The United States affiliate of the Organization Intersex International (OII)

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Who We Are

STAFF

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Hida Viloria

Founder and Executive Director

Hida (pronounced “Heeda”) Viloria is a queer Latinx intersex activist, writer, and author of the upcoming memoir Born Both: An Intersex Life (Hatchette Books, March 14, 2017), and you can see he/r bibliography here. Viloria uses “s/he” and “he/r” pronouns to acknowledge he/r identity as an intersex, gender fluid feminist with a female history.

Viloria is Chairperson of the global intersex organization OII (the Organisation Intersex International), and Founder and Executive Director of its American affiliate, the Intersex Campaign for Equality (ICE), aka OII-USA. S/he was born with genital variance in New York City, the first generation child of Venezuelan and Colombian immigrant parents who respected her right to bodily autonomy by registering and raising he/r as a girl without subjecting he/r to “normalizing” infant genital surgeries, a.k.a. Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM).

Viloria has a degree with high honors in Gender and Sexuality from U.C. Berkeley, and is dedicated to creating cultural visibility, acceptance, and equality for intersex people. S/he has educated extensively about intersex issues as a lecturer, consultant (International Olympics Committee, United Nations OHCHR, Human Rights Watch, and Lambda Legal), writer (The Advocate, Autostraddle, Ms., The American Journal of Bioethics, CNN.com,The Global Herald…), television and radio guest (Oprah, HuffPostLiveAljazeera,“20/20,” BBC…), and in film (Hermaphrodites Speak, One in 2000 and Intersexion). In addition, Hida is gender fluid, and has spoken about non-binary gender, as well as intersex, in numerous venues such as the award winning documentary Gendernauts: A Journey Through Shifting Identities (1999).

Watch a short compilation video of some of Hida’s best media interviews here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJy530A-_0E

Hida is author of the groundbreaking intersex resource Your Beautiful Child: Information for Parents (2013), and has been a keynote speaker and presenter at numerous conferences, including the Genital Autonomy 13th Annual Conference in Boulder, Colorado (2014), the 10th Annual Conference on Women, Technology and Gender, in Madrid (2015), and the Intersex Solidarity Day Conference in Vienna (2015). S/he also continues to be a leading intersex voice in publishing, appearing in The Human Agenda: Conversations about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (2015), and in 2016, h/er essay “What’s in a Name: Intersex and Identity” was published in the college curriculum textbook, Queer: A Reader for Writers, by Oxford University Press.

Lobbying:

In October 2010, Viloria served, by invitation, as the sole intersex representative at the International Olympic Committee‘s meeting of experts on intersex athletes in competitive sports, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where s/he lobbied that regulations for intersex female athletes were scientifically unfounded and discriminatory against women with masculine o intersex gender expressions. In December, 2011, Viloria contacted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to request inclusion of intersex people in human rights protocols and protections, receiving a response from the U.S. Department of State (in early 2012).

In December 2012, Hida spearheaded the first global call for human rights for intersex people at the International Intersex Forum (the world’s only global gathering of leading intersex activists) in Stockholm, authoring, delivering and publishing the Open Letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, with over 30 international intersex advocacy organizations and community leaders signing in support. In November, 2013, s/he was selected and served as the only American of three intersex organizers of the 3rd International Intersex Forum, resulting in the publication of a list of demands by the global intersex community. In December of the same year, Viloria became the first openly intersex person to speak at the United Nations, by invitation, with fellow “out” pioneers Martina Navratilova, Jason Collins and others, for the Human Rights Day event Sport Comes Out Against HomophobiaIn September 2015, the UN’s Free & Equal Campaign for Equality recognized Viloria’s contributions to the production of their groundbreaking Intersex Fact Sheet resource with a video featuring Viloria in which s/he discusses the fact that the vast majority of intersex people are still not “out” as intersex.

 

 

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Dana Zzyym

Associate Director

Dana Zzyym is a disabled Navy Veteran (3 tours Beirut Lebanon), and intersex human rights activist who uses the gender neutral “they”, “them” and “their” pronouns. On Intersex Awareness Day, October 26th, 2015, Dana Zzyym announced, with Lambda Legal –– the nation’s oldest, largest, LGBTI civil rights organization — as their legal representative, that they are suing the United States State Department for denying them a passport that accurately identifies their sex/gender as neither male nor female (we not the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably in law, and that both Dana’s sex and gender are non-binary). We are extremely grateful to Dana for initiating this historic U.S. lawsuit, and fighting for intersex people to be legally recognized in the United States.

Zzyym was subjected to Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM) at the age of 5 and 6, and says, “I was fine until I got cut, that’s when I became disordered…”. Since deciding to live openly as an intersex person, Zzyym has participated in over 75 panel discussions on the topic of intersex, and held Intersex Awareness Day (October 26th) events at Colorado State University in 2009 and 2011. In addition, Dana hosted an Intersex Support group in Fort Collins CO. with the Lambda C.C. and Center for Northern CO. In 2012, Zzyym represented OII-USA and intersex people and issues, at the White House LGBT Health Conference in Philadelphia, where they held an Intersex 101 presentation and Q&A. They also discussed the need for intersex representation, protections, and equal rights with representative of the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Health and Human Services Department. Most recently, Dana participated in the Genital Autonomy 2014 Symposium in Boulder CO, and they will be volunteering for the Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change Conference in Denver, CO, in February, 2015. Dana has a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Colorado State University and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Contact Dana at: dzzyym@msn.com

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Dr. Dani Lee Harris

Southeast Regional Representative

Dr. Dani Lee Harris was born on March 28, 1973, in the Bronx, New York, and raised, with four siblings, by a single mother in the impoverished Johnson Projects in Harlem NY. Dani did not undergo IGM (Intersex Genital Mutilation) as a child, and was unaware that they are intersex. They excelled in school, making it an escape from the harsh surroundings of everyday life growing up on welfare. Dani learned early on that life can be cruel, facing alcoholism, physical abuse and anger on a daily basis. Later, after having watched their own father slice their mother’s neck, Dani dealt with constant adversity being shuffled through the foster care system before being reunited, at the age of 15, with their mother and siblings under the same roof. Fighting anger, resentment and depression, Dani moved out of their mother’s home at the age of 16. At the age of 17, during their last year of high school, Dani’s mother passed away from Lupus after being diagnosed with AIDS, and Dani and their older sister decided to raise the younger siblings and shed them from further foster care living. At the age of 24, Dani almost became a statistic after being shot in the face at point blank range. The shooting pushed Dani to a life-time low, but Dani made a turnaround, bouncing back from the despair to join the law enforcement community and become a productive citizen.

Dani obtained an associate’s degree in 2002, and after taking a five year break in education, returned to school to obtain Bachelors of Science, Masters of Human Resource Management, and Doctorate of Business Administration degrees. In 2008, Dani discovered that they are Intersex. This was liberating for Dani, as it enabled all the missing pieces in their life to “fit”. The discovery led to local news reports and presentations.
Dani found passion in motivating and encouraging others, and has been invited to speak on LGBTI issues at local law enforcement agencies, universities and churches. Dani’s work in the Black Southern Baptist community has led to greater acceptance of the entire LGBTI population. As they stared in a interview, Dani’s had deep conversations with pastors struggling with the idea of homosexuality, who when they learn that Dani is intersex — a biological condition — consider that perhaps sexual orientation and gender identity are also biological, which facilitates their acceptance of LGBT, as well as “I” (Intersex), people.

Facing adversity as a member of multiple minority communities, Dani lives to show others how to find inner peace in the midst of personal storms, and how to find their personal passion and serve others in order to live a complete and fulfilled life. By never giving up, but rather turning life trials into testimonies about hope, determination, and self-belief, Dani found a gift in motivating people to look at life from a different perspective than the one that is handed to them. Dani’s motto, “Life is truly what you make it,” has given them the courage to face tribulations and strife and turn them into victorious moments of life. For example, in 2009, Dani was honored as Grand Marshall of Atlanta’s Pride Parade, becoming the first openly intersex person to lead a Pride Parade, and in 2010, Dani’s inspiringly proud intersex perspective was included in the award-winning documentary, “Intersexion”. Dani recently published their timely book, Knowledge is Power: What everyone should know about the Police! (available at www.drdanileeharris.org), and continues educating on multiple topics and advocating for human rights and acceptance of LGBTI communities.

 

Vickie Boisseau

New England Regional Director

Bio coming shortly.

Former Staff

Claudia Astorino

Associate Director, February 2011 – February 17, 2015

Claudia Astorino is an intersex activist living in NYC. She writes the blog Full-Frontal Activism: Intersex and Awesome and is the co-coordinator of the annual Intersex Awareness Day events in NYC, celebrating its 3nd year in 2012! She has raised awareness speaking at New York University, Bluestockings Activist Center (NYC), and Wooden Shoe Books (Philadelphia). She is available for speaking and workshops especially along the East Coast, covering topics including intersex basics, the relationship between body and identity, the medicalization of intersex, and more. Astorino is also an academic, pursuing her Ph.D. in physical anthropology, and spends a lot of time happily nerding out in a lab.

We wish Claudia all the best as she leaves her role as Associate Director to pursue the demands of her academic career, and thank her for her outstanding work for OII-USA! Claudia was lead author (with Viloria as co-author) of the Brief Guidelines for Intersex Allies (October, 2012), which provides a pioneering perspective– in terms of diversity and  equality — on who we are and the issues we face. It has become a well-established resource for the intersex community, which has since been adapted by OII Australia in conjunction with LGBTI organization ACON. Astorino has contributed in immeasurable ways to intersex visibility and equality through her insights, essays and presentations, and we look forward to her continued contributions to the community.

 

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