Hida Viloria is a Latinx, gender fluid, intersex activist, writer and and author of the memoir Born Both: An Intersex Life (March 2017, by Hatchette Book Group). Hida has a degree in Gender and Sexuality from the University of California at Berkeley, and has been educating people about intersex and non-binary issues since 1996, as a frequent lecturer, consultant (UN, Human Rights Watch, IOC) television and radio guest (HuffpostLive, Aljazeera, Oprah, 20/20, BBC, Inside Edition…), and in film (Gendernauts, One in 2000, Intersexion). Viloria is Chairperson of the Organization Intersex International (OII), and Founder and Executive Director of its U.S. affiliate, the Intersex Campaign for Equality, a.k.a. OII-USA. S/he has written about intersex issues in The Advocate, Ms., The New York Times, The American Journal of Bioethics, CNN.com, and others, in her blog Intersex and Out, and in the Oxford University Press college curriculum textbook, Queer: A Reader for Writers (2016).
Viloria has also been a pioneer of what is today known as “non-binary” gender identity, speaking in 1999’s Gendernauts about living in the middle space between male and female genders, and stating on Oprah in 2007 that s/he is “both”, and that non-binary people shouldn’t be forced to choose between being men or women.
In 2010, after garnering international support for South African track star Caster Semenya, who was banned from competition on suspicion of being intersex, Viloria served, by invitation, as the sole intersex representative at the International Olympic Committee’s meeting of experts in Lausanne, Switzerland. S/he successfully argued against the pathologization of intersex people through the use of the stigmatizing label Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) and joined in the multiple voices lobbying for the full inclusion of intersex female athletes– without mandatory, medically unnecessary “feminizing treatments”–in competitive sport.
On Human Rights Day, 2012, s/he spearheaded the the first global demand for human rights by and for intersex people, as author of an open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It was signed by over 30 international intersex organizations, constituting almost every intersex organization in the world at the time.
In 2013, Viloria created the resource Your Beautiful Child: Information for Parents, a one of a kind resource for parents of intersex infants which uses positive, non-stigmatizing language, and was selected and served as one of three intersex co-organizers of the Third International Intersex Forum, in Malta. The event culminated with the creation of the Public Statement of the Third International Intersex Forum, a.k.a the Malta Declaration, a consensus statement of human rights demands by the intersex community.
On Human Rights Day 2013, December 10th, Hida’s pioneering human rights advocacy work was recognized with the honor of becoming the first openly intersex person to speak, by invitation, at the United Nations, for the event Sports Comes Out Against Homophobia with fellow “out” pioneers Martina Navratilova and Jason Collins.
Throughout 2014-2016, Viloria continued to educate and advocate for intersex and non-binary people as a writer, lecturer and consultant. S/he was published widely online and in the books The Human Agenda: Conversations about Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity and the college freshman curriculum textbook Queer: A Reader for Writers, by Oxford University Press, and appeared in videos for Gender Talents, a web-based project that engages movements and discourses for gender self-determination within trans and intersex communities, and for the UN Free & Equal Campaign, in the video “What Does It Mean To Be Intersex?”
Viloria consulted the UN Free & Equal Campaign on their groundbreaking publication the Intersex Fact Sheet, and educated Lambda Legal, the nations oldest, largest LGBT+ legal civil rights organization, on their victorious, historic lawsuit for federal gender recognition of a non-binary person on their passport. S/he was also featured in the U.N.’s Intersex Awareness Day 2016 Campaign.
Hida holds a degree in Gender and Sexuality with high honors and high distinction from the University of California at Berkeley, and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with he/r partner and stepson.
We heard about this so late we just got a chance to write this up which is too bad because we’re very interested in this appearance by Latinx and Intersex author/activist HIDA VILORIA to promote s/her book BORN BOTH: AN INTERSEX LIFE. The author (who uses s/he and he/r pronouns (pronounced she/her) will be at Elliot Bay Book Company (1521 10th Ave on Capitol Hill) this evening, Friday, March 31, 2017 between 7 pm and 9 pm to promote he/r book, recently published by Hachette to great acclaim. More about the book:
Hida Viloria was raised as a girl but discovered early on that he/r body was different. Unlike most people who are born intersex in the first world–meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female–Hida had the freedom to explore the person s/he was born to be because he/r parents did not agree to have he/r sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.
It wasn’t until s/he was 26 and encountered the term “intersex” in a San Francisco newspaper that s/he finally had a name for he/r difference. That’s when s/he began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders–to be both and neither. As s/he began to reach out to others like he/r, however, Hida discovered that most intersex people had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments meant to “correct” their bodies. Eager to help end this practice, Hida came out as intersex at a national and then international level.
By answering the question “Are you a boy or a girl?” with “I’m both,” Hida’s helped blaze a trail for people–particularly intersex and genderqueer/non-binary people–to celebrate the middle space where male and female are not separate and opposite but entwined. Born Both is an intimate and powerful account of Hida’s search for authentic identity and love in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or.
More on Hida Viloria: