Being intersex hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been my greatest teacher, and the lessons have been worth every tortured moment. Now, for me, being intersex is the fusion, the effortless union of yin and yang. It is a space all its own where something revolutionarily loving, balanced and harmonious is created. It actually exists, and it’s where I live.” — Hida Viloria, Born Both
Being intersex is at least as common as having red hair and more common than being transgender, based on recent statistics, and as “normal” and embraceable as any other gender. And yet, relatively few folks understand what the term means. Discrimination against intersex individuals carries on. And many doctors continue to recommend unnecessary surgeries to alter the genitalia of intersex babies, which can cause significant and lasting damage.
Thanks to folks such as Hida Viloria, these things are starting to change. I first met the Latinx writer, activist and author of the incredible memoir, Born Both, at last year’s World Sexual Health Day celebration at Stanford, where s/he spoke and I emceed. I’ve been learning a great deal from the powerhouse ever since.
Hida was raised as a girl only to realize in h/er early 20s that s/he was intersex. H/er parents opted against surgery and other treatments, allowing Hida to grow up unaltered physically, which has turned out to be beneficial on many levels.
S/he’s experienced life presenting as female, male and non-binary, experiences from which I believe we can all learn so much from, and has dedicated h/er professional life to helping intersex and non-binary people obtain equality “as part of a broader vision for a world that accepts and values difference of every kind.”
Hida is also chairperson of the Organization Intersex International, founding director of the Intersex Campaign for Equality and was the first openly intersex person invited to speak at the United Nations. S/he has a degree in Gender and Sexuality from the University of California at Berkeley, lives in Santa Fe with her partner and stepson and is an all around badass I can’t wait for you to hear from!
The episode includes:
- A definition of intersex, and ways it can play out
- Some of the awesome potential benefits of being intersex (Hint: one has to do with Girl Boners!)
- What Hida learned from presenting as male, after being raised as a girl
- Pronoun basics and what non-binary means
- How “politically correct” came about
- Why many doctors perform nonconsensual genital surgeries on babies (which are sometimes called intersex genital mutilation)
- Hida’s message for anyone who has a toxic relationship with their parent(s)
- What s/he most hopes readers will gain from Born Both
- What’s groovy about the Iroha Yoru vibrator by Tenga
- Dr. Megan Fleming and my thoughts for a listener whose husband has zero sex drive unless they agree to sex outside the marriage (which has caused problems for the couple previously)