Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I am Thankful For

Thanksgiving is next week. Contrary to popular image, there is more to this holiday then stuffing your face and watching football. In honor of Thanksgiving, I have decided to list some of the many things I am thankful for in hopes that, in these hard times, my readers will remember that we all have much to be truly thankful for.

1. My family (both nuclear and extended) and friends (I know sometimes I don't express it very well, but I do love all of you, more then you'll ever know)

2. Chocolate

3. Being intersexed (this may sound odd, since it has also been a great source of emotional pain for me, but it is also a great gift, allowing me to question myself and society and see beyond some of the most pervasive artificial social constructs we have)

4. Rock 'n Roll

5. A roof over my head, and food in my stomach (that's more then a lot of people have, never forget that)

6. A hot cup of tea on a cold day

7. today, because it is another opportunity to make a positive change

8. dogs (truly the greatest, most loyal friend you can have)

9. Freedom of speech (the single best defense against tyranny, and essential to right sociopolitical wrongs)

10. beautiful violin solos

11. graduating from college debt free, what a great gift

12. an exhilarating fencing duel

13. The variety of humanity (it would be so boring if we were all the same)

14. jazz (hot or cool, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing)

15. being able to laugh at myself, its important for good mental health

16. fine wine

17. volunteering, its very important, we should all be thankful for the opportunity to give back, and be thankful for others who volunteer

18. The change of seasons, each one has special qualities to it that keep things interesting, I wouldn't want to live somewhere with more constant weather.

19. birds, their singing and flying free always makes me happy

20. Camping, a great way to relax and reconnect with nature

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

more on queer inclusion

In September I made a post about the connection between intersex and the LGBT movement. In retrospect I realized that I painted an overly rosey picture about that relationship. There are complaints by some on both sides about sharing an identification.

Some of these complaints have some justification. Intersexuals realize homophobia and transphobia are largely the motivations behind surgical mutilations. Their parents and doctors (especially if they are more traditional in regards to gender roles) are terrified their intersexed baby will end up gay or will transition away from their assigned gender. Books with intersex narritives are full of stories about parents who are very strict about their kids gendered behavior. They fear that streanghening this relationship between the LGBT and intersex in the public mind will weaken their anti-surgery message. It is also true that many intersexuals consider themselves straight and do not want to be associated with LGBT's. They certainly have the right to identify any way they want. These are both valid arguments, however, they should be aware that intersexuals, homosexuals, transexuals, and all queers, are really fighting the same fight, but I will get to that later.

Many gays are not afraid so much as they are confused. They realize they have different agendas then intersexuals and even transexuals (who have been associated with them for a lot longer) and don't see why they are lumped togeather. This is especially true of some lesbians, many of whom are very knoweldegable about radicle feminist theory, some of whom exclude transexuals, feeling that transmen (most of whom were butch lesbians) are traitors who have internalized sexism issues, and transwomen are wannabes who will never be "real" women. Like some intersexuals, these gays do not realize that all queers are fighting the same adversary.

This common fight is against heteronormativity. All of these groups do have specific issues that pertain to them on a more personal level, but the fight is the same. They all cannot be themselves within societies gender expectations. Members of all of these have been ostracized, mutilated, arrested, raped, and killed out of fear and social disaproval. More groups are realizing this common fight and becoming more inclusive. This is wonderful. Queers are such a small percent of the over all population, the more people we have on board, the more effective we will be in our struggle to live and function in society the way we want, as equals without being hurt out of fear and misunderstanding from society at large.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Intersex List of Demands

This list was written in 2004 by some intersex activists in Atlanta. It is a good list, and gives great advise for anyone who wants to be understanding and not accidentally offend intersexuals, so I decided to post it.


  • 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.

Friday, November 6, 2009

religion and intersex

Today I am going to tread into the dangerous, controversial waters of religion and queer identities, and more specifically intersexuality.

In the Abrahamic religions the trouble starts out in Genesis with the creation of Adam, and then Eve as his companion. This story has been used to justify the subjugation of women and the exclusion of gays (remember the old homophobic chant "Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve?"). This also affects intersexuals because it denies that we exist. If God only made men and women, then hermaphrodites must really be one or the other, and the victim of a deformity. Some Jewish sect believe this is inaccurate, claiming that Adam was a hermaphrodite, poiniting out how the pronouns used for him switch from masculine to feminine.

In Matthew 19:12, Jesus specifically refers to intersexuals, calling them eunuchs born of their mothers womb, as opposed to being castrated. In ancient times enunchs were given important religious, and royal administrative jobs, as well as guarding harams (somewhat simular to two spirit people in Native American cultures, both were also considered to be a third gender, neither male nor female). However Jesus also says eunuchs should not get married, and urges them twoard celibacy.

In Islam, Quranic law provides for the existance of intersexuals, a third gender called khuntsa. They are allowed to live as men or women and could marry men or women. They prayed between the men and women in the Mosque and were required to wear some male and some female clothing. They had all of the rights and most of the obligations of both a Musilm man and Muslim women within their society.

The very existance of intersexuals threatens fundamentalists of most religions since one of their primary goals is ordering and controling sex. Many fundamentalists thus claim intersex is unnatural and contrary to God's will (Ironic since intersexuality is the most physiologically obvious form of queer, there can be absolutly no question as too whether its a choice). They generally support surgery as a way to continue the social construct of dichotomic sex, which they see as a prerequisite for personhood.

In other words religious societies have created spaces and roles for intersexuals, however these positions have been disappeared, and are unlikely to reappear until intersexuals are no longer hidden. Perhaps its time to take a lesson from our past and recognize that intersexuals are also created by God in his image.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Here Comes the (sort of) Bride

Very soon, the courts of this country will discover the problem the International Olympic Committee has had for years, man and woman are not easy to define. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) refers to marriage between 1 man and 1 woman as if they are obvious, self evident catagories. If this horrible law, and other state laws persist, not only will it continue to hurt gays, but it also puts intersexuals in an ackward spot in regards to the legal validitiy of their relationships. What happens to the intersexuals who are in straight marriages? Under a strict interpretation of DOMA their marriages could be declaired nonvalid in some states. What about intersexuals who consider themselves gay and want to enter a same gender marriage? By definition, can an intersexual be gay or staight? Technically they would have to marry another intersexual with the same condition for it to be a same sex marriage, and that could look gay or straight to the outside world, depending on how the participants choose to live. For those who transition later in life, it gets even more complicated. Some states uphold the gender transsexuals transitioned into as their legal sex, while others do not. For example Texas and Kansas courts have said chromosomes are the determiner of sex, allowing transsexuals in same gender relationships with a cisgendered (gender "normal") person to get married, but ironically transsexuals in a different gendered (straight) relaitionship with a cisgendered person cannot. For intersexuals this gets even more confusing since some of us, like me, have ambiguous chromosomes. I wonder, in Texas and Kansas, could I legally marry anyone, or no one. It is true what they say, sunlight is the best antisceptic. These homophobic laws are meaningless when faced with the reality that their catagories are arbitraty and all but impossible to define. Any two consenting adults who want to get married should be able to without regards to sex or gender. To do otherwise is a blatently discriminatory and mean spirited. It is unjust, and for transexuals and intersexuals, needlessly complicated. Support love, not fear and hate.