August 22, 2012 / Santa Rosa, California, USA
Hi, my name is Bo Laurent, and I’ve also used the name Cheryl Chase sometimes.
I’m making this video because I want you to know that you are not alone. I was born with unusual-looking genitals and that meant that people couldn’t tell what sex I was when I was born, and that caused the doctors and parents to be really emotionally upset about it. They were confused and afraid and they didn’t know what to do with me, and eventually they decided to label me a boy. Doctors told my parents that basically my genitals were unusual and there was nothing they could do about it.
My parents actually raised me as a boy for a year and a half, and then they found their way to a different set of doctors who decided that I was not ‘really a boy’ but I was ‘really a girl.’ I actually think that I wasn’t really either but the second set of doctors told my parents that they could perform surgery that was going to make certain that I would come out normal. The surgery was surgery that basically destroyed my clitoris and the possibility of satisfying future sexual function.
They told my parents to move to another town and not tell anybody where they went, and not to ever tell me what happened. The outcome of that has been one that was really harmful for me and for my family. It undermined the ability for my parents and me to have a relationship over the long term.
I’d like to talk to parents who have an infant with an intersex diagnosis or an intersex finding. I know that that usually produces a lot of emotional confusion, fear, anxiety, stress, and the thing is some people think surgery will alleviate that emotional stress on the part of the parents, but it doesn’t. In fact, what we know is that when people are under that kind of emotional distress they make terrible decisions.
If you have an intersex baby and you’re being pressed to make some decisions about surgery; push back. Now is the time to just get to know your baby, enjoy your baby, find some support, take some time to learn more about intersex, and to come to be at peace with your feelings.
One thing we know about really difficult feelings like that is that nobody stays in crisis forever. If you’re in emotional crisis it feels like it’ll be forever but if you can get your way to a support group you’ll find parents who remember that time but now they’re living their lives, they’re back to most every day is not about intersex, and it’ll help you get some perspective. When you’re feeling really confused and afraid about what this intersexuality thing means for your family, and for your child’s future life, is a bad time to make irreversible decisions.
For me the answer to all that was to be open about who I am and what happened to me. Turns out that there are a lot of people who have experiences similar to mine and I was able to find those people and talk with them. One of the things that I’m actually really grateful for is that, in my life, I’ve had the honor and privilege of being able to help a lot of other people deal with the kind of pain that I and my family went through, and people don’t have to do it alone anymore. ©