It’s Pride Month, and Intersex Visibility isn’t going anywhere!

Rae tells us about coming out as intersex before coming out as trans, and why intersex visibility needs to improve

Rae is an activist, changing the shape of intersex and ADHD visibility through real stories, humour, and a few swear words.  Meet them here 

It’s PRIDE month, and for many of the Queer Community, it’s a time of mixed emotions. From an act of protest, to a month encompassing political marches, parties, and community events. PRIDE has certainly been on a journey of its own.

The full spectrum of LGBTQIA+ community is now celebrated through acts of Rainbow Capitalism, and Social Media Content worldwide, and annual PRIDE marches around globally feature a more diverse range of representation and visibility every year.

As a Trans, Queer, Intersex, Demipansexual person, I have multiple ways to interact with the PRIDE experience. But finding my place amongst it all hasn’t been easy.

Pride History

Trans activists such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were famously part of the Stonewall riots, and today there are queer people of all sexualities and genders spanning all of Pride.

However, the CIS, gay, and lesbian narratives have long dominated the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole. Not only in terms of how we are viewed and accepted within wider society, but also, sadly, within our own community. 

It wasn’t until 2012 that the UK had its first Trans Pride in Brighton; a march specifically for the rights and visibility of transgender, non-binary, gender queer and intersex people – and it wasn’t until 2019 that London followed suit with a Trans Pride of its own.

Intersex visibility has only been present at London Pride since 2018, and the intersex flag was only added to the PRIDE flag in 2021! 

It is perhaps because of this lack of visibility and representation for intersex people, that myself, and many others like me, feel our intersex-ness to be at the forefront of what we are most proud of.

Coming out as Intersex

I myself came out as intersex before coming out as trans, non-binary, pansexual, or generally queer. I see being intersex as the very thing that made me Queer in the first place – the proverbial root of my genderbending and sexual queerness and the part of me that is most intrinsically linked to my Queer identity. As a demisexual person who goes through periods of asexuality – my gender, and my sex, have been far more prevalent catalysts for my queerness than my sexuality so far.

Not sure of the difference between gender and sex? Read this other article I wrote here on it, and then share it across your socials for me to support the mission.

In the last year at least, intersex awareness is finally growing. More often than ever, when I mention that I am intersex to both queer and heteronormative people, I am met with less instances of complete ignorance. Although by no means ubiquitous, there is often at least some recognition of the word ‘intersex’, and a vague understanding that it means ‘something like hermaphrodite’ (oof!) or ‘a third sex’.

So that appears to be where we are at! And to be honest, right now, I’ll accept it.

I’ll accept it in the same way that the gay and lesbian activists accepted those first few people taking their leaflets outside Stonewall during the days after the famous riots. With an internal wince, but with an outward smile that acknowledges ‘this is progress’. 

Because for most intersex people, the very idea that we could ever be bold enough to tell anyone what we are – let alone so brazen as to say we are PROUD of what we are – is still such a newness, as to be celebrated every time it happens.

Shame

Many of us, particularly from my generation and before, were raised in it. A secret. The very Doctor’s, carers, and institutions, that we and our families trusted, lied to us, abused us, and altered us. 

My experiences taught me to detach from my physical self and float silently outside of my life, as my body acted out the charade of binary normality the best it could. Pretending to get periods even though I don’t have ovaries. Lying to friends and partners to explain my scars. 

For me, this was the worst part of it all. The loneliness. The shame. And it was prevalent for 31 years of my life.

Intersex people are some of the most marginalised, the most misunderstood and the most erased people in modern history – but there is also so much more to us than just that. We are finally finding our way. We are finding each other! And we are finding our strength. 

Progress

Intersex activist Anick Soni was amongst the very first to bring intersex to the forefront of the Pride London March, and it took another intersex activist, Valentino Vecchietti to design the intersex-inclusive flag. Other high profile activists such as Hanne Gaby Odiele, Dani Coyle and Pidgeon have all coordinated campaigns to raise intersex visibility, during and outside of Pride Month. Mari has been creating educational intersex content that is absolutely incredible, and the list of intersex people spreading awareness and joining the fight for our rights is ever growing! 

We are beginning to hear our names and our identities on the lips of others in the Queer community, and though there may still be a lot of misunderstanding – a healthy dose of virtue signalling – and plenty of times when we are outright overlooked, we can see that there is an opportunity for us to be seen, heard, and to take up some space. To get our hands on the rope, and to pull until we raise that sparkling new flag for all to see!

Political

A lot of intersex people have been through extremely unique and traumatising experiences since birth. Often, when I open my mouth to speak about these, I realise it would take a lifetime, and I silence myself again. The overwhelm caused by these untold stories sits heavy in our hearts, on our tongues – it fills up the air between us and the people we know and love, and stops us from truly connecting. For me, it’s like I’m living behind frosted glass, and even though I’ve explained what I am, people still can’t really see. 

I know my body is being debated in political trans debates, and recently I discovered an entire movement on social media, hellbent on discrediting intersex identities, and aiming to destroy our progress, because, they claim, we’re being used by the trans community for propaganda.

Medical

I’m also being debated in medical circles, the very same medical circles that sought to erase me in the first place. When seeking help either medically for what has been done to me, or psychologically for what I have been through, it is those same medical institutions that I must go to again.

I recently received an email from a London hospital stating that my response to trauma was unacceptable and will not be tolerated, because I exhibited signs of distress whilst trying to reach a specialist psychologist that I’ve been waiting to see for over a year.

Commercial

Last week, I was supposed to be part of a Pride film shoot that wanted to include intersex representation for the first time, however, throughout the process, my inclusion felt like an afterthought. During the entire process my psychological or emotional needs were not considered. In the end, I was unable to take part. 

As Pride grows and becomes increasingly hi jacked by the machine it once rallied against, representation and visibility for intersex people can often leave us feeling like two dimensional stickers stuck to the side of a rainbow bus, as it hurtles through the city playing gay anthems and offering 20% discounts on queer merch at Primark.

Us

But deep in the belly of the beast, we’re finding our feet! We’re picking up bricks and we’re stepping into the light. We’re writing our poems and our plays, and our books, and we’re telling our stories. We are showing our Pride!

These bricks we hold may be used for smashing down the old. But they may also be used for building the new. For this, we need our whole LGBTQIA+ family. Because we all have stories that need to be told, and we all have ears that need to hear each other’s experiences. 

Our Family

The wonderful thing about that day in 1969 is that the Queer community stood together and fought for each other. I think that is the beauty of being queer, that we can show the world how we celebrate each other’s differences. How we listen to each other’s experiences. How we do the work to see each other and how our love for each other conquers all the hate that is sent our way.

We can learn from one another by reading the articles, going to the plays and performances, buying the books, dancing to the songs, watching the documentaries, not just from our own Queer niche we’ve carved out for ourselves, but by actively expanding our education, support and friendship to those in this community who are different from ourselves.

This PRIDE we should seek not only to be proud of ourselves, but to be proud of each other. To hold each other up; to hold space for and listen to one another in dark bars late at night or sunny parks in the heat of the afternoon. 

Our Pride

This PRIDE we should seek not only to be proud of ourselves, but to be proud of each other. To hold each other up; to hold space for and listen to one another in dark bars late at night or sunny parks in the heat of the afternoon. 

To do the work instead of always expecting those beneath us to do it for us.

So whether that’s learning someone’s pronouns or understanding how what someone has been through may affect their mental health and behaviours – if it’s buying that book on queer race politics or listening to that podcast interview with an intersex activist – if it’s going with your friend to a mental health or medical appointment, cooking them dinner after, or simply asking them if they need someone to talk to or support them – we will take Pride in what we are building. Together and for us all!

See you out there 💜💛🌈✌️💅

an intersex person in London holding their hand over their head

Author: Rae

Titles: Gender-bending Qwierdo, Intersex activist, ADHD Skater, Artist, Writer, Spoken Worder, and owner of a Unisex, Trans Positve, Skatewear, Streetwear clothing brand 🔥 

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