Viloria, Hida. “Born Both: An Intersex Life”, Hachette Books, 2016.
Gender Identity, Self-Acceptance and Love
Hida Viloria was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that her body looked different. Her home was a place of turbulence when she was a kid and she often was scared and alone especially when she recognized that she was attracted to other girls. endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. Unlike most people in the world who are born intersex (having “genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female”), her parents, unlike others , did not have her sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.
It was not until she was twenty-six-years-old that she came across the term “intersex” and was able to understand that her differences actually had a name. It was then that she began exploring what it means to live in the space between genders–to be both and neither. She tried living as a feminine woman, as an androgynous person, and even for a short period as a man. Her gender fluidity was exciting but it was also isolating.
When she finally found an intersex community to connect with she was shocked and it was upsetting to meet people who were to learn that most of the both physically and psychologically scarred. Many had had surgeries as infants and hormone treatments to “correct” their bodies. She understood that because intersex people have no visibility in he larger society, these practices were used. She decided that she would come out as intersex at a national and then international level. This is Hida’s story of finding her identity and love as she fought for human rights and equality for intersex people.
This is a well-written and important book about a condition most of us know very little about. Today it is spoken about openly but this is new and has only happened in the recent past. Hida helps us to understand what intersex is and shares the issues that intersex people face. We see “what it means to live not just as both a man and a woman but also as a third gender that eventually emerges as the right one.” While this book is about one intersex person’s journey, it also affirms the right that all those who do not fit into the gender binary need to dignity and respect from others.