Thursday, April 23, 2009
The University of Maine Guest Speaker: Vickie Boisseau
Not everything is black and white - some things are speckled. That was the overall message presented this past Thursday as the Wilde Stein Alliance for Sexual Diversity hosted speaker Vickie Boisseau at Intersex 101. While the topic is something uncommon to most people, Boisseau began by discussing and defining the topic.
"Intersex is not about being gay, bisexual or transgendered," she said. "Intersex is a medical condition that prevails in one out of every 2,000 babies."
What exactly makes someone intersex? The topic is difficult to explain without leading the audience to falsely envision a transgendered person. Boisseau, an intersex individual herself, explained she never wanted to translate her gender into female, namely because intersex individuals don't have to.
A intersex child is one that is born with both male and female characteristics. Besides the external combination of physical attributes, the child also has a makeup of hormones unlike those children with a specific gender.
Boisseau's condition grants her many male attributes, like an adam's apple, a v-shaped figure and a penis. But she also possess strong womanly characteristics, such as soft skin, limited hair on her body and a vagina. Some might claim she is a hermaphrodite, which is in a way true, but it is not an accurate indicator of her situation, she said.
"Hermaphrodites don't have qualities as mixed together as intersex kids. Typically there is a dominant hormone in hermaphrodites. In intersex, it is difficult to pinpoint" Boisseau said.
The audience listened as Boisseau recounted growing up with the condition. Her parents decided to raise her as a boy, forbidding her to even touch dolls or look at the color pink. But as she grew up, she felt strong female reactions in puberty - namely menstrual cramps, breast development and a high pitched voice.
Her parents began to realize the change in their child and immediately sent her to the doctor, where she was given hormone injections and pills to be taken daily. The only affect of such treatment was a deepened voice and near-death sickness.
at 5:58 AM