Five Intersex Stories of Sex, Gender, and Religious Faith
November 8, 2019
Boston, MA – Intersex and Faith’s film Stories of Intersex and Faith is available to purchase for institutional screenings as of November 8, 2019. Stories of Intersex and Faith is an eye-opening documentary that explores the unique medical, religious, and social barriers that intersex people continue to face today. Through sharing the stories of five intersex people, the documentary ultimately helps viewers enter a more constructive conversation on one of the most divisive issues facing not only faith communities, but society as a whole.
Stories of Intersex and Faith has already been screened at Harvard Medical School, Fordham University, Calvin College, and Marquette University, and viewers described it as “shocking,” breathtaking,” and “deeply moving.” Dr. Timothy Johnson says the film “does an amazing job of both educating about confusing medical conditions and illuminating the religious questions surrounding these phenomena. My brain was wonderfully engaged and my spirit was deeply moved.” Rev. Matthew Lyon said, “As a conservative Baptist pastor, this film was a wake-up call. This documentary is not about political or theological agendas, but about loving all those among us who have been hurt and are seeking spiritual care.”
Shamed into silence and scarred by surgeries, intersex people are fighting their way out of invisibility, advocating for the freedom to exist. “Intersex people will tell you that their biggest concern is to stop the three S’s – shame, surgery, and silence,” says filmmaker Megan DeFranza, “since the 1950s, doctors in the United States have been operating on infants and children in order to hide their differences, telling parents not to talk with their kids, and telling kids not to tell anyone else. Parents were trying to protect their children from feeling shame, but the surgeries and silence produced shame—and scar tissue—anyway.”
In addition to being permanent and often harmful, surgeries on intersex children are frequently purely cosmetic, causing the United Nations to call these needless surgeries a human rights violation and torture. While the medical community seeks to “fix” intersex children, many religious communities struggle to understand how intersex people fit into their male/female binary. Yet, these five remarkable stories reveal how some intersex people find healing and hope in their religious faith. Together they insist, “It’s society that needs to be healed, not us.”
To host a screening for a faith or community center, university, college, high school, or other institution, please contact the Intersex and Faith team at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to screenings, they also offer appearances by the filmmakers and/or film subjects for participation and discussion involving the documentary. Please clearly indicate your interest when contacting them for availability and pricing details. For more information, visit http://storiesofintersexandfaith.com/#purchase.
Stories of Intersex and Faith was produced by Megan DeFranza, Lianne Simon, and Paul Van Ness. Megan DeFranza is a Christian theologian with a Ph.D. in religious studies. She is a Research Associate at the Center for Mind and Culture and author of Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God. Lianne Simon is a Christian Intersex woman, intersex advocate, and author of Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite and A Proper Young Lady. Paul Van Ness is an award-winning filmmaker and owner of Cinema Salem in Salem, MA.
Intersex and Faith is a nonprofit started by Megan DeFranza and Lianne Simon, which works to support advocate with, and educate others about intersex people in order to help faith communities welcome those born outside the male/female binary. To learn more about Intersex and Faith, Megan and Lianne, or Stories of Intersex and Faith visit www.intersexandfaith.org. The trailer for the film is available at https://vimeo.com/292382302.
Written by Nathan Patti, Research Assistant. November 8, 2019.