BORN BOTH by Hida Viloria


An Intersex Life
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A noted activist tells the inspiring story of he/r struggles discovering and living he/r lesbian intersex identity.

Until s/he was 20 years old, Viloria lived he/r life as a female (pronouns the author self-identifies with). But when a doctor said that the size of he/r clitoris “just [wasn’t] normal” and asked to run tests on he/r, Viloria began to question he/r identity. He/r femaleness had never been an issue at home; neither he/r mother nor he/r doctor father had ever discussed he/r physical differences and never allowed for any surgical alterations at birth. At the same time, however, he/r Catholic upbringing had made it difficult for Viloria to acknowledge to he/r parents that s/he was a lesbian. A move to San Francisco in 1990 propelled the author on a journey of sexual self-discovery that included relationships primarily with women and occasionally men. Five years later, and after reading a newspaper article on intersex people, s/he finally came to the realization that s/he, too, was intersex, or as s/he would say later on, a “hermaphrodyke.” Viloria began experimenting with he/r identity and, for a time, dressed and acted like a male before settling into a more consciously androgynous mode of self-presentation. S/he also became involved with intersex organizations, where s/he not only learned the vocabulary to articulate he/r identity, but also about the surgeries that deprived other hermaphrodites “the opportunity to explore who and what they were, from the beginning.” He/r awakening consciousness to the plight of intersex people drove he/r to shed all remaining vestiges of inhibition regarding he/r differences and become a passionate advocate of the intersex community. In he/r personal life, Viloria came to understand and eventually break self-destructive patterns that had kept he/r from the loving lesbian partnership s/he had always wanted for herself. Intelligent and courageous, the author’s book chronicles one intersex person’s path to wholeness, but it also affirms the right of all intersex and nonbinary people to receive dignity and respect.

A relentlessly honest and revealing memoir.

Pub Date: March 14th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-316-34784-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Hachette
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2017


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