right to know intimate details of our bodies. We have the right to privacy and safety like all other people.
  • Realize we have historically been mutilated, fetishized, and made into freak shows. Understand how this affects us and our safety.
  • Don’t say “cool” or “weird” or treat us differently when we tell you we are intersexed.
  • Educate yourself!!! Read books on intersex.
  • Girl, woman, female; boy, man, male are not always interchangeable.
  • Don’t assume all intersex people are queer.
  • Realize that not all people with intersex condition are out.
  • Realize that not all people with intersex conditions even know that they are intersexed.
  • Remember that we are 1 in 100, and that is not rare at all!!!
  • Don’t call our conditions “disorders,” “retardations,” “abnormalities,” etc.
  • Realize that bodies come in all different shapes, sizes and with different parts.
  • Realize how fucking strong we are to speak up about the medical abuse and victimization we have been through and that we deserve mad props.
  • Don’t write us off as rare and unimportant. Don’t put off educating yourself for other “more important” issues.
  • In situations such as gender caucuses, keep in mind that not all the people who identify as women have similar genitalia, etc. Understand that we have been taught that our bodies are “wrong” and “ugly” and that it reinforces this when people say they love being women because of their vagina, uterus, etc., this reinforces those feelings. Woman does not necessarily = female. Man does not necessarily = male.

TRANS/GENDER LIST OF DEMANDS

  • Don’t assume someone’s gender identity.
  • Don’t constantly reference someone’s gender identity in an attempt to seem OK with it. Likewise, don’t think we care if you’re OK with us or not. No one asked for your approval.
  • Don’t trip up on pronouns- if you fuck up, simply correct yourself and go on.
  • Don’t glamorize someone’s gender identity or think it’s “cool” or say that you’re “into it.”
  • Read trans/gender theory. Know the difference between: transgender, transsexual, gender fucking, gender blending/bending, gender vs. sex, binary gender, passing, transitioning, binding, tucking, packing/stuffing, third genders, drag queens/kings, androgyny, butch, femme, crossdressing, boi, MtF, FtM, tranny boys, tranny dykes, boydykes, transfags, etc., etc., etc.!!!
  • Know the difference between intersex and transgender.
  • Think about how you would really feel if someone you loved transitioned. Think about your fears and why you have them.
  • Recognize your own transphobia.
  • Know about transitioning and surgery and hormones.
  • Don’t just name yourself a “trans ally” one day.
  • Realize that some of us have struggled with our gender identity for a long time. Don’t think that we just woke up one day and decided that we would identify as transgendered. So when we finally find a space that we’re comfortable in (even if temporarily), don’t co-opt that space or try to make it yours too.
  • Even if you think fucking with gender is hot, don’t talk about it in an objectifying way.
  • Realize that it can be hard existing in in-between spaces and really know that trans oppression and transphobia exist. Know the fear of not being able to determine when you pass, the fear of being arrested/strip searched/thrown in the wrong holding cell, the threat of violence, the annoyance of having to “come out” about your gender identity constantly, etc.
  • Understand the privilege of feeling at home in your body, using a public bathroom, knowing which M/F box to check, having people assume your gender identity and them being right, etc.
  • Realize that there is a gender community and that the validation we receive from that community can be incomparable to what you could ever offer us and let us seek refuge there.
  • Recognize how class and race fit into these equations.
  • Recognize and respect someone’s gender identity regardless of whether or not they choose to have surgery or take hormones. Similarly, don’t judge someone for transitioning or not wanting to identify as “transgendered.”
  • Don’t think of a transgender identity as “political.”
  • Don’t partner with us out of some weird transitioning or coming out process for you. Don’t ask us how we fuck.
  • Question your own gender! (But don’t then tell me, “You know, I’ve never felt like a ‘real man’/’real woman’ either.” -What this means is don’t assume our experiences are the same.
  • Don’t ask questions about someone trying to determine their “real gender.”
  • Don’t think that FtM are dealing with some kind of internalized sexism.
  • Don’t assume our gender identity, render it invisible, or think it doesn’t matter because of who we choose to partner with.
  • Don’t label our gender or sexual identity for us. Recognize the difference between the two!
  • Don’t think of our experiences and identities as monolithic.
  • Don’t think we are a “recent emergence” that somehow came out of gender/queer theory and academia.
  • Realize that there are a variety of trans/gender expressions. Don’t assume that people should express their gender similarly just because they both identify as transgendered. Likewise, don’t judge someone because you think that their trans identity and gender expression conflict.
  • Think about the language you use to differentiate between trans and non-trans people and if it’s even necessary to differentiate.
  • Don’t assume trans people have a “shared experience” with people assigned the same gender.
  • Don’t assume FtMs are “better” than other men, or MtFs are not “as good” as other women (especially in terms of sexism).
  • When doing introductions at a meeting, say the pronoun you prefer for that space along with your name, etc. (Facilitators should make sure this is done.)
  • Be sensitive to pronouns you use for someone when dealing with authority, police. Keep in mind that people’s pronouns/gender identity may not always match up with their I.D.
  • Don’t include us in your process of learning about intersex or trans issues unless we ask you about it.

To all people searching for pics of intersex genitals

April 30, 2009

I want to start by saying, I am glad you are here. I am glad you stumbled upon a page of an actual intersex person. I hope that you take advantage of this opportunity to educate yourself.

Intersex people are not something you can can gawk at to fill your curiosity, get a good laugh or get your rocks off. We are real people with feelings, lives, friends, families, jobs and hobbies just like you. Our bodies have been marginalized, mutilated, photographed without our consent, poked and prodded by multiple doctors, nurses and medical students. We have been labeled disordered, freaks, accidents, mutations, defective. We have been told our bodies are wrong, that no one could ever love a body like ours and that it needs to be “fixed.”

These days it seems that many of the hits I am getting on google are coming from folks searching for things like (these are a few actual search terms bringing folks to this page):

pictures of an intersex person
picter of intersex people
intersex conditions and pictures
hermaphrodite genital pictures
intersexed genetil pictures

I understand that people are curious and after doing this work for years, have received multiple requests on anonymous feedback forms post-presentation saying they would like to see pics of mine or other intersex folks genitals. That is particularly frustrating feedback to get after I’ve spent 1-2 hours explaining the medical exploitation of intersex people and the trauma many of us go through with public displays of our genitals, but that is another blog post.

All that said, it is none of your business what my genitals look like or what any other intersex person’s genitals look like unless we want or choose to show you or tell you. I would never walk up to a person I didn’t know and ask to see pictures of their genitals. The fact that people think they have a right to access the bodies of intersex people is part of many years of historic exploitation and medical abuse of intersex people and our bodies.

And the pictures you can find online and in medical text books of intersex people’s genitals are exploitive. Babies can not consent to having their photograph taken and published. Even older kids and adults are forced to pose for those awful pictures with blacked out eyes. Can you imagine what it would feel like to have your picture taken and your identity slightly masked so that you can appear in medical texts around the world as an example of a “wrong” and “defective” body??

If you want to learn about intersex people, click on this link and you can read basic information on intersex, as well as access a resource list with tons of web links and books. Learn about the surgeries performed on infants without consent. Learn about the lives of adult intersex people haunted by a lifetime of unnecessary surgeries that robbed them of their sexual sensations and pleasure. Learn about intersex people with severe post traumatic stress from multiple surgeries, genital exams, and public genital displays. Learn about the deep pain and shame associated with being told something is freakishly wrong with your body.  Do the work to educate yourself and stop perpetuating the exploitation and harm of intersex people.


Femmethology Spotlight on Yours Truly!

April 29, 2009

Every week Homofactus Press features a interview with a contributor from Visible: A Femmethology. Below is a excerpt from my interview. Click the link at the bottom for the whole thing and check out the archives for past interviews. I am honored to be published alongside so many smart and thoughtful queers!

How do you define your femme identity?
I am a queer intersex woman who purposefully and thoughtfully creates and plays with a feminine gender that was consciously created by and for me. My femme gender is smart, sassy, tough, glamorous and fun. My shoe collection consists of tons of heels (4″+ please!), skate shoes and lots and lots of boots. My style varies between classic pin-up burlesque bombshell, punk rock riot grrrl and the always trusty jeans and t-shirts. My armpits are always hairy but I shave my legs most of the time. Bikini Kill’s self-titled EP changed my life, yet Britney Spears is one of my favorites. When I grow up I want to be a combination of Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls and Ruth from Fried Green Tomatoes. My femme identity did not come easily or quickly, and I had to work through a lot of my own internalized femme phobia and misogyny to get here. My identity as a femme changes and gets deeper and more complicated daily. I love contradictions. I love the surprises people hold and the way that opposites can co-exist in one person.

How do other identities you have not only intersect with femme but also contradict it?
As an intersex person, I have often felt different from other femmes. So much about femme identity and femininity is linked to being penetrated vaginally (I was born without a vagina) and often to having children (I was born without a uterus too.) Being a femme woman in a body that was initially assigned female but finding out when I was a teenager that my body didn’t quite fit that narrow category definitely informed my views on my own gender identity. Many assumptions are made about me and my body because of how I present my gender, because of my time as a sex worker, etc.

Read the whole thing on the Homofactus Press website by clicking here


Why are queers shopping at Amazon.com anyway?

April 15, 2009

My butch dearest and I just returned from a relaxing (and much needed) weekend away in the North Georgia Mountains. Upon checking my email, I was bombarded with multiple messages about Amazon.com removing LGBT books from being ranked on their website.

Now, I get the general reasons people are upset: labeling anything with queer content as “adult” while letting hetero books that clearly contain “adult” content stay is not cute. I was lucky to come from a book worshiping home where I was allowed to read anything and everything I could get my hands on. As a high school drop out with little formal education, I credit this access to books and information with giving me a great, although non-traditional, education. Queer folks (especially youth) need these books – a way to figure out the answers to the questions we sometimes can’t say out loud. To find out what the options are. To know we aren’t alone. Many isolated folks are not aware of alternative sources for books and information and Amazon.com is a likely a place someone struggling with or figuring out their queerness would go.

I also understand that it conjures up all kinds of images of crazed PTAs storming the school library and confiscating copies of Judy Blume books.

All that said, I’m still a little baffled by all the hoopla.

I am fortunate to live in one of the cities that is home to an independent, queer owned and run, feminist bookstore, Charis Books and More.

Charis opened in 1974 and has managed to survive in spite of Borders and Barnes Noble/Amazon.com. As of today there are only 10 feminist bookstores in the U.S. and Canada (compared to 120 in 1994.) I first found Charis as a kid when my mom would take me to its original storefront location on Moreland Ave. in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. When I was 15, a hot angsty mess, and starting to figure out my queer identity, I rediscovered Charis, on my own this time. They had moved to a house caddy-corner to their original location. Inside I found hundreds of books to help me sort my shit out, as well as a community. I began volunteering at the bookstore and continued to do so off and on. I learned about Charis Circle, the non profit sister organization to the bookstore which puts on free author readings, books groups, writing groups, and social justice programming in the store. When I was 20 I volunteered as a mentor in the fabulous but now defunct ‘Sistergirls’ program and a year or so later joined the board of directors and served for 2 years. I also completed a 7 month fellowship with the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities by spending 20 hours a week as part of the Charis Circle staff organizing disability specific programming and outreach via Charis Circle. This fellowship allowed me to create an ongoing disability series at Charis, which continues today, more than a year after my fellowship came to an end.

Charis (both the Circle and Store) have changed my life multiple times in the 10 years I’ve been going sans mom. They have offered me a never ending world of books, the opportunity to meet my favorite authors and even share a meal with one of them (Michelle Tea!!), a space to further my social justice and community organizing work, and above all else, a community. I’ve grown up at Charis. Gone from an awkward and angry punk rock baby dyke to a confident (and still angry) femme 20-something.

My question to folks outraged by Amazon’s shennanigans: Why aren’t we buying our books from the Charis or any of the feminist bookstores or LGBT bookstores (do a google search if you want to see if there is one in your area) or even your local indie bookstore which you can find listed here? Why is anyone surprised that a mega corporation, who is currently controlling the books that most people in the U.S. buy and have access to, is censoring queer, feminist and sex positive voices? Why are we allowing Amazon.com to be our source for progressive and radical information in the first place?

Bookstores like Charis exist to support OUR voices, to fight damage done to our communities by corporations like Amazon.com and Co. Even if you are somewhere with no indie bookstore, you can order online from most indies these days and most are more than happy to special order any book your heart can dream of (or recommend a damn good one if you don’t know what you’re looking for.)

Charis offers 10% off all online orders, so what are you waiting for? Click here and start shopping today! Let’s stop trying to force corporations to accommodate our community’s needs or think that buying corporate support will liberate us. Let’s instead support those who truly support us, in part because they are part of our community. Borders and Barnes and Noble/Amazon.com may be on every corner and always offer free shipping, but they can’t come remotely close to provide the never ending list of things a good independent bookstore does. If these aren’t enough reasons to shop independent, here are some more from the Indie Bound website:

Why shop Indie?

When you shop at an independently owned business, your entire community benefits:

The Economy

  • Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
  • Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  • More of your taxes are reinvested in your community–where they belong.

The Environment

  • Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

The Community

  • Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
  • Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
  • More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

Upcoming Events

March 31, 2009

I know I haven’t posted anything in a while. My life has been extra special chaotic and writing has gotten temporarily moved to the back burner.

I do have a couple of upcoming events that I wanted to share with folks:

Tuesday April 7th 7:00pm I will be doing a Intersex 101 at Agnes Scott College in the Teasley Auditorium which is located in the Science Building off of W. Dougherty St. This presentation will include basic intersex definitions, some or all of the film ‘One in 2000’ by Ajae Clearway, my personal story, plus time for q&a and discussion. This is a really good way to get the basics of what intersex is, learn about intersex activism, and how you can be an ally.

Thursday May 14th from 7:30-9:00pm I will be taking part in the official Atlanta Visible: A Femmethology launch party at Charis Books and More. This event is presented by Charis Circle and sponsored by the Atlanta Femme Mafia. It will feature readings from the Atlanta contributors featured in the two books including myself, Brook Bolen, Asha Leong, Margaret Price, and JD Dykes. It will be an evening full of fabulous writing on femme identity, thought provoking conversation, snacks, and fabulous fashion (I know I have been picking my outfit out in my head for months.)

There will also be another reading at Aphrodite’s Toybox sometime in the near future. Details TBA.

Please feel free to spread the word about these events and bring your friends, family, co-workers, next door neighbor, etc!


One in 2000 intro speech

January 11, 2009

About 6 years ago, filmmaker Ajae Clearway came to Atlanta to interview me for a intersex documentary that evolved into One in 2000. Ajae and I were first introduced at the annual Our True Colors LGBT youth conference in Connecticut that my ex and I were sent to by Bodies Like Ours to present workshops for intersex youth and their partners, a workshop for teachers on supporting and working with intersex youth and a workshop for those in the mental health field about ways they can support intersex clients.

Finally in 2007, after years of Ajae interviewing intersex individuals (and funding the film out of her own pocket,) One in 2000 was finally released. In April 2008, Ajae came to Atlanta and we did 4 screenings of the film in 3 days (At Emory, Charis, Spelman and Agnes Scott.) We estimate that between 300 and 400 people saw the film over that 3 day period, which is pretty damn exciting.

If you missed the film and live in Atlanta, you will probably have another opportunity to see it screened with little ol’ me, as I am likely to do a few more screenings locally in the future. If you work for an institution or are in school and want to have your library order it, it can be purchased here at institutional rates. And be sure to check out Ajae’s production company, Polyvinyl Pictures here and support independent, queer, feminist, filmmakers! Also, I have heard that they have been showing the film on Logo these days, so if you have  the fancy cable be sure to check it out.

Below is the speech I read as an introduction to the film for your reading pleasure.

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I am glad to be here today with Ajae Clearway and am proud of my involvement in ‘One in 2000’. It is extremely important to listen to the voices of those of us who are intersex. Most of the information about intersex people comes from medical professionals and academics who are NOT personally affected. It is important to remember that the true experts on intersex lives are intersex people ourselves. I appreciate that ‘One in 2000’ focuses on the voices and experiences of these true experts.

I am an intersex person who was diagnosed as a teenager. The intersex condition I have, Mayer Rokitansy Kuster Hauser Syndrome (MRKH), is rarely diagnosed until we are teenagers, because it is rarely evident until puberty occurs and menstruation does not begin. I was, like many people with MRKH, initially misdiagnosed as having an imperforate hymen, which is when the hymen is thicker than is typically found. This can have medical complications, because it can prevent menstrual blood from exiting the body. My MRKH was discovered after an attempt was made to cut my non-existent hymen and they discovered that I was in fact born without a vagina, cervix and uterus (or my uterus is smaller than common). The trauma of going through multiple genital exams, followed by an unnecessary surgery, followed by even more genital exams and discussions of how to create a vagina was quite difficult for me, especially at the always awkward age of 15. Doctors were much more concerned with my lack of a vagina and creating one, than they were with my emotional well being after receiving an intersex diagnosis. I was not informed of the potentially health threatening symptoms associated with MRKH and only learned of them through of my own research. Additionally, as all of my “options” for dealing with my MRKH were discussed, the option of continuing my life without a vagina, was never offered to me.

Fully informed consent is something that is absolutely necessary before any surgeries are performed. I feel that no non-essential medical interventions should occur until the intersex individual is old enough to make a fully informed decision. In order to make a fully informed decision, all options need to be presented, along with the pros and cons. This list absolutely must include the option to have no surgery. Doctors should stress that choosing not to have surgery is as much of an option as undergoing surgical procedures.

Additionally, I have great concerns about the current push for the identification of intersex conditions in utero, and the treatment of these conditions. Eugenics has a very real and dangerous history in this country and is still a very real threat, especially to people with disabilities and people with intersex conditions. I fear that as the causes of more and more intersex conditions are discovered, researchers will start to look for “cures”. I am concerned that this could result in preventing the birth of intersex individuals altogether. Surgery also plays a similar role (as addressed in the film). Intersex people represent one of the many variations in human bodies and surgery is being used to essentially wipe out an entire group of humans and force us to assimilate. In my case, doctors and researchers do not yet know the “cause” of MRKH. I have serious concerns about what will happen once a “cause” is discovered.

Educating the public is a large issue for intersex activists. Most people are not aware that intersex people exist, although I am sure we can all agree that 1 in 2000 births is not very rare at all. It is estimated that 5 children a day have unnecessary cosmetic surgery performed on their genitals due to a intersex condition. The medicalization of intersex bodies is a huge problem. These surgeries are seldom medically necessary and are strongly influenced by our deeply embedded ideas about gender, sex, sexuality and the idea of “right” and “wrong” bodies. It is time to put a stop to these unnecessary, traumatic and often complication-ridden surgeries without fully informed consent. It is time to start listening to the voices of intersex people and letting us make these decisions based on facts and not on the fears of a society that is terrified of difference.

I am one of the lucky ones. Because of my late diagnosis and my inability to emotionally handle this diagnosis, I did not go through with any cosmetic surgeries to create a vagina. Instead, from age 15-18, I hid this dark secret. I was ashamed and felt like a freak. I thought that no one would want to be sexually involved with me if they knew my secret. For much of those years, even when sexually involved with someone, I did not tell them that I was born without a vagina. This made sex stressful and unenjoyable most of the time. I spent all of my early sexual experiences trying to avoid penetrative sex, without revealing that I had MRKH. When I was 18, I stumbled upon a workshop at a queer conference in San Francisco, which featured 3 intersex people sharing their stories. I did not know the word intersex, nor did I have any idea that this word applied to me. Although none of the people who spoke had MRKH, the similarities of their experiences to mine was uncanny. When I returned home, I starting researching intersex and learned about the intersex activist movement. When I learned that a whole movement existed to end the shame, secrecy and non-consensual surgeries on intersex people, I finally felt a huge burden lifted from my shoulders. I learned that there is nothing wrong or shameful about my body, what is truly wrong and shameful is the way I and other intersex people are typically treated. I came out to the world as intersex. I finally felt empowered to be angry at the way I was treated and about the assumptions people make about my body based on my gender presentation. Having been involved in social justice movements for several years at the time, becoming a vocal intersex activist seemed like the logical next step. I only wish that one of the many doctors I saw as a teenager had told me the word ‘intersex’ and shared information with me about groups like the Intersex Society of North America years earlier.

Today, nearly 10 years after my diagnosis, I am living my life as an out and proud intersex person. I have elected to not have a vagina created and to instead keep my body as I was born. I have learned to love and be proud of my body, something I did not ever think was possible as a teenager. I have had wonderful, supportive partners, who love me and my body and wouldn’t change me for the world. I have given dozens of intersex presentations at colleges, universities, conferences and to community organizations both in Atlanta and around the United States. I have served on the board of directors of Bodies Like Ours, an intersex peer support and advocacy group and have pushed to get other social justice groups to include intersex issues in their work. The intersex movement has made much progress during it’s short existence. I look forward to the day when no intersex person ever feels ashamed of who they are and or the body they were born with. I look forward to the day when intersex bodies are no longer medicalized and there are no more stories to tell about painful, unwanted and unnecessary genital surgeries. I hope that ‘One in 2000,’ can play a role in making that a reality.