Updated: Mar 1, 2020
… “let’s remove the blinders and embrace each other in this extraordinary moment of existence – we are here, now, unique, and never will be again.”
Here’s a little teaser preview of my piece BEYOND BIOLOGY for the Modern Womxn art show at Alma Mater May 2-30. I’ll be revealing more as we get closer …
CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH
The Modern Womxn show led me to reconsider stereotypes, particularly attributed to male versus female behavior, treatment and characteristics. For me, what it means to be a “woman” is akin to inquiring what it means to be a human. I ask, ‘Does who you do, define you?’ Whether genetically XX (female), XY (male) or any of the others, such as XXYX (intersex), we all yearn to be known as individuals. Gender identity is a hotly-debated topic, but we’ve barely nicked the surface of the nuanced subject of biological variation. Ancient Greek culture was aware of what they called, “hermaphroditism” and created works of art to celebrate it. Now, it is better understood as intersex, the naturally-occurring phenomenon of humans born with ambiguous external genitalia or internal organs (ovaries and testes).
These characteristics are inborn, but aren’t always recognized at birth, for instance, an individual having one internal ovary and one testicle. Some people live their entire life not knowing that they are intersex until they seek to know why they are infertile and digital imaging reveals their unique internal anatomy, or it is discovered during an autopsy. Intersex Olympic athletes, like gold medalist Caster Semenya, force us to reckon with these evolutionary explorations.
Evolution needs variation to choose from and these genetic events are nature’s way of ensuring the future. Hopefully, with knowledge and understanding, we will be comfortable with ambiguity and pause to consider declaring the gender of an infant born with both sexual organs, perhaps even until they reach puberty and decide for themselves.
Evolution has no end; it is always striving forward, struggling to support the immortality of genetic code. Intersex individuals may be the chimera of today, but they may also be our future.
Before we create artificial delineations, let’s remove the blinders and embrace each other in this extraordinary moment of existence – we are here, now, unique, and never will be again.