I am excited to be presenting at the 2013 Creating Change Conference in Atlanta January 23-27. I will be presenting in two sessions at the conference:
Intersex: An Introductory Workshop
Friday, January 25, 2013 from 3:00-4:30pm
An estimated 1 in 2,000 children are born with genitals, chromosomes and/or reproductive organs that obviously fall outside of the (narrow) medical definition of male or female. Unfortunately children born with intersex conditions are often surgically mutilated at birth. Even when children are able to escape surgery, it is difficult to escape the stigma, shame and secrecy that come along with a body that doctors and society tell you is “different.” This workshop will include a basic introduction to intersex issues and activism, including Caitlin’s personal story and a screening of a short documentary on the topic.
Exploring Disability’s Intersectional Space in LGBTI Rights
Saturday, January 26, 2013 from 9:00-10:30am
Outreach, organizing, and advocacy efforts to secure rights for LGBTI people are often made at the expense of people with disabilities, either by ignoring them or perpetuating ableism. Not only does this impact the struggle of the disability-rights movement, but also obscures ripe possibilities for intersectional and collaborative efforts. This session seeks to deconstruct ableism in the LGBTI-rights movement and explore the commonalities between the two movements in hopes of starting a cross-movement dialogue.
For more information, registration and the complete schedule, please visit http://www.creatingchange.org/
I am thrilled to be presenting at the Five College Intersex Symposium, Friday October 5, 2012 from 10:00am-4:45pm at Mount Holyoke College, Chapin Auditorium. I will be debuting a brand new talk on the intersections of disability and intersex. Please spread the word and visit Intersex Symposium on Facebook for more information.
10-10:30am Welcome (Coffee / Tea)
10:30-11:30am Speaker 1: Lynnell Stephani Long
Intersex 201: Alliance with your LGBT organization on or off campus
11:45am-12:45pm Speaker 2: Caitlin Childs
Intersections: How disability can inform intersex in the classroom and beyond1-1:45pm Lunch
2-3pm Speaker 3: David Rubin
“An Unnamed Blank that Craved a Name”: A Genealogy of Intersex as Gender
3:15-4:45pmTeaching Intersex Panel
Speaker 1, Lynnell Stephani Long (Intersex Activist & Educator)
Intersex 201 – Alliance with your LGBT organization on or off campus
Through alliances with existing organizations, the Intersex community can better leverage limited resources to make information and peer support available in all communities. LGBT organizations are the most resourceful organizations with which the Intersex community can develop such relationships. Through the relationships that we develop, we can enhance both the work of the Intersex community and that of LGBT organizations working at the national and local level. Organizations and their members can also help by talking to their friends and family members about the Intersex movement. The idea is that the more people are aware of Intersex the less likely they will be to accept surgery as the only option when they or someone they know have an Intersex baby.
Speaker 2, Caitlin Childs (Activist & Advocate)
Intersections: How disability can inform intersex in the classroom and beyond
When the Intersex Society of North America was founded in 1993, it incorporated the prior work of disability rights activists and disability studies scholars. Building on that history, this presentation will approach intersex by exploring its intersections and collisions with disability. Weaving my experiences as an intersex person and activist together with reflections on my organizing work in development disabilities and social justice, I will consider how ideas from disability studies and disability justice activism can continue to inform intersex discourse. Intersex and disability provide useful contexts for one another because of their many commonalities. Like disability, intersex is a large umbrella term under which many medical diagnoses fall. People with disabilities and people who are intersex live in bodies that are generally deemed undesirable and in need of correction and/or erasure through related processes of social and medical normalization. Issues of voice and agency compound the impact of this normalization. Medical experts and parents assume decision-making authority for both groups, imposing choices on their behalf and in their alleged “best interests” that deny them the right to fully informed consent and bodily integrity. Academic and professional experts who are not personally impacted routinely determine outcomes in policy, academic discourse, medicine, and general terminology without including intersex and disabled people or acknowledging the vital importance of their personal expertise and experience. This presentation will offer both practical and theoretical ways of addressing intersex in research, pedagogy, and organizing work that draw from and build upon disability studies.
Speaker 3, David A. Rubin (Senior Lecturer of Women’s and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt University)
“An Unnamed Blank that Craved a Name”: A Genealogy of Intersex as Gender
This lecture traces a genealogy of intersexuality’s underrecognized but historically pivotal role in the development of gender as a concept in twentieth-century American biomedicine, feminism, and their globalizing circuits. Using a queer feminist science studies approach, I argue that intersex has been and remains central to the history of gender as a classificatory schema, object of knowledge, technology of subject formation, and paradigm of sociality in late modernity. This genealogy pushes beyond current scholarship on intersexuality to suggest that, while dominant understandings of sex and gender have overdetermined the meaning of intersex, historically speaking, the concept of intersex paradoxically preceded and inaugurated what we would today call the sex/gender distinction. Through a close reading of psychoendocrinologist John Money’s biomedical research, I show that intersex was integral to the historical emergence of the category gender as distinct from sex in the mid-twentieth-century English-speaking world. I argue that Money used the concept of gender to cover over and displace the biological instability of the body he discovered through his research on intersex, and that Money’s conception of gender produced new technologies of psychosomatic normalization. Situating Money’s work within the history of feminist theorizing about sex and gender, I conclude by reflecting on what the intertwined histories of intersex, biomedicine, and feminism might mean for the field of women’s and gender studies.
Five College Intersex Symposium Sponsored By:
Five College Feminist Science and Technology Studies Initiative
Five College Women’s Studies Research Center
Five Colleges, Inc.
University of Massachusetts WGSS
Mt Holyoke Gender Studies
Hampshire Feminist Studies
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.
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.
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.