CXY Courtney My Inersex Story
This is my coming out video originally aired July 16, 2020.
Hi I’m Courtney, your typical ex-mormon lesbian who happens to be intersex! Well, maybe not exactly typical.
From the beginning of time we have bucketed humans, animals, and even plants into male and female. The binary distinctions in schools, media, fashion, technology, sports, government, and history shape us profoundly. But my intersex body beautifully blows that all up.
You may have heard the term before or seen the I in the acronym LGBTQIA, but do you really know what it means?
Intersex persons are born with sex traits that don’t fit the standard male and female. We have some characteristics of both. These variations can involve genitalia, chromosomes, sex organs, hormone production and response, and secondary sex characteristics such as body hair and breast development. To put it simply, we are neither male nor female. We are a hybrid of genders dotted along the beautiful sex spectrum.
I was born with androgen insensitivity or AIS and appearing female. But upon closer inspection they found my balls, vag, and clit. A team of doctors was assembled like Ron Burgundy’s news team and they found through tests that I am XY. For those of you who don’t remember basic biology, that’s male. Additionally my body produces a very low amount of testosterone and no estrogen.
This came as a shock to both my family and medical professionals. In the weeks following my birth I was deemed female by a doctor, underwent non-consensual surgery to “normalize” my genitalia, and my family was left to face the heartache and confusion surrounding their newborn.
The shortcomings of the medical community’s treatment of intersex persons hit again when I began hormone replacement therapy as a teenager (a treatment that likely would be unnecessary if my body had not been sliced and diced as an infant). One small problem! They got the prescription wrong. Instead of puberty, I hit menopause as a preteen (hot flashes and all) and the dose of estrogen wasn’t corrected until earlier this year at the age of 28.
Roughly 2% of the population is intersex, similar odds to someone being born with red hair to put it in perspective.
Growing up I was told that my androgen insensitivity was not to be shared or discussed, except with close family. Basically my mom and dad. I grew up in a world where media and even friends would make jokes and jabs about intersex traits. Because of this climate, I felt marginalized, misunderstood, and alone. I felt crippling shame and secrecy as I lied about getting my period and wondered if my body was “normal”.
But in recent years I have done excruciating work to love myself. In communicating with people near to me, pouring over resources on the internet, and connecting with online support groups I have found that I am not alone, I am valued, and most importantly that I am me because I am intersex. Being intersex isn’t something that has happened to me, it’s not my plight or burden, it’s who I am.
Over the past few years I have challenged the Mormon church on the topic of intersex traits. During a meeting with a regional leader they asked me “what have you been denied as an intersex person?” After getting into the lack of government and societal representation and the mistreatment from the medical community I paused.
“The most important thing I have been robbed of as an intersex person is my identity. My core sense of self. I was pushed and prodded and contorted to fit into the female definition for 27 years. Think about that for a second. Imagine what it must feel like to have to hide your whole life, feeling truly alone and like a freak.” <
Coincidently the church, which formerly hadn’t spoken a lick about us, suddenly has a position on the matter! My words had reached the leaders in Salt Lake City, Utah. In response to my inquiry the right hand man to the prophet instructed local leaders to read to me their position before including a section in the general handbook of instruction! They spoke of compassion and wisdom regarding intersex traits, but their words were ultimately dismissive and inaccurate.
My personal call to action is leading me to return to school to study public health through the intersex lens, be vocal in my communities, and work to educate myself on how I can make things better for the next generation of intersex youth.
We have a right to body autonomy, self determination, consensual surgeries, adequate healthcare, media representation, community, education, support, allies, government recognition, laws that protect our bodies, and most importantly some high quality self love.
These needs can be defined into three major categories for the progress of the intersex community.
- Body autonomy and adequate healthcare practices
- Government recognition and protection
- Visibility, community, and education
I’ll never fit into the male and female boxes our society has constructed and I could give a rats ass! I am intersex, my body is beautiful, and I am INDOMITABLE!.