By Jim Bruce, Communications & Youth Coordinator for Advocates for Informed Choice
October 26 is International Intersex Awareness Day.
This day marks our calendars because one of the first intersex advocacy groups, The Intersex Society of North America (operating as “Hermaphrodites with Attitude”), picketed the American Association of Pediatrics annual conference in Boston on October 26th, 1996. The picketers were angry that doctors attending the conference continued to recommend normalizing cosmetic surgeries on the genitals of intersex kids. Many of those protesting had been subjected to those kinds of damaging and irreversible surgeries when they were infants. As brave as these individuals were, their appeals for reason and restraint went largely unheard by the medical community that day. Many medical policymakers thought then- and many still believe today- that these protesters experienced “old surgical methods” and that “surgical procedures are better now” and “overall patient treatment is vastly improved.”
That was then, this is now.
And things have changed.
Today, Advocates for Informed Choice (AIC) proudly announces the landmark publication of “What We Wish Our Doctors Knew”, a brochure written and produced by the first youth leadership development program of its kind: Inter/Act . Inter/Act is a space for young people with intersex conditions or DSDs (differences of sex development) to come together from all over the world to express themselves, uniting their individual stories to develop a voice for a new generation. Inter/Act was created to help mold tomorrow’s intersex advocates with the goal of creating greater understanding among peers, parents, doctors, scholars, and supporters about the varied experiences and perspectives of young people with different bodies.
Now, for the first time, young people born with intersex conditions have a platform. This program helps them to speak directly to their doctors about how they experience treatment. Inter/Act allows young people a safe place to voice the complicated emotions of that come with an intersex condition. They can express their concerns, encouragement, fear, hope and anger- something those protesters in Boston were unable to do. For these reasons alone “What We Wish Our Doctors Knew” is revolutionary. AIC and Inter/Act believe this document will serve to advance the dialogue between young people, parents, medical providers and activists, and we’re sharing it with you. Please pass it on!
Finally, AIC simply can’t sit still, so we’re thrilled to unveil our newest program, The Interface Project (TIP)! TIP’s mission is to gather and share personal stories of people living with an intersex condition or DSD to spread the message, “No Body Is Shameful.” We have done some work to get the first videos (http://www.youtube.com/theinterfaceproject) produced but there is more to be done! With your help we will continue to bring you powerful stories of people with intersex conditions in their own words.
Now you know some of the significance of October 26. Please help AIC and other organizations worldwide increase the visibility of a community that has been unseen for far too long.
Jim Bruce is the Communications & Youth Coordinator for Advocates for Informed Choice. A Louisiana native, Jim now lives in Missoula, Montana.
For more information on Advocates for Informed Choice, Inter/Act , The Interface Project, or, if you would like a copy of “What We Wish Our Doctors Knew” (http://aiclegal.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/interact_ms-updated.pdf) email Jim Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org.