A place for young people with intersex conditions or DSDs to come together, express themselves, and unite their individual stories to develop a voice for a new generation. We don’t always agree with each other, and we don’t expect you will, either.
email: inter.act at aiclegal.org
Inter/Act was founded with a grant from the Ms. Foundation, and receives ongoing support from Liberty Hill
When most adolescent boys in his Ugandan village were lobbing soccer balls, Julius Kaggwa was sidelined by an unusual phenomenon: He began to develop the breasts of a girl. His mother took this as a sign from the spirits that young Julius was intended to be female and she began to send him to school in girls’ dresses. The boy was mortified and became afraid to show his face in public. Life became so unbearable that he contemplated suicide.
Today, Kaggwa, 44, is the founder and director of Support Initiative for People with Congenital Disorders, the first group of its kind in East Africa to serve the intersex population. Intersex individuals are those born with indeterminate sex because of hormonal, physiologic or other medical anomalies.”
Naturally, it didn’t take long for the shame to sink in. It ate at me, made me untrusting, sad and small. For years, it was all I could feel. I didn’t trust that anyone could love me with the knowledge of my “condition.” I kept asking myself questions like, “Am I supposed to like girls? Boys?” or “Who am I? Is it worth even trying with people because they’ll never understand.” The girl who used to chatter incessantly became stuttering, silent, angry — unable to trust her own thoughts. Shame made me into a cold, selfish person I didn’t recognize.
It’s taken me years to rid myself of shame, and even more years to start to appreciate my intellect, recognize my strengths and begin to speak out for myself and my community. But without the example of people who inspired me to be fearless and open about myself and a group of wonderful friends, I might still be in that black box of shame with room to breathe but no room to grow.
Last week, however, Fox News made me feel that shame again. Some of their commentators made me, and my community, a punchline to their joke. Instead of celebrating a move Facebook made to give its users a chance to fully express their gender or sexual identity, Fox News correspondents decided to mock it. Unable to realize their own ignorance, they snickered at the thought that anyone could identify as intersex, even asking the question, “What if you want to identify as a pinecone?”
By laughing at our identity, they proved they’d rather spread ignorance than grapple with the complexity of our truths. We are all different, and our differences don’t make us any less human. Their commentary added to the chorus of those in power who continue to force us to accept a binary that isolates and leaves out people like me. I feel so sorry for those people. They forget that if we would accept others and be more open, like Facebook is trying to do, maybe we could stop making each other feel so deeply screwed up. Maybe, just maybe, we could even make each other better.”
“In response, a group of intersex writers known as Inter/Act sent an open letter to Fox News suggesting that, gosh darn it, intersex people are people too, despite the Fox and Friends team’s ignorance of their existence and unwillingness to acknowledge their identities. They went on to suggest that sex, like gender, may not be a simple binary and that our society might just be oversimplifying things a little bit by forcing everyone into two separate and mutually exclusive boxes based on first glance at birth.”