While my posting is slacked off a bit this week, I hope to keep posting and find some new energy next week with the start of Lent. Here's the next in the Role Models series: Each month, once a week, I hope to write about someone in my life, in history, or otherwise who has influenced me, inspired me, or challenged me in some way (maybe all three!). On Monday, I had the opportunity to see the documentary Intersection at Simmons College, hosted by a member of my Quaker meeting who was interviewed for and appears in the documentary. My role models this week is the cast of the film.
The film was extraordinary. It was informative, surprising, and so much more. There were moments I cried and there were moments I laughed. The cast was brave and real and vulnerable. This film is a must see!
As a young women thinking of having children some day, the film brought to my attention, among many things, the practice of surgically altering intersex children without their parents permission. While there are large conversations to be had about the binary gendered world we live in, I found that this part of the film really hit hard. This practice of infant surgery infuriates me--taking choice and consent out of the parents and the child's hands.
Many of my friends are regularly having in-depth conversations about gender. I feel blessed to have had the experience in high school of having one of my youth leaders go through the transition from female to male. And while the trans-community wasn't as well formed as it is now, I feel really lucky to have been part of a community that was inclusive and welcoming of everyone.
It wasn't until college when I became more familiar with gender transitions and also had friends who identified as gender neutral and gender queer. I have attended many Quaker youth gatherings where the topic of gendered and non-gendered bathrooms has been discussed. These days, its normal for people to request that your pronoun preference be added to your name tag.
But the intersex community was a group of people that I did not know much about. There was an episode of House where a young child who had been raised female discovered that they had XY chromosomes and decided that HE felt more male than female; making the transition in the episode. I did not know though about the horrors of life long surgical manipulations in the process of assigning gender at the point of birth... or the psychological burden of those who feel that they must hide that they were born with both male and female genitals.. how common intersex children are... or the strength of so many of these individuals as they reclaim identities that were taken from them at birth. The list goes on.
I think that Beacon Hill Friends Meeting will be hosting a showing of the film in late March or sometime in April. I highly recommend going to see it. I'll probably go see it again. My first viewing of the film left me with many questions and concerns... as you can tell, I'm still reflecting on it.
"The first question any new parent asks… “Is it a boy or a girl?” What if it’s neither? 1 in 2,000 babies is born with genitalia so ambiguous that the doctors cannot easily answer this question. In this groundbreaking documentary, intersex individuals reveal the secrets of their unconventional lives – and how they have navigated their way through this strictly male/female world, when they fit somewhere in between." (intersexionfilm.com)