Friday, October 24, 2008

"I'm 80% Girl, 20% Boy" - Intersex Documentary

One of our readers kindly emailed to let me know they were doing a documentary on an intersex person named Adele.

Maxx Ginnane (Director) emailed me with this:
"I am now making a full length film about intersex, including the stories of what is happening to the babies born visibly intersex and gender variant children as they grow up and approach puberty. There's currently still a debate in the medical community about how these young people should be treated. I'm seeking the input of doctors, parents, and of course, other intersex people in this project. If you would like to get in touch, my address is"

Below is a clip of the film and a little bit of info about the documentary:

When Adele was born they couldn't tell if she was a girl or a boy. A series of childhood genital operations 'corrected' her into a boy but as she grew up it became apparent a mistake had been made. Now at 29 Adele is trying to transition into a woman, only to find she belongs somewhere in between. 1 in 2000 babies are born like Adele and she asks if it isn't time to make room in our society for more than two genders.


Anonymous said...

I'm 51 yrs. old and also intersexed. I was born at a time/place before forced gender assignments and infant genital mutilation. I had no surgery. My parents dressed me in green and yellow and called me "Cookie" until it became plain that I was more boy than girl. Sometime in my toddlerhood I settled into identifying as a boy and have been happy all my life. However, my body is not exactly male or female and find of both. I don't have any fertility and don't have enough sex hormones to be healthy so I've taken testosterone suppliments since a teen. I never found my "ambiguous" genitals to be a barrier to sex or love. I'm exotic and exotic is sexy. I adamantly object to any genital surgery done on any intersexed child that is not absolutely medically necessary. In otherwords the child needs surgery to be able to achieve urinary continence. All surgery impairs sensativity and function as should always be an option of last resort. No one NEEDS designer genitals to be a happy man or woman. Some men have vaginas and some women have penises. That's reality. We deserve to be allowed to live in our own bodies and have sovereign control over what is and isn't done to us.

Queers United said...

tenor - thanks so much for sharing your story. perhaps you would like to contact the director of the film and share it for the documentary? i think its important to hear people speak out against genital mutilation for intersex babies.

Laurie said...

Oh what a story! I'm so happy for her...When
she started to cry I was :(


Shauna said...

You know me here, I too am intersex 89% female 11% male, I guess I am one of the lucky ones like Tenor. I too was never tampered with and thank god my mother made damn sure of that. I love this documentary, she is like me in so many ways. Life is good isn't it :)


Nicky said...

Well, as an intersex, I am weary of someone who is claiming intersex. It's because it could be some transgender who wants to claim intersex and use the intersex identity the same way bisexuals use.

I think I would have to question their status because I would be very wear about whether they are true intersex or not.

Nicky said...

You know I am a true intersex and that for someone to claim intersex and to make a video claiming intersex. I highly doubt their status and I would have to take their claim with a grain of salt. I think that this video is deceiving and that this video is not intersex because the video sounds more like transgender than intersex.

Shauna said...
I am the Illinois console for Intersex,

This may or may not be a legit film but it was interesting the same. Whether she is transgender or Intersex she is still a person. As I see it, I don't discriminate anyone.

Nicky said...

I would have to be weary when someone claims to be intersex and doesn't show the physical signs of being intersex. I have to question this person's intersex status because if this person is intersex, they would have some physical signs and as well as the medications that they are taking.

I think that this film is more about a transgender than an intersex film. It dose not have no value to the intersex community and that any intersex that claims to say it dose have a value is either a transgender or an intersex who is fooling themselves.

As i see it, this movie is about a transgender person and not about an intersex person.

Anonymous said...


Nicky's *still* denying it...

Anonymous said...

I don't see why we should disbelieve that Adele is intersex. Why would she pretend? I show no outward signs of being transgender (none that I would show to a documentary crew anyway), does this mean that people shouldn't believe that I'm trans? She was assigned a gender/sex that wasn't right for her. She's now fixing this. This is bound to happen if you start fiddleing with kid's bits. There are elements of transgender in her story, but this does not cancel out her intersex experiance.

Anonymous said...

I'm the director of this film and I really appreciate seeing your responses. Tenor and Shauna your stories are amazing, something that became really apparent to me when I was making this film is how crucial the response of the parents and doctors are to the birth of an intersex baby. Tenor your parents being so tolerant in the 1950's really blows me away. If either of you would like to get in touch with me please do ( I'm making a longer version of this film looking more at the experience of children and babies.

Nicky rest assured this film is genuine. Yes Adele is trangendering - from the gender she was wrongly assigned with at birth and after a brutal series of childhood surgery. She also took T when she was an adult. The only way of 'proving' she is intersex would be to show her genitals which A. I didn't think was necessary to tell her story B. I thought was potentially kind of exploitative and C. Adele didn't want to do.

More feedback please!

Nicky said...

Well A DNA test would be needed to prove intersex such as a DNA karyotyping and DNA karyotype would be needed to prove intersex. Someone saying their intersex, is not enough in my book, unless they can show a DNA test results from a Lab.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for this film, is it part of a longer documentary?

I totally agree that it is NOT necessary to expose your genitals or even medical records - in my eyes it is important that we share our experiences as intersex people, and we all are very different.
Adele´s story shows that the power of defining bodies still lies with the medical establishment: assigning intersex babies in one of the two genders, and forcing this with surgery, hormones and psychological treatments throughout childhood and up until adult life. For someone who was wrongly assigned as a baby to find their place and get closer to what they feel is right for them, transitioning is a legitimate possibility. Here it shows that intersex and transgender can have similarities - despite how different our realities might be in other details - my issue would be that again it is medicine who creates their own clients by assigning intersex babies into a fixed gender that later turns out to be wrong.
I hope that more of us find the courage to live as intersex people, and not to wait until society is ready: the more we begin to live as ourselves today, the faster the day of this social change will come. (((herm huggs))) i.

Anonymous said...

@nicky: I disagree strongly - because if you will always need "medical science" to certify your intersex status, we will never be able to emacipate ourselves from the medical power of defining our bodies. Medicine has played an important part in the idea of sex differentiation and what is still considered male/female and what is not. They are policing bodies because of cultural ideas of male = man : female = woman, a seperation that is unprovable even scientifically. The boundary from one sex to the other is arbitrary - therefore we do not need medical "science" to define ourselves and who and what we are. Thats how I see it anyhow.
And luckily I know I am not alone with this:

AAA said...

Nicky -- firstly, not all intersex people have unusual karyotypes. Some have perfectly normal XX or XY karyotypes, yet their genitals still developed abnormally (intersex determination is based largely on genital formation in the infant). Others are sufferers of androgen insensitivity syndrome, so you'd see no difference between an intersexed person living as a woman, an intersexed transwoman or a transwoman born bio male by examining their karyotype.

Secondly, Adele has been karyotyped -- she says in the video that she's XXY.

The Midnight Moth said...

It's true, yes. I am 46,XX/46,XY, and I should very little signs of being intersexed on the outside. That does not make me any less of an intersexed person than someone who can remove their clothing and show the difference. Like I said, there are differences- you just cannot see them because I'm not letting anyone's eyes near that part of my body. And besides- I have an ovotestis anyway- which is the clearest sign that I am IS.

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