Coming out as intersex...on Facebook

GLAAD is working with the intersex support and advocacy group Advocates for Informed Choice, and their youth and young adult program Inter/Act. Inter/Act hosts an online community of young people with a variety of intersex traits. To learn more about intersex traits and people, take a look at Inter/Act's Tumblr, which posts basic information, personal stories, and calls to action. One of those stories is printed below. 

One member, Amanda, recently came out to friends and family on Facebook—this time as intersex. Amanda is a 20 year old college student living in Seattle, WA. She describes herself as, “a studier of philosophy and interested in bioethics.” Diagnosed with Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (PAIS) when she was 13, Amanda recently found out that her diagnosis is a “little more gray than that.” She is, “Nerdy and bookish” and “finds great comfort in a good sweater and a nice cup of coffee.” She hopes to become “more of an advocate for the intersex community and offer support to anyone who might need it.”

When asked to reflect on her experience of coming out on Facebook Amanda reflected, “Most people know that I am intersex; it’s something that I’m very willing to share with the people who come into my life, but I’ve never addressed it online. It seemed silly that I hadn’t, but the internet is a completely different ballpark than the real world. It was difficult to make myself vulnerable, to take a secret which I had for so long kept private online and share publicly. But I am so glad I did, and I could never have expected the results. So many people gave their love and support; their words came through like a hug through my computer screen. It was such an empowering experience, and because of it I feel like I can start living a more honest and authentic life.”

If you didn’t already know, I’m gay; very, very, happily gay. Hell, at this point I’d be kind of surprised if you didn’t.  I’ve known this about myself for quite a while now, and throughout the years I have chosen to share that information with more and more people. I came out publicly on Facebook almost two years ago, and doing so not only allowed me to be more honest with myself, but also with the people in my life - you guys.

But thing is, I haven’t been totally honest with you. I’ve really only given you guys about half of the story, and it’s time I told you the rest.

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with an intersex condition. There are about thirty known intersex conditions, also called Differences of Sexual Development, and at the time I was diagnosed with one called Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. This means a few things: I was born with XY sex chromosomes and while my DNA says that I am male my body says otherwise, I react to hormones differently than the average person, and I do not have ovaries or a uterus. Yes that does mean that I do not have a period (phew), but it also means that I can’t have children. Although, in all honesty I’m kind of happy about my inner-abdominal situation. Fun fact, in January I learned that I actually didn’t have PAIS, and instead I have found myself in a sort of diagnostic limbo. I don’t know what my condition is, but believe me I am working on finding out.

I want you to know that each intersex condition is different and therefore that each intersex person is different, just like anyone else in the world. We have existed pretty much ever since people have existed, and it just goes to show that what our idea of what sex and gender are is overly simplified and incomplete.

This is me coming out as an intersex person. This is me telling you that we exist, and that our histories and struggles are real. I am still me, the same Amanda that you have always known. I haven’t changed in some drastic or unrecognizable way, only now you know a little bit more about me. I am definitely willing to answer any questions that you might have, and in fact I encourage them.

Thank you for being awesome and taking the time to read my story, it sincerely means a lot.

All the best, A.S.