A candid, provocative, and eye-opening memoir of gender identity, self-acceptance, and love from one of the world's foremost intersex activists.
My name is Hida Viloria. I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having 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. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex - meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female - I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.
It wasn't until I was 26 and encountered the term intersex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That's when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders - to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting and in many ways freeing - but it could also be isolating.
I had to know if there were other intersex people like me, but when I finally found an intersex community to connect with I was shocked, and then deeply upset, to learn that most of the people I met had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments meant to "correct" their bodies. Realizing that the invisibility of intersex people in society facilitated these practices, I made it my mission to bring an end to it - and became one of the first people to voluntarily come out as intersex at a national and then international level.
Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.
"Viloria's personal, positive, vibrant, and emotional work of advocacy will educate and affirm." (Booklist)
"A valuable resource for those seeking first-person narratives by intersex people." (Publishers Weekly)
"Intelligent and courageous, [Born Both] 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." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Authors should not narrate their own books!
Honest and Raw and such a Gracious telling.
That she was able to tell the story of how society really views her community with such grace. She's correct in that more people will listen and actually hear what you're saying if you don't come at anyone with your defenses up.
The part of Hita just wanting someone to love her during her rough times in school, and with her parents' fighting, and wanting to drink the poison. It was so raw and so brutal. I could hear the pain in that, and while I'm glad she was able to share, I hope it was therapeutic at least, to be able to tell it.
Yes. It was very hard to shut it off. Each time, I had to stop and process before I went on to the next part of my day.
The way Hita's mother called her by her given name. It just melted me. She had been through some really rough patches, yet she had that soft mommy-speak in the way she called her by that musical name. Choked me up at every mention.
I'd like to comment on one of the videos I watched as I checked them all out as they were mentioned. The arrogant doctor on 20/20 who made the statements about society not being accepting about intersex, etc..I feel like 'society' is all him. It was more about his own non acceptance. Why does anyone need a label? Can't people just be who they are? Human beings? Hita? Me? Do we really need a disorder or a label in order to be acknowledged as human beings? Do we need any of that in order to be a productive member of society?
Hita's graceful manner of teaching about awareness acknowledges and touches and includes so many who just want to be heard and loved. And that's what she does-she loves unconditionally. She deserves the very same.