#Intersex—Disclosure and Blowback

Photo courtesy James Westenbroek
Photo courtesy James Westenbroek

Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God
Thursday evening, Megan DeFranza and I spoke at Calvin College as a part of their Sexuality Series. The presentation was LiveStreamed and is available here(presentation) and here(Q&A).

Several people commented on how brave I was to share my story, but I don’t wish to mislead anyone—I’m not. Bravery involves a readiness to face danger and pain.

I doubt I’ll ever be a match for the emotional turmoil involved in talking about personal experience with intersex. Even though I never had to suffer unwanted medical interventions. If I were brave, I’d stand in front of you with my shields lowered as I disclosed my heart.

At some level, though, I can’t bear to face it all, so instead, I dissociate. I box up all the unpleasantness and let it bleed out after everyone’s gone (excepting perhaps my husband).  That’s what I hide when I’m on stage or in front of a classroom.

Therapy. Yes. If I had the time. And the money. And could place enough trust in the medical profession.

Fortunately, I have a Redeemer who loves me and doesn’t mind my curling up on his lap. I don’t have to be a mature adult for Jesus, you know. I simply have to admit my need of him.

And He’s why I seek transparency. Why I sign  up for a speaking engagement when I know the cost may be brutal. Why I risk offending both my intersex and my Christian friends. (‘Cause I know I’ll get some of the details wrong. Forget where that quote in Isaiah is.)

Secrecy—the first pillar of intersex treatment. Unfortunately, many in the Church remain unaware of the existence of those who don’t fit into their neat male-female binary.

Surgery—the second pillar. Without consent. Without full disclosure. To erase intersex.

Shame—the third pillar. Because there’s something so horrible about our bodies that we can’t even talk about them.

What chance has an intersex child against the  organized might of the medical profession and the complicity of society in general?

Christians need to help. And that doesn’t mean telling people who are different they’re going to hell. It means caring enough to put an end to the mistreatment of those born outside the binary. It means welcoming us in the open. And without shame.

Thank you, Julia Smith, Program Coordinator at Student Life and Director of the Sexuality Series at Calvin College for inviting Megan and me to speak and for watching over us during our stay.

Thank you, Elisha Marr, Assistant Professor of Sociology—and your students—for your time and polite questions.

Thank you, SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Awareness) for welcoming us to the campus. And for the cool T-shirts!

And, thank  you Calvin College, for your hospitality.





4 thoughts on “#Intersex—Disclosure and Blowback

  1. It’s said that someone, a long time ago, even when in the throes of mortal torment, said this

    “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

    Now if He can say that, even while dying in excruciating agony, then we have no excuse for returning hatred for hatred. While I deplore these horrific views, I can still see that they’re expressed by fallible humans, certainly no worse than myself.

    I’m atheist, no Christian, but there’s a lot of good moral guidance to be found in scripture. I think “love the sinner, hate the sin” comes close, but hatred of any kind is unproductive. Oppose what you think is wrong, but as Cromwell put it “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it that you might be mistaken”.

    “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
    A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, scene 2

    You have to love them anyway, for you yourself have your own errors and failings.

    I’m far too aware of the danger that Nietzche warned about.

    “Those who fight monsters should beware that they don’t become monsters themselves thereby”.

    My motto is that of W.S.Churchill
    “”Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

    The exception is important. We must love those that persecute us, lest we be destroyed by our own rage at injustice. Love is a survival skill for all Intersex people.

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