Much has been written about the eight Transgender victories on Election Day, but Betsy Driver’s victory in Flemington, New Jersey is often overlooked. Driver, a longtime Intersex activist, won a seat on the borough council, and is believed to be the first openly Intersex person to be elected to public office in the United States.
Like so many Intersex infants and children, Driver was a victim of Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM), a misguided, barbaric practice that tries to force Intersex children into what they deem acceptable gender roles. There is nothing wrong with the Intersex child; it’s society that has the problem.
At three months old, doctors started performing what they politely called “genital normalizing surgery” to make her conform to their notion of what a female body should look like. They amputated her entire clitoris, because, “… it was larger than what the doctors considered acceptable. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, it wasn’t diseased or causing me any medical problems but they considered it a social emergency.”
“When I was born, the doctors who delivered me were unable to clearly tell my mom and dad whether I was male or female. After a couple days, they found a uterus and ovaries. From that moment forward, my body was medicalized and surgically altered without my consent.”
We must make people aware of all the victims who suffered these unnecessary surgeries, the victims of societal rejection who took their lives because of isolation and despair, as well as those who never had the opportunity to live the lives they were born to live.
And we must also give thanks to those who overcame the pressures of society and survived despite the ignorance and bigotry that tried to define them. We can no longer accept the indignities we were forced to bear; it is time for us to define ourselves.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Betsy Driver for taking that step and leading the way to our acceptance.