Bo Laurent, Jim Ambrose, and Pidgeon Pagonis have set out to represent and advocate for those with intersex traits and differences of sex development, DSD, and to help them understand their own worth in this world. They want visibility and justice for a community that has been marginalized and misunderstood for so long.
"It's hard for people to wrap their head around what exactly is going on. It gets everywhere -- it's nothing but sprawl. It's not limited to the bedroom," says Ambrose, a writer and the co-founder of The Interface Project, a site that collects and shares personal stories of people living with an intersex condition or DSD.
So let's start in the classroom with a quick lesson on what intersex is not: transgender, though the two are often erroneously lumped together or the "hermaphrodite" of lore and porn, possessed of fully functioning (and physically impossible) male and female genitalia.
The discovery of her [Bo] intersex status finally offered a path into the world. Over the course of the past two decades, with her work as an activist, speaker and founder of the now-defunct Intersex Society of North America, Laurent has led others on a journey to connect body and soul -- their own and others'.
"One of the things I'm proud of is that I think that I've helped to provide frameworks to talk about it, narratives that are now available to other people," Laurent says.
"I let the shame of having a different body and not looking 'normal,' debilitate me," Pagonis says. "I needed that permission and Bo gave it to me."
Pagonis is now working as Advocates for Informed Choice's youth leadership coordinator and as a teen dating violence prevention coordinator. They believe that doctors' and parents' lack of disclosure to intersexed children is just as harmful as the cosmetic surgery which conceals the physical differences.
They hope that speaking out for their community will then evolve into people being more honest and talking about their bodies to then make healthier and safer choices.