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People Took To Twitter To Share Their Deeply Personal #IntersexStories

"I've spent one year living and fifteen years hiding. Nobody should have to feel like that."

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Every year on Intersex Awareness Day, which takes place on October 26th, people spread awareness and understanding about what it means to be intersex. This year, many took to twitter to share their #IntersexStories:

Imagine someone tells you "you have a birthmark, but you can't tell anyone about it and you'll never meet anyone with one." #intersexstories

I was told I'd never meet anyone like me #intersexstories

The Intersex Society of North America defines "intersex" as people who are born with "reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male."

Many used the hashtag to voice misconceptions they encounter on a daily basis, while others shared personal anecdotes and frustrations.

#intersexstories not surgeries bc if you didn't erase us people might actually know we're not hermaphrodites

we live in a society that has treated #intersex folk as "problems" that need to be fixed. um excuse you, but I'm not broken #intersexstories

For years I felt different from other girls, I thought something was wrong with me, and I hated myself, I felt so alone #intersexstories

Pidgeon Pagonis, the activist who organized the hashtag campaign, was inspired to get involved after discovering they were intersex during college. Pagonis was also subjected to “corrective” surgery three separate times.

Instagram: @pidgeon_pagonis

"That information coupled with years of intrusive exams with physicians not very different than sexual assault compelled me to get a master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies from DePaul," Pagonis told BuzzFeed News.

"I started the campaign because International Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) is less than 10 years old and has grown leaps and bounds since its inception — which consisted of a handful of intersex activists and a dream," Pagonis said. "Today it has grown to include talks, film screenings and other awareness events all over the world."

Pagonis currently works as an activist and photographer, giving workshops and screenings at universities, conferences, and hospitals around the world.

Pagonis hoped the worldwide event would provide a platform for intersex people to "share stories, provide support, create community, and ultimately spread the message: #IntersexStories, not surgeries."

Instagram: @pidgeon_pagonis

The question of whether or not doctors should operate on intersex infants is a long-running scientific debate that is just getting started in the medical world.

"I believe in the immense power that lies in the act of storytelling and saw Twitter as the best place to allow intersex people, our family, friends, and allies, to tell their stories and reclaim the narrative back from the medical establishment," Pagonis added.

According to Pagonis, the campaign resulted in a 4.2 million reach from 4,715 tweets and 1,277 accounts tweeting.

#IntersexStories not surgeries bc we deserve to experience life in our original bodies

Below are more #IntersexStories shared during the campaign:

The 1st time I treated an #intersex pt I had to Google how to take care of her. That's why #intersexstories are so vital to all.

I'm ashamed to have experienced 1st hand that most medical professionals don't know that intersex =/= transgender #intersexstories

Celebrate #Intersex Awareness Day with me. Share why #IntersexStories—NOT surgeries— are vital & loving. https://t.co/ilL3315lXa #stayalive

I found out at 16 I couldn't have kids, at 27 I have XY chromosomes, and at 31 that I'm #intersex. We need #intersexstories, not surgeries.

Least favorite question: when was the your last menstrual period? Newsflash! Not every female-presenting person bleeds, ok? #intersexstories

I've spent one year living and fifteen years hiding. Nobody should have to feel like that. #intersexstories

To make my body fit the sex binary at birth, doctors took some of my organs. I will have to be on HRT for most of my life #intersexstories

In order to create room for intersex bodies to exist, we have to dismantle patriarchy, sexism and misogyny. #intersexstories

#IntersexStories not surgeries -no child deserves to have their bodies subjected to unnecessary non-consensual genital surgery

even though I'm read as female, I don't get my period & I'm not "supposed to." my body wasn't ever gonna do that & it's ok! #IntersexStories

Being #intersex is a big part of my life and personality, I would never want to be different, I'm proud I was born this way #intersexstories

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