While it occasionally makes an appearance in the ever-evolving acronym that typically begins LGBTQ, the "I" for intersex may be the most misunderstood letter of the bunch. From the medical community's disheartening stance to society's warped views on gender roles, there's an important discussion that needs to be had about those born with both male and female sex organs. And Claudia Astorino is fired up to get it started.
The 26-year-old New York student/activist will stop in Philly this week on her self-motivated tour to raise intersex awareness in the tri-state area. Her open floor discussion will revolve around the basics of intersex before segueing into what she believes is the medical community's problematic approach to the subject — which often involves surgically altering a too-young-to-consent intersex person so they can fit the stereotypical male/female mold.
"We are taught that bodies have to fit in one of two flavors," she says, "but there's a lot of variations out there that we don't account for." Her distaste for this type of mind-set stems from being encouraged early on by doctors to keep quiet about her "condition" in order to appear normal. But in her mission to educate she wants people to understand that intersex is indeed a normal, biological way of being and that no one should be forced to fit into one of two rigid categories to satisfy society.
"Fixing [intersex bodies] by assigning male or female sex may come from a place of good intention, but good intentions don't result in good decisions," she says. "People should have consent over what's done to their bodies — anything else is a human rights violation."
Thu., Dec. 16, 7-9 p.m., free, Wooden Shoe Books, 704 South St., 215-413-0999, fullfrontalactivism.blogspot.com.