Update on M.C.’s Case – The Road to Justice can be Long, but there is more than one path for M.C.

We received disappointing news Monday that the Fourth Circuit has overturned the district court’s ruling in the case of M.C. vs. Aaronson. This means they will not allow the federal case to go to trial. However, the ruling does not affect the companion case of M.C. vs. Medical University of South Carolina, which was brought in state court, and we will continue to push forward aggressively on those claims.   What the ruling means:   The Fourth Circuit concluded that the defendants in our federal case cannot be held liable under federal law because the law in that jurisdiction in 2006 did not give them sufficient notice that performing medically unnecessary sex-assignment surgery on a sixteen-month old child could violate the child’s constitutional rights. Because the law in 2006 was not clearly established in South Carolina, the court found defendants had “qualified immunity” from suit, even if they had violated M.C.’s constitutional rights. The court declined to rule on whether MC’s surgery was a violation of his constitutional rights.   What the ruling does not mean:   It does not mean that the state actors who performed this surgery on M.C. had a right to do so, or that future … Continue reading

Kenya Now a Leader in Protection of Intersex Rights

AIC is delighted to announce that on Dec. 5, 2014, thanks to the hard work of attorney John Chigiti and his team, Kenya took a significant step in recognizing intersex human rights. Colleague and Kenyan attorney, John Chigiti, won a case concerning the issuance of a birth certificate to an intersex born child, “Baby A.” Mr. Chigiti and AIC legal director, Anne Tamar-Mattis, have collaborated and supported one another in their similar work (taking place in two different continents) on legal cases involving the rights of intersex children. Kenya’s “law did not contemplate the existence of these category of people. The constitution nonetheless has come to the aid of such children. It is now possible for them to acquire the much needed statutory documents like birth certificates (Chigiti 2014).”   Case Highlights: Officials didn’t know how to accurately describe the sex of Baby A. when they were born. Baby A. was not given a sex marker on their identity documents. Chigiti represented Baby A. and their family in a Kenyan court case. The court declared that every Kenyan has a human right to have identity documents and gender markers on those documents. The court acknowledged that they weren’t able to mandate a new … Continue reading

AIC Guest Blog | Kitty Anderson, Intersex Iceland

Yesterday was Intersex Awareness Day. AIC teamed up with Kitty Anderson, Chair of Intersex Iceland, to create a post in which Kitty shares their story of how a small group of people can change the world!   Before Intersex Iceland, little else was known besides that one surgery a year was performed to determine an intersex child’s sex in Iceland. These issues were rarely, if ever, discussed from a human rights perspective. Icelandic doctors treated people’s fundamental rights to self-determination and choice as preposterous–even going so far as to claim that not performing these non-consensual surgeries was akin to dangerous experimentation with intersex children´s lives. Like elsewhere in the world, we heard the same excuses for these surgeries: to relieve familial distress, prevent stigmatization and ensure that the child would identify with the correct gender. We should always be extremely wary of any medical professional that uses this last reason, taken partly from Dr. John Money’s theory that one’s gender has zero to do with their nature, when making decisions for intersex children.   A small group of activists in Iceland decided to act and we organized to address these issues within our society. We were shocked that intersex issues … Continue reading

Turning the Lens Inward: Sean Saifa Wall

AIC’s Blog Series, “Turning the Lens Inward,” features interviews with some of the key leaders and supporters who have helped make AIC the strong organization we are today! The third installment comes from AIC’s Board President, Sean Saifa Wall, and gives readers a glimpse of what Saifa believes are some of the intersex communities biggest challenges and what he views have been some of its biggest successes.   As one of many people living with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), I was assigned female at birth. For most of my life, I lived as a masculine of center woman until I decided to transition to male at the age of 24 when I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. I had not met another guy with AIS until I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where I met Jim Ambrose. Prior to meeting Jim, the transition from female to male was a lonely one. I had no one to talk to about testosterone therapy and dosing except for Tony Briffa, another intersex activist living in Australia, who was undergoing a different form of testosterone replacement therapy. We connected instantly.   Through shifting life circumstance, Jimmy and I lost touch … Continue reading

M.C. Case Update – 4th Circuit Hearing

AIC’s Legal Director Anne Tamar-Mattis headed into the courtroom in the 4th Circuit last Wednesday for a hearing in the MC case, along with co-counsel Kristi Graunke from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Raisa Michalek and John Lovi from Steptoe & Johnson. A ruling is expected in the coming months.   Looking for more info on this important case? Go here!  

AIC plays a role this season in MTV’s new hit show, Faking it!

  About a year ago I was contacted about a new show set to premiere that was invested  in writing an intersex plot line about one of it’s main characters. I was skeptical, to say the least, that this was just another sensationalist trivialization of intersex people’s experiences. Feeling a large responsibility to represent and defend my intersex community, I cautiously agreed. Soon after, I found myself on the phone with the show’s Executive Producer, Carter Covington, and about a half dozen writers for MTV’s then brand new show Faking It. It became readily apparent that Covington was the real deal.  He spoke about the premise for the show and his commitment to conveying positive messages for LGBT youth. He and his writers wanted to make one of Faking It’s main high school characters come out as intersex in season two. They aimed to portray her experience accurately and respectfully with hopes of making a difference for some young MTV viewers born intersex who may be feeling isolated. I knew this was a perfect project for Inter/Act, AIC’s intersex youth advocacy program. In fact, one of our members just described in a blog post their own experience about coming out … Continue reading

Turning the Lens Inward: Kimberly Zieselman (or, “the boss”)

AIC’s Blog Series, “Turning the Lens Inward,” features interviews with some of the key leaders and supporters who have helped make AIC the strong organization we are today! The second installment comes from AIC’s new Executive Director, Kimberly Zieselman. —— At the end of my first day as AIC’s executive director a friend playfully asked me how it felt to be “the boss.” I thought about our small staff of exceptional people, how all three of us (scattered about the U.S.) support each other selflessly, and how from the beginning I knew I had an opportunity to be a part of something great. I smiled, “It feels like I’ve been given a gift.” With that said, if I’d been told five years ago I’d be in the position I am with AIC I would not have believed them. I first learned about Advocates for Informed Choice when I heard Anne Tamar-Mattis give a short talk on legal issues at the 2010 AIS-DSD Support Group conference. Anne’s simple, direct, and reasonable mission of informed consent and education stayed with me over the years and I began to follow AIC’s work with interest. It wasn’t long before Anne and I became friends … Continue reading

Turning the Lens Inward: Meg

AIC is proud to share the second in a series of interviews with key leaders and supporters who have helped make AIC the strong organization we are today! Meg, one of our key supporters, shares part of her journey as the next story in AIC’s series, Turning the Lens Inward.   I first heard about AIC when I met Anne Tamar-Mattis in 2007. She told me about her thoughts on how direct legal strategy could be employed to successfully protect kids born with variations of sex anatomy. I remember walking away inspired by the potential for this approach, and determined to help AIC grow. My wife and I knew both of our children were born with intersex conditions before we adopted them. Our son was assigned female close to his birth and, as it happened, very little time passed before he made it clear to us that he is a boy. AIC helped us secure local legal counsel, and they were there as we developed our own approach to convince a judge to agree to amend our son’s legal documents. AIC’s skill and experience gave us confidence through this process, and made it possible for our son to avoid the … Continue reading

AIC Announces E.D. Transition & Staff Changes

AIC has an exciting announcement! Anne Tamar-Mattis will begin working full time as AIC’s Legal Director, and Kimberly Zieselman will be stepping up to the position of Executive Director on September 1, 2014.Please read letters from both Anne and Kimberly below: Dear friends, I’m going to tell you a secret:  I never really wanted to be an Executive Director.  I went to law school because I wanted to practice law, and by the end of law school I knew that defending the rights of children with intersex traits or differences of sex development would be an important part of my career.  I founded AIC and became its Executive Director because there simply was no other organization that had the capacity to do that work.  While I have been both humbled and honored to have the opportunity to work in service to this community, there is much in the job of E.D. that is not about practicing law.  That is what I love to do, and I have often wished that I could devote more of my time to lawyering on behalf of the community. Now, I have that opportunity.  For the last year, I have been working closely with Kimberly … Continue reading

“Love is the Best Medicine”: Why I am Proud of my Intersex Family

Earlier this month (6/1/14) Arlene Baratz, AIC Board member, spoke at Sunnyhill Unitarian Universalist Church (Pittsburgh, PA) and gave an inspiring speech raising intersex awareness in honor of Pride month. Read to uncover Arlene’s personal journey with intersex as she describes what it was like to complete medical school and the surprise she had when her daughter turned six. I’m honored to be here as we kick off Pride Week, celebrating the diversity of sexuality and gender in our community. This has been an exciting year for LGBT rights, with the Supreme Court declaring the DOMA unconstitutional last June, the US Census Bureau recognizing married LGBT couples as families, and our own governor allowing marriage equality to stand in PA. This was hard to imagine in 2008 when California passed Proposition 8 restricting marriage to “one-man-one-woman.” It looks like we will all finally have the legal right to marry and create families with whomever we love.  And equal heath care is on the horizon too. After an investigation showing that LGBT people’s health is worse than it should be, our government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded a huge new research project to find out why this is so and … Continue reading