When I was born, I was declared "a girl!" and my parents took me home and cared for me as any new parents would. Before turning 1, I was subjected to chromosome testing and medical display of my genitalia at Children's Memorial Hospital. Shortly after, the doctors talked my parents into letting them remove my "gonads" (internal testes) in order to prevent "cancer". Three years later, at the age of 4, I was under anesthesia again at the same hospital. This time, Dr. Casmir Firlit was trying out a "new" and "progressive" procedure on me called a "clitoroplasty" & "clitorectomy". A clitoroplasty was explained to my parents as an advanced procedure that would reduce the size and protrusion of my "clitoris" without decreasing any of its sensitivity or ability to become aroused. This procedure claims to slice and cut away the midsection while keeping the main nerve structure intact. Surgeons then suture the glans (head) with it's ~8,000 nerve endings to the pubis. When I was 11, I was again under anesthesia at the same hospital but this time for a small procedure to "fix" my urethra and to "make a small incision that will make your vagina bigger in order to have sex with your future husband." When I came to, I immediately threw up and then spent the next 5 or so days in the hospital. During that time, doctors and interns spreading my young legs open to "take a look" became as common as the mind numbing reruns on the TV hanging above the foot of my bed.
When I was 18, and retrieved my medical records from Children's, I found out four important truths that changed the course of my life. I discovered as a baby I was labeled a male pseudo-hermaphrodite 46XY, my internal testes"not cancerous ovaries" were surgically removed, my clitoris was surgically altered when I was 4 and then ultimately completely removed at age 11 and during the same surgery I was also given a complex vaginoplasty like surgery. All of this happened, I would find out, because my genitals didn't quite fit the doctors perception of what "female" genitals should look and behave like. No medical reasons whatsoever. My body was hacked away at, put on display and medically raped because men with M.D's said so.
I went back to the hospital where all of this went down and took photos in front of the drive way leading into the entrance of the hospital that's now boarded up and scheduled for demolition. In my hands are my medical records, the voice of objectivity, responsible for so much darkness in my and many intersex people's lives that were subject to the Medical Industrial Complex here.
I often wonder if the surgeons and doctors complicit in my "care" ever considered that the "hermaphrodite" they exerted power and control over would grow up and speak out—speak back? Continuing in the legacy of early intersex activists organizing in front of Children's hospitals and medical conferences under the banner of Hermaphrodites with Attitude I went back and used the medium of photography to speak out, speak back.