I thought the best way to kick off the personal journal pages was to submit my story. I hope you will join me, so that I can gather the voices to inspire potential financiers to financially support our film project. You personally may not have the money to donate your financial support. But you can share your story with the stories and voices of others to encourage those that do have the means to help us reach our goal. Together we can change the world!
I am not intersex. So I cannot say that I can relate directly to someone who was born intersex. Because it is not the same. Being born intersex or finding out later in life that you are intersex is a unique experience. Depending on the condition, different people will experience their life challenges differently. I was like Dr. Milton Diamond. I had friends that were unique. Some of them were males with female traits and mannerisms. Others were females with male traits and mannerisms. I have always been a scientist. I wanted to find out why.
So I started to do the research in August of 2012. I started to dig and read and to listen. I began to discover words I had never heard of before. I was familiar with hermaphrodite from Greek history and biology. But I always thought ‘intersex’ had something to do with a person’s sexual orientation. By that I mean, I thought it had something to do with which biological sex a person chose to share their most intimate sexual moments with.
I soon found out that intersex had little to do with the preference for the specific biological sex of a sex partner. I also discovered one of the many reasons people remain confused on the topic. Much of it has to do with rhetoric. Rhetoric has many meanings, all of them valid. But in this case, I refer to the ‘accuracy of speech’, or more precisely, the ‘inaccuracy’ of speech.
The word ‘sex’ can be used as both a verb and a noun in the English language. As a verb, ‘sex’ refers to ‘a sexual act’. The noun usage of the word ‘sex’ is a biological term. It means male or female. This confuses many people. Whenever you use the word sex in a sentence, if you do not give it specific meaning within the context of the sentence, people become easily confused. Because of popular culture, they will immediately associate the word with ‘a sexual act’.
This makes it difficult for communicators such as myself, to communicate a message publicly without confusing people. It is at best, a challenge. The second example of rhetoric is the varied definitions of the terms ‘transgender’ and ‘transexual’. In fact, the definitions of both terms are somewhat nebulous when you consider the many variations that exist. There is a spectrum of meaning that may refer to someone who may dress or identify with the opposite sex, all the way to the many different stages of complete biological transformation.
Communicating a message on the topic is further complicated by the many variations of biological intersex and the various lifecycle stages of some intersex conditions. The further I dug into the research, the more I realized how very complicated the subject really is. I also realized how the intersex community had been marginalized, neglected and persecuted throughout human history, with few exceptions.
It was this enlightenment that lit the socially masochistic bulb off in my head. I felt, as a filmmaker, I had to inform and educate on the biology and nature of intersex. The stories of brutal birth mutilations and the realities of the adolescent social and psychological torment, convinced me our society was wrong. Our society was very wrong.
I knew from the beginning my task would be a daunting challenge. I live in Texas where there is no lack of intolerance. I knew it would not be much different anywhere else in the world. And I was right.
The first sign of trouble came when I had been corresponding with a reputable researcher. She wanted to correct my use of the word ‘gender’. To be clear, ‘gender’ is a social construct, ‘sex’ is biological. My next wake up moment was when I visited a local public radio station to promote the campaign. One of the station hosts of the LGBT show, a trans person herself, asked me why I wasn’t talking about the trans issues. A decision I had made from the beginning to keep my focus on intersex.
Another reputable academic suddenly pulled her public support without reason. Then another, a filmmaker, pulled her support unexpectedly and without explanation. It was at about the same time that I received an email from a past president of an international intersex support group, scolding me on the incorrect use of the term ‘gender’. Honestly, her email was like a stab in the back. It was political. I won’t go into details here.
It was at this point I realized that I would not just be getting discouragement from the world in general, but I would also be getting discouragement from certain members within the LGBT community and certain individuals in the intersex community. Some of these people had their own personal agendas. It was then I realized that not everyone I had communicated with was sincere.
Meanwhile, as this was happening, I ran one Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that did not raise any money. But it did raise initial awareness. And a second Indiegogo campaign later, which raised only minimal funding. Mostly from close friends and family. At that point, after two years of working diligently and achieving only minimal success, I was physically and psychologically toasted and fried. I had to step back and regroup.
During that time it was not all bad news. I found a producer, Martin Freeth, in the UK, who was willing to donate his time and efforts to help me produce a short promo. I continued to receive support from Dr. Milton Diamond and others. I was receiving emails from people telling me of their situations, oftentimes heartbreaking. Or emails and messages thanking me for the work I was doing to inform and educate.
That is my story. It is your stories that inspire and motivate me to continue. Why is my story different? Why is the end product different from all the others? Because I made the commitment to approach the topic through the eyes of science and the people who are intersex. Not dictated by sensationalism, broadcasters, special interests or just one medical opinion. To dig out all the research and to sift through the politics and aggrandizement. To reveal the science and tell the story without judgement And without being the mouthpiece for any one opinion or skewed viewpoint.
I decided from the beginning to relate the stories from the viewpoint of those most affected by the medical decisions, legislative decisions and community regulations. The pages on this website, the Youtube channel and the Facebook page are the voices of this film. They are your voices amplifying the work of intelligent and compassionate researchers from around the world.
Our hope, our goal, and our mission, is for more intersex people around the world to realize and understand that there are others around the world just like them. Each with very unique stories and challenges. Being intersex is part of the diversity of nature. We will strive to educate our society, our culture and our world. Knowledge of the biology and science of development will eventually eradicate social ignorance and promote compassion. Everywhere.
It is already happening in the three plus years I have been working on producing this film and promoting education. I must thank Jay Hayes-Light and the board of the UK Intersex Association for the honor of accepting me as a sanctioned public speaker on the subject of intersex. Together our voices will be heard. Please share your story with us today!