Florida, Massachusetts, and Arizona

It's a busy summer for us at Intersex and Faith!

Megan and Paul flew to Florida to interview intersex activist, Anunnaki Ray and his family. We are continually amazed by the courage, kindness, and generosity of our interviewees. While in town, we were also able to interview members of Anunnaki's faith congregation, a skeptic turned supporter whom he met on opposing sides of a Human Rights Ordinance debate, and Dr. Judi Herring whose TED talk "Gender Bound" introduces her advocacy for intersex people and reform of medical protocols. We can't wait to share their stories with you!

On June 29th, Megan and Paul hosted a fundraiser in Salem, MA, to launch our IndieGoGo campaign. It was amazing to see around 100 people coming out to CinemaSalem to learn about our project. The encouraging feedback we received (and continue receiving) gives us hope and courage to keep doing what we are doing.

Megan, Lianne, and Paul are heading to Phoenix, AZ, July 13-16 to lead two workshops at the AISDSD Annual Conference (AISDSD = Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and Differences of Sex Development). In one session we'll be sharing excerpts from the documentary-in-progress discussion how faith relates to intersex experiences. In the second we are leading a workshop entitled "Finding Your Voice" with Cecelia MacDonald (whose TED talk you can watch here).

We'll be making other trips this summer to try and finish all of our shooting so that we can begin the editing process and continue to apply for grants and approach major donors to bring this project to YOU as soon as humanly possible. Thanks for your support!

Baltimore, Boston, and Colorado Springs

We have been busy the last few months getting the momentum rolling on the documentary. 

On December 1, Paul Van Ness of Cinema Salem hosted a fundraiser and screening of our new trailer. (Watch it HERE if you miss it!) Friends and colleagues turned out to support and donate. Thank you to our many supporters. Here are some of the things we have been able to do because you gave:

In December we flew Marissa up from Baltimore to Boston to film for a few days. Marissa was born at Brigham and Women's Hospital and had several early surgeries (as an infant and toddler) at Boston Children's Hospital. She shares her story of the trauma of follow-up doctor visits and how her life was turned around after she connected with other intersex people through AIS-DSD (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome - Differences of Sex Development Support Group) and InterAct. Raised a conservative Christian, she is trying to find her way back to church and wonders what churches will welcome her as an intersex woman.

In January we interviewed the Executive Director of InterAct, Kimberly Zieslemann, who shared how her own medical records had been hidden from her as a child and teen. Kimberly and her colleagues work to protect the rights of intersex people in the hopes that non-medically necessary surgeries will one day only be performed on those old enough to consent.

Over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, we flew to Colorado to film interviews with Megan, an intersex teen, along with her parents, pastor and youth pastor. Megan shares about finding out about her differences of sex development as a teenager and how it is shaping her faith and their family. While there, we were generously housed by a relative of one of our supporters so we could keep our costs down in the process.

We are working on paring down hours of footage to a 20 minute video for a conference Megan is helping to host at Boston University Feb. 24-26. Follow this link for more information about the conference. Friday's screening will be open to the public and free of charge.

To all of our donors:  THANK YOU for putting us on the path to educating the wider public about intersex people, their presence in our faith communities, and their need for legal protections and welcome among us.  

We still need help in our fundraising efforts, so please share about our work and connect us to those you think would support this project.

To make sure you don't miss our updates, join our mailing list HERE.

Thanks friends,

Megan DeFranza

 

Megan DeFranza with Marissa at Boston Logan Airport

Megan DeFranza with Marissa at Boston Logan Airport

Paul Van Ness filming Megan's interview with Megan

Paul Van Ness filming Megan's interview with Megan

Hanging out with Megan's family in Colorado Springs

Hanging out with Megan's family in Colorado Springs

Paul capturing Colorado landscape

Paul capturing Colorado landscape

From Portland, Maine, to Los Angeles, CA

We have had a very busy Autumn.

In September, the Bangor Theological Seminary Center brought us to Portland, Maine, to give a public lecture on the University of New England campus. This was followed by a half-day workshop for pastors, priests, and Christians leaders.

This past weekend in October, the Reformation Project brought us out to Los Angeles to serve as keynote speakers at their annual conference on LGBT inclusion. Many there, while passionate about including people who don’t fit into the typical patterns of love or gender expression, had never heard an intersex Christian tell their story. She was rewarded with a standing ovation.

 

 

 

While in town, Azusa Pacific University asked us to train some of their students, from their social work, psychology, and pastoral care programs, on how they can come alongside those for whom sex does not develop along typical pathways.

These have been days of rich conversations, eager and thoughtful learning, and encouragement for the work we are doing.

The majority of people we talk to have never heard of intersex or Differences of Sex Development (DSDs) so thinking about how human sex diversity challenges the ways in which many of us were taught to read the Bible is new to many. But when they start to read Genesis in a way that fits with the grand story of God’s love for the whole world, not for only a special few… Let me tell you… We heard more than a few “Amens!” from our audiences.

What a joy it is to meet Christians who truly care, who are willing to learn, who are eager to make the world a safer and more welcoming place for all God’s children.

Thanks to all of you who came and encouraged us and a special thanks to those who donated to our documentary project. We can’t do this work without your support!

Gratefully,

Megan and Lianne

Welcome & How we began

Welcome you to our new site where we can share with you some of the work we are doing together. 

Lianne found Megan on FaceBook back when Megan was working on her doctoral dissertation--the document that would eventually become her book, Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God. Lianne lamented the fact that she had yet to find theological resources about intersex that she could feel comfortable and confident sharing with her conservative pastor. She was hoping Megan's work would provide part of that solution. Meanwhile Megan was glad to find someone willing to read three hundred pages and give feedback on her developing ideas. 

Lianne had been active in education, advocacy, and support for years long before we met. She is an active blogger and founder of xyTurners, a support group for children with Mixed Gonadal Dysgenesis, some of whom had treatment induced gender dysphoria. Finding stories to be a powerful medium she wrote Confessions of a Teenage Hermaprodite, a fictionalized account of and intersex boy growing up in a conservative Christian family. Lianne has gone on to publish another novel, A Proper Young Ladythe story of a girl with AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) coming to terms with her own identity, her desires for love and family.

For several years we communicated via email until an opportunity arose to speak together at the Wild Goose Festival, in Hot Springs, NC, in August of 2013. There, in the rain and humidity under a small white tent by the river Lianne shared some of her story of growing up intersex, finding faith in Jesus, and eventually, finally,  integrating both of these aspects of her identity. Megan recounted how Christians have historically read the Bible in ways that marginalize intersex persons and then suggested alternative—we think better—ways of interpreting the Bible. Thus our partnership began.

Now we speak together, and write, and are collaborating on new ways to get the message out, the message that Christian faith does not need to marginalize those who do not fit neatly into the categories of "Son of Adam" or "Daughter of Eve." We believe all of our churches and communities of faith can be places where all of God's children are safe and all are welcome.

We hope you'll join us.