That Eternal Aftermath

It’s burst,
that Red Balloon floating
over the spindly-legged delicate
black lace Eiffel.

It splattered balloony-guts
in violent gouts
so grotesque
it’s nearly absurd,
and their
rubbery red-joke streaks
on the side
of that squatty arc
are anything but
Triomphe.

That’s how it works, terrorism…
that shock,
that
out-of-the-blue-blow-up
and your life
is doomed to never
the same
and yet never
recover
rinse-repeat cycle…

That’s how it is…
in my own private Paris,
misogynistic othering
phobic policing
sacks of pure hatred
shitting swaths
of bullets from
gender-uzis
and bursting Balloons here
and over the rainbowtumblr_ml9q09f3Za1rlrdqeo1_1280

“It’s A Healthy Little Baby!” (Gender TBD)

So Constance, on Sunday there was a birth announcement.  A child had been born, healthy and mom was okay too.  Everyone was happy and feeling good about a new little life in the world…and then came this:

“It’s a healthy little girl!”  Followed by a smattering of applause and some coos and happy noises…

…and just like that a potential nightmare of dysphoria is begun.

Can you see it here?  First of all, the very first thing we are told about this child is its gender, before anything else.  Everyone wanted to know this, and from this point on, that child is going to be socialized and treated according to cultural customs and expectations that may have nothing to do with who that child really is, and could be quite harmful to the child in that they would run directly counter to the child’s identity.

And we know the child’s gender how?  Why, because we looked between the legs…and now a human being’s first most basic categorizing has been accomplished in the name of genitalia.  Never mind the fact that there are all kinds of intersex conditions that only show up upon chromosomal examination…no need for that, right?

Now…the odds are that this child will turn out to be female.  But those odds are not as long as what everyone thinks.  And just think…if that child turns out to be like I was, and learns that their very being is wrong, is naught and ought not…

Not to mention how I felt, sitting there…in the midst of allies and friends mind you!  Who in all the reflex of the ritual sat there and gendered a human being less than a week old and without even having met the child let alone heard her tell us who she is! They would all say they support me…but it is sadly still a support after a couple of layers of thought and reminding themselves that I am “identifying female”.

And that makes me cry, because I identify as a human being. 

am female.

I get criticized often for being persnickety about words…I get anxious about what people mean and question closely and then feel like I am an irritant when others say that they were not speaking as specifically as I took what was said.

But I am that way because of things like this…when a whole identity has been rendered a done deal without even a word being said by the person thus sentenced.

When will it be natural for us to announce our healthy children, and the great anticipation that we have in finding out who they are?  Think how they would be brought up!  Think how much more balanced and developed they would be.

Oh, and don’t worry…they will tell us their gender.  It is that basic.  You can rest assured of that simply by reflecting on how you would react if someone sought to police you as a gender other than that which you are.

Gender is more than genitalia…when will our understandings of one another be so too?

Until then, I will find myself alone, and sitting embarrased while gender privilege is handed out right and left, and a certain ratio doomed by this policing to join me in the ranks of those of who sit in the pew together…all alone.tumblr_nnzn95pYkG1rznpc8o1_1280

 

“I Was Born a Baby Not a Boy”: Sex, Gender and Trans Liberation | sheisrevolutionarilysuicidal

“I Was Born a Baby Not a Boy”: Sex, Gender and Trans Liberation | sheisrevolutionarilysuicidal.

Constance…this is a longer, somewhat intellectually oriented article and covers a lot of cutting edge philosophical territory.

I include it on Grace Notes because it is interesting and worthwhile…but I would not say by any means it’s indispensable.

Enjoy.

Speaking up for Gender Equality: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

I don’t know why I didn’t think of reblogging this immediately!! But I dreamed about it last night, so here it is Constance.

Here is the deal with Dani…writing technique is precise and on point, intelligence and awareness informs that technique and keeps it quickened and living, topical selection is relevant and current, but more than anything else is that living throbbing sticky HEART that keeps every single one of us coming back for more.

I have been accused of being a fawning sycophant for Dani (giggle…first time in my life for that one!!)…but that is not true.  The fact is she is a writer of true talent and dedicated application of that talent.  Don’t believe me?  Just browse back thru her posts…you’ll see.  She will get you with one of her arrows, for sure.

🙂

You go, Girl, you go…and Constance, you go too over the BloomingSpiders and push “Follow”.

Love to my Sis…Charissa

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bloomingspiders

All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing. –Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Image courtesy of www.imaginepeace.com Image courtesy of http://www.imaginepeace.com

I turn 35 in nine days and, as is customary for this time of year, I take some heart notes on where I am and, more importantly, who I am.  I’d like to say that I have it together.  That I know every scar and tear in my soul’s heart, but that would be a lie.  And I don’t lie.  Not anymore.

This past year my thoughts have drifted over the length of who I am.  I have chosen my emotional metric to be strides taken, words spoken and moments of self shared.  I have looked beyond my shell to the soft center of my personhood.  And there…I have found pearls.  Among them sits this:

I am a woman.

And blessed to…

View original post 738 more words

Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide

So Constance…I was wracking my lil pea brain, trying to find a way to begin to teach others around me about privilege.

The man that I interacted with last week was so steeped in privilege that he was like a fish in water, who would be befuddled if you tried to explain privilege to him…

…and I am going to have to become erudite on this topic, beginning today.  So when I found the article below, I decided to just post the whole thing here…I hyperlinked the title so you can go to the website itself, Everyday Feminism (which I highly recommend as a good source of information).

Join me on the journey?  Let us resolve to live like this: giving to others the privilege we want for ourselves, for if we all of us did that…

…yeah, that would mean that we

did justly
loved mercy
walked humbly.

Love, Charissa

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Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide

Source: No Greater Joy

“Privilege” is a word you’ll hear often in social justice spaces, both offline and online.

Some people understand the concept easily. Others – and I was like this – find the concept confusing and need a little more help.

If you’re willing to learn about privilege, but you don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place!

Before we get started, I want to clarify that this article is not entirely comprehensive. That is to say, it’s not going to explain everything there is to know about privilege. But it’ll give you a good foundation on the basics.

Think of privilege not as a single lesson, but as a field of study. To truly understand privilege, we must keep reading, learning, and thinking critically.

Defining Privilege

The origins of the term “privilege” can be traced back to the 1930s, when WEB DuBois wrote about the “psychological wage” that allowed whites to feel superior to black people. In 1988, Peggy McIntosh fleshed out the idea of privilege in a paper called “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies.”

We can define privilege as a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group.

Society grants privilege to people because of certain aspects of their identity. Aspects of a person’s identity can include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, geographical location, ability, and religion, to name a few.

But big concepts like privilege are so much more than their basic definitions! For many, this definition on its own raises more questions than it answers. So here are a few things about privilege that everyone should know.

1. Privilege is the other side of oppression.

It’s often easier to notice oppression than privilege.

It’s definitely easier to notice the oppression you personally experience than the privileges you experience since being mistreated is likely to leave a bigger impression on you than being treated fairly.

So consider the ways in which you are oppressed: How are you disadvantaged because of the way society treats aspects of your identity? Are you a woman? Are you disabled? Does your sexuality fall under the queer umbrella? Are you poor? Do you have a mental illness or a learning disability? Are you a person of color? Are you gender non-conforming?

All of these things could make life difficult because society disenfranchises people who fit into those social groups. We call this oppression.

But what about the people society doesn’t disenfranchise? What about the people society empowers at our expense? We call that privilege.

Privilege is simply the opposite of oppression.

2. We need to understand privilege in the context of power systems.

Society is affected by a number of different power systems: patriarchy, white supremacy,heterosexism, cissexism, and classism — to name a few. These systems interact together in one giant system called the kyriarchy.

Privileged groups have power over oppressed groups.

Privileged people are more likely to be in positions of power – for example, they’re more likely to dominate politics, be economically well-off, have influence over the media, and hold executive positions in companies.

Privileged people can use their positions to benefit people like themselves – in other words, other privileged people.

In a patriarchal society, women do not have institutional power (at least, not based on their gender). In a white supremacist society, people of color don’t have race-based institutional power. And so on.

It’s important to bear this in mind because privilege doesn’t go both ways. Female privilege does not exist because women don’t have institutional power. Similarly, black privilege, trans privilege, and poor privilege don’t exist because those groups do not have institutional power.

It’s also important to remember because people often look at privilege individually rather thansystemically. While individual experiences are important, we have to try to understand privilege in terms of systems and social patterns. We’re looking at the rule, not the exception to the rule.

3. Privileges and oppressions affect each other, but they don’t negate each other.

I experience my queerness in relation to my womanhood. I experience these aspects of my identity in relation to my experience as a mentally ill person, as someone who’s white, as someone who is South African, as someone who is able-bodied, as someone who is cisgender.

All aspects of our identities – whether those aspects are oppressed or privileged by society – interact with one another. We experience the aspects of our identities collectively and simultaneously, not individually.

The interaction between different aspects of our identities is often referred to as anintersection. The term intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, who used it to describe the experiences of black women – who experience both sexism and racism.

While all women experience sexism, the sexism that black women experience is unique in that it is informed by racism.

To illustrate with another example, mental illness is often stigmatized. As a mentally-ill woman, I have been told that my post-traumatic stress disorder is “just PMS” and a result of me “being an over-sensitive woman.” This is an intersection between ableism and misogyny.

The aspects of our identities that are privileged can also affect the aspects that are oppressed.Yes, privilege and oppression intersect — but they don’t negate one another.

Often, people believe that they can’t experience privilege because they also experience oppression. A common example is the idea that poor white people don’t experience white privilege because they are poor. But this is not the case.

Being poor does not negate the fact that you, as a white person, are less likely to become the victim of police brutality in most countries around the world, for example.

Being poor is an oppression, yes, but this doesn’t cancel out the fact that you can still benefit from white privilege.

As Phoenix Calida wrote:

“Privilege simply means that under the exact same set of circumstances you’re in, life would be harder without your privilege.

Being poor is hard. Being poor and disabled is harder.

Being a woman is hard. Being a trans woman is harder.

Being a white woman is hard, being a woman of color is harder.

Being a black man is hard, being a gay black man is harder.”

Let’s look at the example of people who are both poor and white. Being white means that you have access to resources which could help you survive. You’re more likely to have a support network of relatively well-off people. You can use these networks to look for a job.

If you go to a job interview, you are more likely to be interviewed by a white person, as white people are more likely to be in executive positions. People in positions of power are usually the same race as you, so if they are racially prejudiced, it’s likely that they would be prejudiced in your favor.

A poor black person, on the other hand, will not have access to those resources, is unlikely to be of the same race as people in power, and is more likely to be harmed by racial prejudice.

So once again: Being white and poor is hard, but being black and poor is harder.

4. Privilege describes what everyone should experience.

When we use the word “privilege” in the context of social justice, it means something slightly different to the way it’s used by most people in their everyday environment.

Often we think of privilege as “special advantages.” We frequently hear the phrase, “X is a privilege, not a right,” conveying the idea that X is something special that shouldn’t be expected.

Because of the way we use “privilege” in our day-to-day lives, people often get upset when others point out some of their privileges.

A male acquaintance of mine initially struggled to understand the concept of privilege. He once said to me, “Men don’t often experience gender-based street harassment, but that’s not a privilege. It’s something everyone should expect.”

Correct. Everyone should expect to be treated that way. Everyone has a right to be treated that way. The problem is that certain people aren’t treated that way.

To illustrate: Nobody should be treated as if they are untrustworthy based on their race. But often, people of color – particularly black people – are mistrusted because of prejudice towards their race.

White people, however, don’t experience this systemic, race-based prejudice. We call this “white privilege” because people who are white are free from racial oppression.

We don’t use the term “privilege” because we don’t think everyone deserves this treatment.

We call privilege “privilege” because we acknowledge that not everyone experiences it.

5. Privilege doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard.

People often get defensive when someone points out that they have privilege. And I totally understand why – before I fully understood privilege, I acted the same way.

Many people think that having privilege means you have had an easy life. As such, they feel personally attacked when people point out their privilege. To them, it feels as if someone is saying that they haven’t worked hard or endured any difficulties.

But this is not what privilege means.

You can be privileged and still have a difficult life. Privilege doesn’t mean that your life is easy, but rather that it’s easier than others.

I saw this brilliant analogy comparing white privilege and bike commuting in a car-friendly city, and it inspired me to broaden the analogy to privilege in general.

So let’s say both you and your friend decide to go cycling. You decide to cycle for the same distance, but you take different routes. You take a route that is a bit bumpy. More often than not, you go down roads that are at a slight decline. It’s very hot, but the wind is at usually at your back. You eventually get to your destination, but you’re sunburnt, your legs are aching, you’re out of breath, and you have a cramp.

When you eventually meet up with your friend, she says that the ride was awful for her. It was also bumpy. The road she took was at an incline the entire time. She was even more sunburnt than you because she had no sunscreen. At one point, a strong gust of wind blew her over and she hurt her foot. She ran out of water halfway through. When she hears about your route, she remarks that your experience seemed easier than hers.

Does that mean that you didn’t cycle to the best of your ability? Does it mean that you didn’t face obstacles? Does it mean that you didn’t work hard? No. What it means is that you didn’t face the obstacles she faced.

Privilege doesn’t mean your life is easy or that you didn’t work hard. It simply means that you don’t have to face the obstacles others have to endure. It means that life is more difficult for those who don’t have the systemic privilege you have.

So What Now?

Often, people think that feminists and social justice activists point out people’s privilege to make them feel guilty. This isn’t the case at all!

We don’t want you to feel guilty. We want you to join us in challenging the systems that privilege some people and oppress others.

Guilt is an unhelpful feeling: It makes us feel ashamed, which prevents us from speaking out and bringing about change. As Jamie Utt notes, “If privilege guilt prevents me from acting against oppression, then it is simply another tool of oppression.

You don’t need to feel guilty for having privilege because having privilege is not your fault: It’s not something you chose. But what you can choose is to push back against your privilege and to use it in a way that challenges oppressive systems instead of perpetuating them.

So what can you – as a person who experiences privilege – do?

Understanding privilege is a start, so you’ve already made the first move! Yay!

There’s a great deal of information out there on the Internet, so I’d firstly recommend that you read more about the concepts of oppression and privilege in order to expand your understanding. The links in this article are a good place to start.

But merely understanding privilege is not enough. We need to take action.

Listen to people who experience oppression. Learn about how you can work in solidarity with oppressed groups. Join feminist and activist communities in order to support those you have privilege over. Focus on teaching other privileged people about their privilege.

Above all else, bear in mind that your privilege exists.

Sian Ferguson is a Contributing Writer at Everyday Feminism. She is a South African feminist currently studying toward a Bachelors of Social Science degree majoring in English Language and Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Cape Town. She has been featured as a guest writer on websites such as Women24 and Foxy Box, while also writing for her personal blog. In her spare time, she tweets excessively @sianfergs, reads about current affairs, and spends time with her gorgeous group of friends. Read her articles here.

What happened to me in 1965…

When I had just turned 6, I was pulled in two…for the next 45 years…

45 years.  Sounds like a prison sentence, doesn’t it?

“Charissa, we the jury sentence you to 45 years hard labor

in the male body penitentiary, no parole, no time off for good behaviour.

And you can never know what exactly is wrong with you

just that something is…wrong with you.

You are required to only know about part of yourself,

the other half belongs to us, in the name of gender, amen.”

*Gavel slams down and logs go bang in the fire*

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Fabulous Quote:

“Sexism occurs when we assume that some people are less valid or natural than others because of their sex, gender, or sexuality; it occurs when we project our own expectations and assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality onto other people, and police their behaviors accordingly; it occurs when we reduce another person to their sex, gender, or sexuality rather than seeing them as a whole, legitimate person. That is sexism.

“And a person is a legitimate feminist when they have made a commitment to challenging sexist double standards wherever and whenever they arise. An individual’s personal style, mannerisms, identity, consensual sexual partners, and life choices simply shouldn’t factor into it.”
― Julia Serano, Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive

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Reposting an article on People who are Intersex

Very well written and good article.  Please read it, and continue to learn about the amazing continuum that human gender is.  Ya know, the rainbow was given as a promise from God…it is a continuum as well!

 

I know the more I have learned, the more better I feel!  :)))

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DECEMBER 30, 2013

A NEW ERA FOR INTERSEX RIGHTS

POSTED BY 
hospital-nursery-580.jpgJim Ambrose was born in 1976, with, he wrote last year, “genitals that frightened my parents and caregivers.” He had one X and one Y chromosome, but his sex organs were ambiguous, resembling a large clitoris or a small penis. Doctors have an easier time eliminating tissue than adding it, and so they decided to surgically remove the organ and the nearby testes. The baby was raised as a girl, named Kristi Bruce.

When Ambrose was twelve years old, he began to take female hormones. At eighteen, he prepared to undergo a vaginoplasty, the surgical reconstruction of the vagina. Suffering from depression, Ambrose contemplated suicide. “I knew that I wasn’t a girl,” he later told a reporter. The following year, Ambrose obtained his medical records, and discovered what had happened to him as an infant: “I was sterilized at birth—and no one ever told me.” Ambrose was born with a condition that inhibited testosterone production; after adolescence, he began to take testosterone shots, and had surgery to remove his breasts.

 

Approximately one in every fifteen hundred to two thousand children born each year is diagnosed with a disorder or difference of sexual development. (Accurate figures are difficult to obtain, because it is difficult to measure degrees of physical and hormonal difference, and because many, like Ambrose, may not know they were diagnosed as such.) Some advocates believe the numbers are even higher: by the broadest measurement, one out of every hundred children has some subtle form of “sex anatomy variation.” Parents whose newborn babies have indeterminate genitalia typically follow what has long been the standard medical advice, to have doctors perform surgery to help the child conform to one or the other fixed gender category. Traditionally, the choice has been which gender to assign to the baby, not whether to put a baby through invasive surgery at all.

Today, we pride ourselves on letting children defy antiquated gender stereotypes. Boys can now have dolls, and girls Erector sets; we agree that the salient differences between genders are social constructs, and give little leeway to those who insinuate that, say, women have less aptitude for science and engineering. Yet, even as many fight against the persistence of rigid gender norms, we still separate the sexes as soon as kids are old enough to be potty-trained; when gym class arrives and locker rooms are needed, we push the boys and girls even farther apart. For all the progress that has followed from the enlightened credo that gender is but a construct, we keep hesitating at the notion that sex, too, does not obey strict binaries. Some people aren’t just pushing away from prototypes of sinewy maleness or delicate femaleness; they were born with bodies that don’t conform to the “M” or the “F” boxes on the census form. There are children, in other words, whose genes have not defined for them which bathroom to use, or where to change for gym class; babies can be born with XX chromosomes in certain cells, and XY chromosomes in others—mosaic genetics.

Attention to the complexities of biological variation is growing. Two weeks ago, the New Jersey legislature passed a bill that would grant citizens the right to change the gender on their birth certificate without having gender-reassignment surgery. The bill “revises the requirements for obtaining an amended certificate of birth due to a change in sex,” which can now be done through an official form indicating “that the person has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards, or that the person has an intersex condition.”

In early November, Germany—which, in part to combat the legacy of the Third Reich, has deliberately asserted the rights of marginalized groups—became the first country in Europe to allow a third gender designation: X, for indeterminate or intersex. (Australia introduced a similar measure in July.) If a baby is born with ambiguous sex characteristics, it won’t be forced to undergo a normalizing operation just so that nurses can tick “male” or “female” on its birth certificate. The legal acknowledgment of a third category should mean that fewer doctors urge parents to have sex-assignment surgery performed on their newborns. Fewer children should suffer the plight described by one person quoted in a report that helped lead to the new law, a German born with ambiguous genitalia in 1965, who spoke of being a “patchwork created by doctors, bruised and scarred.”

The law has angered some intersex-rights groups, who object to its stipulation that a child “assigned to neither the female nor the male sex … is to be entered into the register of births without such a specification.” The new designation, they argue, still presents a requirement rather than a choice; they want the determination to be a personal decision, not the result of doctors making judgments on the basis of observed physical characteristics.

These advocates feel that the law will do little to combat stigma, and may, in fact, inspire parents to push harder to avoid a formal intersex designation for their children. The law doesn’t solve the problem, in their words, of “the externally determined gender assignment, the practice of sexed standardization and mutilation, as well as medical authority of definition on sex.” The only real solution, some suggest, would be to ban gender-assignment surgeries for infants, which would provide intersex persons with the opportunity to decide, later in life, whether to identify with one gender, or neither.

While certain religious groups argue that sexuality is a choice (and certain sexual lifestyles are therefore sinful), no one makes that argument about biology, which might suggest a certain logic to granting rights to genetic difference before sexual preference. A report filed to the European Commission in June, 2011, implies that the case of intersex persons is more clear-cut than that of gay or transgender individuals: “Intersex people differ from trans people as their status is not gender related but instead relates to their biological makeup (genetic, hormonal and physical features).” By this token, Germany’s measure is a conservative one, addressed to questions of biology rather than identity, and not necessarily linked to the L.G.B.T. movement. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Germany (although civil unions are recognized), and the ruling on a third gender category does not clarify how the intersex designation might affect marriage laws.

While broader cultural developments have begun to clear space for the expression of formerly unorthodox sexualities and gender identities, those who would have once been called hermaphrodites remain even more marginal than transgender persons. But the order in which old taboos dissolve varies without much logic: the movement for gay rights and same-sex marriage has helped the admittedly slower recognition of transgender issues, while intersex rights have sometimes been granted in statutes, like the one in New Jersey, that enhance transgender rights. On December 17th, the Netherlands approved a law that will allow transgender people to change their gender on identity papers without undergoing sex-reassignment surgery, amending an earlier statute that did not grant individuals the autonomy to define their own gender identity. The Dutch law does not include a provision for intersex rights; in November, Maya Posch, a Dutch woman who is intersex and has fought for a decade to have her status acknowledged, announced that she planned to move to Germany. A lesbian in Berlin who wanted to marry might make the opposite move: the Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

Whatever the sequence, diverse expressions of gender and sexuality are becoming mainstream. In March, Margaret Talbot wrote in the magazine about Skylar, a transgender teen-ager who grew up with doting parents in an affluent suburb, a milieu vastly more open to his gender identity and decision to undergo surgery than would have been imaginable decades ago. “Like many ‘trans’ people of his generation,” Talbot wrote, “he is comfortable with some gender ambiguity, and doesn’t feel the need to be, as he puts it, a ‘macho bro.’ ” Talbot’s story about Skylar is about transgender identity being far less of a story than it used to be.

In 2000, when Jim Ambrose was twenty-four and still living as Kristi, he was one of the subjects of a short documentary, “XXXY,” by Porter Gale and Laleh Soomekh. Ambrose was a bike messenger then, and told the filmmakers that riding all day was an inhumane ordeal: “Vaginoplasty is so fucking disgusting and so barbaric, it’s starting to come out—the inner part of the intestine is starting to come out, stick out.” The film includes an interview with Ambrose’s parents, who seem quite helpless. His father recalls that doctors didn’t present much of a choice: they said—without malice, he notes—that they could simply correct the problem. And that was that. When their child found out about the surgery, Ambrose’s father says, “we tried to explain that we thought this was the best thing, with the doctors. But she was not very happy at all.” His mother adds, “She was real angry.”

Ambrose no longer sounds angry at his parents. In the film, he speaks about forgiveness; more recently, he wrote that parents “were often led to believe they were doing the best thing for the child.”

“XXXY” also contains a startlingly personal interview with Howard Devore, a clinical psychologist who is intersex. Devore speaks candidly about the emotional devastation of growing up as someone doctors consider a freak, someone the medical establishment tried to “repair” at birth. He has spoken with thousands of intersex people around the world. “I don’t know one intersex individual who is happy with the treatment they have received from the physicians they have consulted with over the years—not one,” Devore tells the filmmakers. “One’s sexual feeling, ability to feel like they can couple with another human being, is literally destroyed by some doctor’s idea of how genitals are supposed to look.”

In childhood, as soon as he realized that other kids spent their summer vacations at Yellowstone, Devore says, “I learned to lie. I couldn’t tell other kids I went to the hospital and had my genitals chopped up again.” He lived with a plastic tube attached to his genitals so that he could stand to pee; his urinary opening came at the base, not the tip, of his penis. Cosmetic surgery should not be performed on infants, he insists. “If they choose, later, to have a surgery—if it’s their choice. If I’d had the chance to do that, I wouldn’t have gone quite so horrible an adolescence, quite so difficult an identify formation as an adult.”

Today, Jim Ambrose works at the Interface Project, a nonprofit sponsored by Advocates for Informed Choice, a legal group that champions people with intersex conditions. Ambrose is a fellow of remarkable good humor, on display in a video introduction where he hails the effects of testosterone, “which makes my voice deep, and gives me this hair on my face, and”—he points—”is killing my hairline.”

“I have chest hair; I have much bigger muscles than I did before, because before,” he takes a beat, “I was living as female. And I was living as female because when I was born, I was born with a very small penis, and internal testes, and XY chromosomes. And my parents were very upset, my doctor was very upset, and the only information that they had out there to treat a problem like me was to remove my penis, and take out my reproductive organs, because they didn’t like the way it looked.”

“Remember: your kid is going to want his genitals. Your kid is going to want her genitals,” Ambrose tells the camera. “My mother regrets having my penis cut off and my testes cut out so, so much.”

Watching Ambrose’s testimonial today, it galls to think of this person in 2000, when he went by Kristi, saying that these surgeries would stop within his lifetime. In “XXXY,” he said it like a pledge, and today it’s becoming true: little by little, doctors and parents—and even politicians, from New Jersey to Germany to Australia—are questioning, delaying, and cancelling cosmetic genital and gender-assignment surgeries.

“I’ll get to talk to little hermaphrodites running around, I’ll get to hold them in my arms,” Ambrose says, choking up, in “XXXY.” “I’ll get to tell them—I’ll get to tell their parents how wonderful their children are.”

Photograph by Anastasia Taylor-Lind/VII.

Reposting an amazing Post on Being a Parent of…

a non gender conforming child.  Oh, how things have changed.  Where might I be if…

ah well…read on:

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A Thousand Heartbreaks

A Thousand Heartbreaks

While sitting around drinking coffee Sunday morning I came across this post on Raising My Rainbow and it broke my heart. On so many levels. This blog is about a gender nonconforming first grade boy named C.J. and his family. He dresses like a girl and plays with traditional girl toys. He’s amazing. You should read all about him. And, of course, he has a special place in my heart because my daughter Eliza lives between genders. She’s a badass if I haven’t mentioned it lately and so is C.J.

But recently C.J. wet his pants at school because he was being bullied in the boy’s bathroom. Little boys were peeking through the stall cracks trying to see if he had a penis or a vagina. Intimidated, C.J. stopped going to the bathroom at school and peed in his pants. After drying their collective tears, C.J.’s mom found herself at his school, in front of his teachers and principal, fighting for him. I have been there. And I know I will be there again.

We are mothers of children who don’t fit into the binary boy/girl paradigm our culture subscribes to. We are mothers of children who wear ill-fitting boxer briefs because they don’t make them to fit a girl’s frame. We are mothers of children who wear colorful bracelets and pink skirts but have to use the boy’s bathroom. We are the mothers who drag ourselves to the principal’s office, to the swimming pool, to the soccer team to explain once again that our child is different and fabulous. We are the ones who stand firm footed, square-eyed with people who don’t understand and tell them she’s amazing, she can really kick the ball, that she will be on the team, that she won’t wear a swim shirt unless she wants to, that it is okay to call her by the name she chooses even if it’s Frederick. We watch from the front row when she rocks a double-breasted suit at her guitar performance and we tell her every single day how lucky we are to be her parents. We are grateful for her. For him.

And, yet, we are tired. We live one step away from an off-handed remark, from a misplaced comment, from the seething rage we feel every time someone says something unkind to our perfect, loving, generous, brave children. We keep our children in a bubble as best we can, we pay for private schools, we live in small spaces, we try every day to live from a place of love and not fear. We hold them close at night and tell them there are other people like them even though we don’t know any of them. We tell them every day that they are so incredibly loved and we hope like hell the love and acceptance we’ve shown them will pay off, will protect them.

We harbor the kind of worry that is so profound it catches in our throats when we try to explain it. Because we can’t explain it.  We know our gender creative children are exactly who they are meant to be and in the dark moments that is more comforting that you can imagine.

While our children are breaking trail in front of us, we walk close behind with bright lights to search the path ahead. We are vigilant, we are strong, we have one eye on their safety and one eye on their self-esteem at all times. We allow stories like C.J.’s to break our hearts a thousand times so that we keep fighting. We take a deep breath and let it out because we know that if a child cannot safely go to the bathroom at school while dressed in clothes that make him feel comfortable, we have a long way to go.

Can’t get enough of Savagemama? Read more of her stories here!