Name: Pidgeon Pagonis (they/them)
Who they are: Intersex American activist, writer, and artist
How they have contributed: Pagonis is on the forefront of the conversation about intersexuality and the opposition to nonconsensual intersex medical intervention. Soon after discovering they were intersex, Pagonis began advocating and educating others on intersex identity and the issues facing those in the community through their YouTube videos and documentary, A Normal Girl.
Pagonis has been honored by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change in 2015, and more recently was featured on the cover of National Geographic‘s “Gender Revolution” special issue.
Why we’re proud: With the growing awareness and acceptance of the true spectrum of gender, the conversation around intersex individuals has grown as well.
Being intersex defines someone’s sex, not their gender, though the vast majority of people still don’t know the difference. Sex is determined by your physical anatomy and sex chromosomes; gender is how you identify, experience and define yourself based on what you understand your gender to be. Intersex people are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies.
This is where Pidgeon Pagonis steps in. Pagonis has spent the past few years spreading the word on what it means to be intersex. They run a YouTube account where they share their own story and help to dispel many common misconceptions that exist about intersexuality.
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They also advocate against doctors performing surgeries on intersex babies and minors for conditions that are not life-threatening because often the families and the children involved are not aware of what the procedures actually are for. Pagonis’s own experience with nonconsensual medical intervention is the focus of their new documentary, A Normal Girl.
Speaking more about this violation in a piece written for Everyday Feminism, Pagonis writes:
In 1991, when I was four years old, you wrote in my medical records that I “underwent a clitoral resection and recession without difficulty.”
The procedure was supposed to reduce, not completely remove, my clitoris – so I foolishly held on to hope that a remnant existed, and I would find and learn how to enjoy it. That day has yet to come.
After National Geographic‘s “Gender Revolution” special issue was released with intersex defined as a disorder, Pagonis, who is pictured on the cover with other gender and LGBTQ advocates, spoke out: “Please let National Geographic know that intersex people do not have “*disorders* of sex development”, but instead are people with sex traits that don’t fall neatly into binary definitions of either male or female,” they wrote on Facebook about the issue. National Geographic eventually apologized and corrected the definition in the online issue.
Their willingness to engage so publicly and with such eloquence makes us proud to stand with them.
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