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del lagrace volcano
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Isolated as I currently am in a frozen Swedish landscape reading this post has been an invigorating, educational experience. In my own work as an educator and artist I have had to have a word with myself, upon occasion, to mitigate my own tendency to universalize and over-valorise non-binary 'queer' gender experiences, such as my own. It was meeting and getting to know Kate in the early 90s that enabled and empowered me to enact what I call my gender ‘adjustment’. Fifteen years ago because of Kate and a few other factors I found the courage to stop hiding from my intersex-ness. For that I will be forever thankful. I will admit that I have the cushion and privilege of living in a kind of queer bubble, so I seldom have to engage with the ignorant, misinformed masses. In this world the term ‘tranny’ is used only with affection. I’m not sure how it would feel to have that term applied to me by someone who I saw as an outsider…but I can imagine I wouldn’t like it. This discussion seems to be about something much deeper than “to T or not to T” and I want to try to engage with what resonates most for me. I can see this easily becoming a battle between binary and non-binary transpeople, between cis and non cis, queer and non queer, and we all must know how unproductive it is to go there! Within intersex activism there is a constant tension between those of us for whom being intersex is an identity category we embrace and celebrate and are trying our best to gain societal validity—and those who want to leave it to the doctors to ‘fix’. As a spokesperson in Sweden for OII (Organisation Intersex International) I am an abject failure because none of very few groups that exist want to engage with me because I am way too queer. If they acknowledge being intersex at all it is as intersex ‘men’ or ‘women’ never simply intersex. My conundrum is how to respect the rights of people who are ‘technically’ intersex but wish to simply get on with their lives as ordinary men or women, (like the majority of people on the planet) AND forge a space for intersex (and trans) people who cannot or will not conform to the binary imperative. It hurts ME that I am called a DSD (Disorder of Sex Development) rather than intersex, not just by academics and clinicians, but also by others in the intersex spectrum. I am constantly perceived as a man, not an alpha male mind you, (way too short and chubby for that), and after 15 years of trying to carve a space for myself and others like me, I am quite simply sick of it. ‘Normatively’ gendered trans and intersex people seem to be in the majority (for now). There are few places in the world where queer trumps hetero-normativity. Kate Bornstein, GENDER OUTLAW, is a resistant voice in a world that insists upon compliance. We need dissenting voices. We need to speak back to our ‘icons’. Let us dry our tears and agree that disagreement is a sign of our strength as a movement.
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Nov 19, 2010