Tag Archives: intersex

Reminder: Intersex Awareness Talk at UMKC, April 6, 2016

Intersex_FlagThe Intersex Pride Flag

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 6th, there will be the ” ‘Who Am I?’ Intersex Awareness Talk” at UMKC. The talk will feature testimony from intersex individuals, such as myself and my guest Sieran from my February radio program. We will talk about growing up and living as an intersex person, and how it shaped our lives, as well as discussing some of the science of intersex, and take questions from the audience on any intersex or trans*-related subject.

The talk will be held in the UMKC Student Union, Room 302, from 2 to 3 PM. Please park carefully, as the UMKC parking police do not mess around; just take my word for it. There is metered parking in the Cherry Street garage, and other metered parking scattered about the campus.

February 2016 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

KKFI

Hello everyone! On Trans Talk this month the we’re going to be talking with two people in our studio. First we’ll speak with Dr. Hiten Soni, a psychiatrist who strongly supports the transgender community, especially regarding the subject of surgery. Next we will speak to Sieran, an intersex transgender person, about both his own personal journey and the challenges faced by intersex persons in general. And for this month’s show, my wife Fiona Nowling will be a guest co-host.

I will also give a breakdown of some of the LGBT news this week, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, February 20 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

Transgender History – Georgina (Turtle) Somerset

Turtle_Georgina_1962_10_13_01
Georgina Turtle (born George Turtle, later Georgina Somerset) was a transsexual woman who claimed to be intersex, bearing an ovary and rudimentary womb. She was born March 23 1923, and died November 30 2013. She lived her life in England.

Although her earliest recollections were of wanting to be a girl, these were suppressed as she entered young adulthood being trained in her father’s profession as a dentist. After being called up as the war in Europe ended, Turtle served as a surgeon-lieutenant in the Royal Navy until 1948, at which point she established a dental practice in Croydon. In the mid-1950’s, Turtle began taking estrogen and living as a woman, and underwent her first surgery for gender confirmation in January, 1957. Later that same year she was attacked and raped, an event which she never completely recovered from and which led to a gender back-lash for her.

In 1960 Turtle’s birth certificate was finally corrected to show “him” as a girl named Georgina Carol Turtle. Two years later, she married Christopher Somerset, a design engineer. At her 13 October 1962 wedding at St Margaret’s in Westminster, Gina (as she liked to be called) asked her brother to give her away. When he declined, she asked two uncles, and then her family doctor: all declined. Her landlord stepped in, and the wedding went ahead. The couple settled at Hove, where Turtle ran a busy dental practice until her retirement in 1985.

At the link below, I have collected 8 photographs for my readers, three in high-resolution.

Transas City’s Georgina Turtle Page

A Story I’ve Tried to Avoid – Michael Phelps’ ‘girlfriend’ Claims to be Intersex

This has made the usual rounds of the blogs, dear readers, and I have tried my best to avoid covering it. Why, you may ask? Because the story appears to have the hallmarks of a publicity-seeking fabrication.

The story in a nutshell, albeit a large one (perhaps a Brazil nut?) is that:

  • A woman named Taylor Lianne Chandler claims to be both Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps’ girlfriend, as well as having been born David Roy Fitch.
  • She claims to be intersex, having been born with a penis and a uterus, and having undergone surgery and hormones to be female.
  • She claims she and Phelps have an ‘amazing sex life,’ and that they even had sex at a Baltimore Ravens football game (nothing else to do, I suppose…)
  • She now is worried that Phelps may no longer want to be with her due to this admission.

It’s sort of the perfect setup: “I’m his secret girlfriend, but when I tell you this he will disavow all knowledge of our relationship.” The only thing missing is a tape recorder which self-destructs in 5 seconds. I’m wondering if I should try this with Keira Knightly.

“Keira and I had a torrid love affair which took place only in the lavatories of First-Class trans-Atlantic British Air flights,” claimed Una. “She taught me this special thing to do to her, called ‘Bend it like Ellen,’ which used to make her scream my name! Sadly, she swore me to secrecy because her agent said having a transsexual lesbian girlfriend would cramp her style.” Una then gazed into the distance, and whispered “but I miss her so…I had to tell the world…sniffle..sob.”

Note for the record that if Ms. Chandler does turn out to be Phelps’ girlfriend, I’m going to appear a rather catty bitch…

Michael Phelps’ ‘girlfriend’ Taylor Lianne Chandler says she was born male | Daily Mail Online.

Meet Claudette, An Intersex Sex Worker From Switzerland

Every week or so I read a really powerful story on the web, or offline, which I simply must highlight. In this case my friend Elle pointed me to such a story, which is highly unusual and may be a little disturbing to some of my readers.

The story in question is a photo essay on the Huffington Post about Claudette, a 77 year-old intersex prostitute from Switzerland. The story is incredible for several reasons:

  • The fact that she is honestly intersex of course is the primary reason. Few intersex persons will open up so much about their lives as she has in this short photo essay.
  • The fact that she has willingly chosen sex work as a profession, something which is vanishingly rare among intersex persons.
  • The fact that she is 77 years old. All mention of her being intersex aside, you rarely come across stories of elderly sex workers in any context.

From the article:

To fully play with the possibilities and ramifications of gender roles, Claudette turns to prostitution. “Prostitution becomes a source of self confidence,” Claudette explained, “for people who see in prostitutes the ultimate femininity and who assume this role with happiness and a sense of relief.”

Though her unconventional gender identity and choice of profession are commonly associated with trauma and shame, Claudette wears both aspects of her life with pride and joy. Refusing to be pitied for what other people may be uncomfortable with, Claudette displays the immense power that accompanies a deep love for oneself. With honesty and bravery, she creates a life for herself on her own terms — a life that, despite the more unconventional details of her existence, is made up of the universal components of work, family, memories and love.

“Claudette unnerves some people because she lives a happy and coherent life while denying a fundamental moral precept,” Delrieu[the reporter] said.

Her story at the link below is short, and I would really love to read an autobiography. There are a few photographs which are NOT work safe, so be careful about clicking the link.

Meet Claudette, An Intersex Sex Worker From Switzerland (NSFW).

ESSAY: Una Rambles a Bit About the Cisgender Focus on Genitals

Vogue-Breathless

I confess that I saw the Barney’s photo shoot for their catalog which featured transgender models when the news first ran, and I didn’t feel it was really newsworthy enough to report upon. Vogue disagreed, and ran a transgender advocacy piece on their website, which is linked below.

The article is an interesting read, but there’s nothing really groundbreaking. However, this quote from the article caught my eye:

It’s astonishing the amount of time that certain straight people devote to gay sex—trying to determine what goes where, and how often. They can’t imagine any system outside their own, and seem obsessed with the idea of roles, both in bed and out of it.

This is very true when I debate transgender rights on various message boards across the net, but in a different way. Many cisgender people want to focus on our genitals. It’s the first thing they think of when they meet a transgender person, and if they are socially inept enough one may be asked “OMG! Are those tits real? Did you have your dick cut off? OMG!” When a transman is encountered, the reaction can be “OMG! So do you like wear a strap-on all the time?! OMG!”

This of course is at best willful ignorance, and at worst thinly-disguised hate.

The questions also come fast and furious about our sexual preference: “So, um, do you date men? Does that make you gay, or ‘something else?’ So you stayed married to your wife? Are you, like, a lesbian? How do you have sex? Doesn’t the wife miss ‘the dick?’ ” (well if she did, I could introduce her to the giant talking one I’m facing right now…) And most charming of all, “um, hey, can I watch?”

Charlie Sheen; Jon Cryer
Yeeees…lesbians…

For all that many cisgender people define transgender persons by our genitals and sexual intimacy, they miss the glaringly obvious point that it’s they who are thinking about the penis, the vagina, the breasts, and all the rest of the naughty bits which fill the average American with a frisson of glee whenever the subject arises. In doing so they admit their ignorance on understanding what gender really is. What is a man? What is a woman? They ignore the entire 99% or more of our lives which are spent in a gender role – living, loving, going to work, playing, shopping, and everything else – outside of sex.

Conservative religious followers scream with fury “THEY WANT TO PUT BOYS IN OUR GIRLS’ BATHROOMS!” and contemptuously brush aside the overarching whole of “what does it really mean to be a girl?” Others claim that the Bible, Koran, and other holy books are always and forever literally true, every word of them: God created men and women, there is nothing else, and you don’t dare presume to change that fact. When confronted with the fact that intersex people exist, they either brush it off as a birth defect, deny that intersex people exist and claim it’s all part of a government conspiracy, or go so far as to claim that intersex people are demonic spawn who God personally wants them to ostracize, mock, hurt, and kill.

And these folks can vote. Think about that for a golden moment.

I’ve told these folks “Me personally, I don’t believe God makes mistakes. The fact is, intersex people do exist, transgender people do exist, and we are all children of God, a creator, or nature and the universe, depending on your beliefs. You believe in an omnipotent and omniscient God, but think they made a mistake somehow? What the hell, do you think they were they doing Jäger shots when they created me?”

Jager
God doesn’t make mistakes, nor did they do Jäger shots when creating intersex and transgender persons.

Rarely are their hearts and minds open to the possibility that their own God did not make a mistake, and rather it is ever-so fallible human beings who are mistaken when they wrote the Bible.

Perhaps if as a society we educated our children on understanding gender – not just the traditional roles, but the reality of gender fluidity and gender ambiguity – rather than sex, we would raise a generation of children wherein small-minded, hateful bigots would be a vanishingly small minority.

Breathless: Ignorance or Insensitivity? Dealing with Transgender Culture – Culture – Music, Movies, Art, Profiles, and More.

A New Era for Intersex Rights : The New Yorker

When the New Yorker pays attention to intersex conditions and rights, you know it’s starting to enter the mainstream. Intersex persons have come a long way, but they are in some ways even more poorly understood than transgender persons.

Intersex persons have long been subjected to terrible abuses, vivisection, torture, and murder, primarily by the Christian churches of old. When the Bible tells us that God created ONLY men and women, someone born as “both” or “neither” becomes a threat to Biblical literalists. At that point, your options are to admit that a book written by human beings might be faulty (even if God is infallible), or else round up the “abominations” and kill them.

It is strongly debatable whether or not transgender persons are intersex. If in fact transgenderism is caused by physical changes to the structure of the brain, as I wrote about at length here, then it’s prima facie true that we are all intersex. However, others argue that in order to be considered intersex, one must either have outwardly visible symptoms in their genitals, or suffer directly from a karyotype disoder. I do not know the right answer. It might be a case where we have too many labels.

A New Era for Intersex Rights : The New Yorker.

Intersex/Transgender Themed Short Film – Annabel

AnnabelI know this is a few years old, but I just came across it today and I thought it was simply breathtaking. It’s an artistic short film which serves as a music video for Goldfrapp’s Annabel, and was inspired by the novel of the same name. The story is one of an intersex child born in Canada in 1968, who struggled terribly from her father’s desire to raise her as a boy, and her mother’s desire to raise her as a girl. Not only is she torn apart inside herself, but her own family was pulling her two different directions.

It’s worth the 7-minute watch.

Man Admitted to Hospital for Kidney Stone, Discovers She’s Intersex

Crecelius_Steve_IntersexThis is similar to how my intersex condition was detected – I was being tested for something else, and the doctor said “whoa, why is your estrogen so high and your testosterone nonexistent?” And like me, she felt like she was a woman from a very early age, and had no idea she really was mostly one. What’s really nice in this case is that Stevie was accepted openly by her family and friends.

Man Admitted to Hospital for Kidney Stone, Discovers She’s Intersex – ABC News.