Today marks Inter/Act’s 3rd Anniversary on Tumblr ::woot!:: To celebrate, Inter/Act member Karly (who sometimes goes by ‘mermaid’) wanted to share her thoughts on labels… especially the intersex and DSD (difference of sex development) ones…
What is positive and empowering to one person can feel negative or derogatory to someone else. In intersex conditions/DSD, unfamiliar and potentially hurtful words are everywhere. People can read words like “pseudohermaphrodite,” “testicular feminization, “true hermaphrodite” and other words that are unfamiliar like “intersex” in medical records and medical articles. These words seem shocking to some people and are even considered by experts as out-dated. After all, “hermaphrodite” comes from the name of a mythical creature. While it may apply to animals who are able to reproduce by themselves, it isn’t scientifically accurate to use it to refer to people with intersex conditions or a DSD.
However, the term “intersex” feels upsetting to some people too. Other times, like for me, I feel like intersex describes who I am. When I reference myself and my condition as “intersex”, I don’t feel average or regular, I feel extraordinary— special and unique!
But it’s not the label alone that has helped me accept and understand my body. Organizations like Inter/Act and the AIS-DSD Support Group have connected me with others and helped me feel that I am just me—and that’s more than okay to be! With support, I know that I deserve love, and it is wonderful to share my difference as an intersex person with the world.
Sometimes, I feel sad when I see people giving words and labels power over us. I want everyone to know, if you feel a word does not represent who you are, you don’t need to use it. You can share your difference however you are most comfortable sharing it. Talk about yourself in a way that feels true to who you are and what your intersex condition/DSD means to you.
Also, remember the power of humor! Sometimes, it can feel good to laugh about your body, your difference, and your experience with friends who understand you and your difference.
Life is a journey, and remember that only you have the power to write your story! Don’t let labels or words hold you back. Find ways of talking about your DSD that feels right for you, because life is too precious to spend time dwelling on labels that don’t fit. Call yourself intersex… Or say you have a DSD… Or say you have a difference that caused your body to grow differently. Or say each of them—whenever it feels right to you. Whatever you say, remember that only you can decide what your DSD means and how you share it with others.
You’ve got the power!