Intersex Writer and Activist
Long Live Grace: Happy Birthday & Thanks to a Genderqueer Pioneer!

Long Live Grace: Happy Birthday & Thanks to a Genderqueer Pioneer!

“The future is no sex.” — Grace Jones

Countless people, including myself, have been deeply saddened by the loss of icons David Bowie and Prince this year. In my case, I also kicked myself, while grieving, for having never sent a message of gratitude to either one. God/dess knows if they’d ever have gotten it, but I’d really wanted to tell them, in case they did, what a positive impact they had on my life.

So today, I want to thank, and to celebrate the life, of the third icon that came to mind each time I mourned the passing of the others, by saying: Happy Birthday Grace Jones — thank you for being born and for being you! You saved my life in high school, and were a source of inspiration for me to love myself in the years that followed.

While “saved my life” may sound extreme to some, it’s not when you consider that I was a closeted, gender fluid, Latinx (Latinos with non-binary gender identities), intersex, queer, attending Catholic high school in the ‘80’s – with parents that were even less accepting than the homophobic, transphobic community around me. Boy, did I need something, or someone, to tell me it was okay to be who I am! Thankfully, the universe answered my prayers, in the form of Bowie, Prince, and Grace Jones – what I think of loosely as the Holy Genderqueer Triad. They were my role models as someone who didn’t feel 100% girl or boy, but more of a combination of the two. Of the three of them, Grace spoke most directly to my experience.
Grace Jones Nightclubbing Album Cover

Living, as I was, in an extremely racist, sexist, and homophobic home and community, seeing someone who boldly rejected these dynamics, shining confidently and beautifully in who they are, and in all their talent, was inspirationally life altering for me. Grace seemed to laugh in the face of racism, sexism, and homophobia, showing off all the aspects of herself that were dark, masculine and “unwomanly”, while also, simultaneously, embracing traditionally feminine modes of gender expression.

The result was someone unlike anyone I’d ever seen: legally a woman of color, yet one who seemed to feel like both a man and/or a woman. She confirmed this in a 1984 interview in Interview magazine, saying things I’d never heard uttered before.
Grace Jones Interview mag 1984

TALLEY: There are people who say to me, “Grace Jones, she’s not a real woman, she’s a man, a drag queen.” How do you feel about that?

JONES: I don’t care. I like dressing like a guy. I love it. When I was modeling I used to do pictures where I would dress up like my little brother. No makeup and I looked like a boy.

TALLEY: Don’t you think it’s passé the way society puts these sort of stigmas and labels, “boy,” “girl”?

JONES: Very passé. The future is no sex.

TALLEY: You can change your personality.

JONES: You can be a boy, a girl, whatever you want. I have a lot of man in me.

TALLEY:  And you have a lot of woman in you too, darling.

JONES: I have just as much woman in me as I have man. It’s just a matter of channeling the energy into which way you use it.

Shortly afterwards, in another magazine interview, Grace was quoted saying, “I am both man and woman” (sorry, I can’t find the source, and don’t want to delay getting this out on Grace’s birthday).
Grace Jones flexing

I wasn’t sure if she was referring to something physical, and I assumed that she probably wasn’t, but it didn’t matter. I had just started to realize how androgynous my body’s sex characteristics are, and I’ll never forget the value of seeing those words on the page.

Whether Grace meant that she was both a man and a woman in her mind, or in her body as well as her mind, like me, the statement made me feel that I wasn’t alone in the universe. In fact, coming from her, it made me feel like I was in very good company.

A decade later, in the mid-1990’s, I became one of a handful of people to begin speaking out publicly on television, radio and film about being intersex, and I know I would never have been able to do it if Grace and Prince hadn’t paved the way as brave, gender nonconforming people of color. Obviously, my journey and my relationship with my gender identity are my own, but it’s always easier to be something that you are familiar with, or, in this case, that you have witnessed at least once.

While Grace and her statements weren’t the first thing thing that came to mind when I realized that I’m a genderqueer, intersex person, it would be remiss of me not to point out that they inevitably informed and made it easier for me to be who I am, simply by virtue of having been a part of media-covered, mainstream consciousness.

The term “genderqueer”, and the genderqueer community, didn’t exist yet when I came out as non-binary intersex person, so hearing Grace proclaim that she was both a man and a woman, and Prince proclaim that he was neither (in his lyrics., “I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I am something that you’ll never understand”, from “I Would Die 4 U”), were the only mirrors I had to being the genderqueer herm that I am. And speaking of similarities, I just noticed that Grace even rocked the same topless suspender look that I used to love to do. :)

Grace Jones suspenders

Whether you know it or feel it or not Grace Jones, you are a genderqueer pioneer. So Happy Birthday, from me and the countless others whose lives you’ve made better! Thank you for showing me that I could be myself by having the guts to be your awesomely original self. And thank you for the incredible music, performances and persona that you’ve shared with us over the years, and for kicking ass for so long — I can’t wait to read your memoir, and to see you perform onstage in Berkeley this August, and am wildly impressed that you’re still doing it!

I hope you’ve had exactly the birthday that you want. Even though I should be working on my manuscript edits right now (and btw, the title is Born Both ), I just couldn’t let another day, especially today, go by without sharing with you, and the world, what a pioneering, badass, super hero/heroine you’ve been to me! What’s more, in your honor, I’m going to watch the video for “Pull Up to the Bumper”. It’s not only fun and funky as hell, but it reminds me of the time period when I was an at-risk, suicidal kid in Queens, New York, and you made all the difference. <3

Presenting at Princeton!

I am honored and excited to be presenting my 101 workshop, “Reimagining the Human Species: Intersex People in Society”, and my lecture,” Sex is Complicated: Intersexionality and Intersex Human Rights, Identity and Discourse”, today at Princeton. It’s truly incredible to see how far awareness, and discussions about intersex people’s lives have come, and an honor… Continue Reading

Published in a new college textbook on queer theory by Oxford Univ. Press!

Published in a new college textbook on queer theory by Oxford Univ. Press!

My essay, “What’s in a Name: Intersex and Identity”, was selected for and appears in the college textbook, Queer: A Reader for Writers, published this January, 2016, by Oxford University Press. The book includes an interdisciplinary mix of public, academic, and cultural reading selections, and was developed for courses in first-year writing. It provides students with… Continue Reading

Speaking at the APPPAH 19th Congress

I’ll be speaking about the right to genital integrity, as it relates to intersex people, this Friday, December 4th, at the Association For Prenatal And Perinatal Psychology And Health (APPPAH)’s 19th International Congress (December 3-6, 2015). I am honored to be joined by FGM survivor, award-winning director (Fire Eyes, which highlights the barbaric practice of FGM),… Continue Reading

Essay published in the Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics medical journal

Essay published in the Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics medical journal

My essay, “Promoting Health and Social Progress by Accepting and Depathologizing Benign Intersex Traits”, has been published in the Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics fall issue, which features a Narrative Symposium on Intersex. From the NIB website’s description of the symposium: What are the joys and heartaches faced by people diagnosed intersex? These symposium authors offer readers an honest look into their lives. The… Continue Reading

My video for the U.N.’s Free & Equal campaign!

It is truly an honor to appear in this short video by the UN Free & Equal Campaign for LGBT equality, which they have released in conjunction with their fantastic new Intersex Fact Sheet. The video was filmed when I was invited to speak at the U.N. on Human Rights Day, back in 2013, as… Continue Reading

Speaking to Stanford students, about love <3

My mind has been spinning non-stop this past week, swirling in the aftermath and analysis of hate. We have witnessed so many innocent people being gunned down b/c they are black, and then a rash of hateful, dismissive, and/or devaluing remarks towards a woman because she identifies as black. Both incidents have made me very… Continue Reading

Interviewed live today on LA radio’s Ann Walker Show, with Ian Harvie!

I’m very excited to be interviewed live today on the fabulous Ann Walker Show,  co-hosted by hysterical, talented trans comedian Ian Harvie, who has starred on the acclaimed television show Transparent, and was interviewed along with me and others in the fantastic new book The Human Agenda. The show runs from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Pacific Standard… Continue Reading

Speaking in SF this Friday, June 5th, for Pride Month! :)

I’m thrilled to join Joe Wenke, author of The Human Agenda: Conversations about Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, and my fellow contributors Gisele Alicia (model, Barney’s Brothers & Sisters Campaign) and Captain Kevin Fisher-Paulson (author, SF Sheriff’s Dept.)  to share our stories, perspectives and commitment to freedom and equality. Please join for what promises to be a thought… Continue Reading

Two talks in Barcelona!

Two talks in Barcelona!

I am deeply grateful to fantastic allies Professors Joan Pujol Tarrés, PhD, and Marisela Montenegro, PhD, of the Department of Social Psychology (Departament de Psicologia Social) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), and Miguel Misse & Pol Galofre of Barcelona’s Cultura Trans, for sponsoring two fantastic events to bring  me to Barcelona! I lectured… Continue Reading

My video in fab GENDER TALENTS project by Carlos Motta

I was interviewed for Gender Talents, a fantastic web-based project by artist Carlos Motta that engages movements and discourses for gender self-determination within trans and interest communities. Carlos did a FANTASTIC job capturing some of my best points about the numerous issues that impact intersex people —  such as homophobia, gender-variant-phobia, sexism, fear of lesbian… Continue Reading

My interview in fab GENDER TALENTS web project

I was interviewed for <em>Gender Talents</em>, a fantastic web-based project by artist Carlos Motta that engages movements and discourses for gender self-determination within trans and interest communities. Carlos did a FANTASTIC job capturing some of my best points about the numerous issues that impact intersex people —  such as homophobia, gender-variant-phobia, sexism, fear of lesbian… Continue Reading

My interview in The Human Agenda: Conversations about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

I am interviewed in the fantastic new book The Human Agenda: Conversations about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (February 5, 2015), by author and LGBTQI advocate Joe Wenke. I speak about the harmful “normalizing” non-consensual medical practices – a.k.a. Intersex Genital Mutiltion (IGM) – that intersex minors are often subjected to, the dangers of pathologizing intersex… Continue Reading

New Advocate Essay: Bullying Intersex Women Athletes with High T

Well, they changed my original title – “Bullying By Any Other Name: What’s Really Behind Regulations for Women with High Testosterone” – to, “Stop Freaking Out About Female Intersex Athletes”, but otherwise I’m thrilled to have this essay run in the Advocate! (Read here:   It elaborates on the issue in all the ways… Continue Reading

Post-Aljazeera, intersex athletes, & letting Dutee run!

So I showed my Aljazeera interview to the lovely woman I’m dating this morning, and it left me with some thoughts to share. The interview was about the IOC & IAAF’s regulations for women athletes with naturally high testosterone levels, which ban them from competing as women unless they undergo medically unnecessary procedures to lower… Continue Reading

Pre-Aljazeera Thoughts on Fashionable Bigotry

I’m going to be on Aljazeera today — soon, in fact — talking about the sports policies against intersex woman with hyperandrogenism (high testosterone levels). Much more to come, but here’s the skinny: these women haven’t been doping & yet they are being forced to take unnecessary hormones & sometimes have surgery just to be able to… Continue Reading

On Aljazeera today, Sept 3rd, 12:30pm PST

I’m thrilled to be on Aljazeera radio’s The Stream today, speaking about how the sports regulations against intersex women athletes — specifically those with hyperandrogenism (high testosterone levels) — are discrimination, pure & simple. Also on will be fabulous allies Payoshni Mitra and Katrina Karkazis. Click here to watch.   Continue Reading

New Blog Essay on Cisgender “Finally, everything I’ve been saying about cisgender — and how it reinforces the gender binary — in one LONG (yes, warning, it’s dense) essay. “ Continue Reading

Presenting at GA14, the 13th Annual Genital Autonomy Symposium

I’m thrilled to present at this fantastic event, and honored to join with fellow pioneers in the fight for bodily intergrity and an end to infant genital cutting. I will be introducing the award winning inersex documentary Intersexion ( on July 23rd and 24th, with a Q&A to follow.  On the 24th I will be speaking… Continue Reading

The Gender that Dare Not Speak its Name

One of the icons of the queer community once said, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” I’m talking about the Western world’s first openly gay diva, the one and only, Oscar Wilde, whose wise words make me feel much better about missing last week’s blog post (as well as the “Wednesday” target this… Continue Reading

The Importance of Allies

So I went to a baseball game for the first time in about 35 years yesterday, because the person who invited me is so cool she inspired some formerly nonexistent interest, and I actually had a great time! (Such a great time that this blog is being posted on Thursday, rather than the typical Wednesday,… Continue Reading

Interview on IMRU Radio, Los Angeles Got to speak to fantastic intersex ally Vash Boddie of IMRU Radio for this one, mainly about the Third international Intersex Forum and the global intersex advocacy community’s goals, and I love how it came out. The interview starts 34:20 minutes in FYI, and is short and sweet, in case you wanna give a… Continue Reading

Just another frivolous, glittery gender observation

Given my newfound commitment to weekly Wednesday blogging , not every blog will be a well thought out exploration of topics deeply intergral to being intersex. Some weeks’ posts are bound to be just the random, shallow but hopefully funny musings of your typical intersex chick next door. I think this is one of them.… Continue Reading

The Third Sex: Then, Now, Never

I’ll never forget seeing the cover of a 1950’s lesbian novel called The Third Sex. It’d been made into a postcard, and was on sale at one of those touristy gay stores in Manhattan’s West Village. The cover was alarmist, calling homosexuality “society’s greatest curse”, and featuring a picture of two women about to make… Continue Reading

Who do you think you are: intersex and appropriation

I was recently interviewed by the awesome Vash Boddie of IMRU radio in L.A., the county’s longest running LGBTI radio station (airdate T.B.A.). At one point, he said, “everyone’s a little intersex”, and it got me thinking: who can call themselves intersex? It’s a relevant question because, believe it or not, there’s a fair amount… Continue Reading

How Now Pro Noun?  

Nowadays, the preferred-gender-pronoun question comes up quickly when I speak about being intersex. I see it as a positive indication that we’re moving beyond Intersex 101, and folks are starting to wonder what we’re actually like, as people. I tell them that, just like non-intersex people, we have a wide range of gender identities and… Continue Reading

Advocating Equality

Hi everyone! I thought I’d apologize for and share that the reason it’s taken me SO long to write something new is that my mom passed away this year. Being a sensitive, emotional type, and her death being unexpected, it knocked me for a loop. And then another. And another. Now however, I feel her… Continue Reading

New essay in The Advocate: Intersex & Identity

My latest blog post/essay —  What’s in a Name: Intersex and Identity — discusses the history of society deeming people who are different as innately inferior, how this is currently happening to intersex people, and how this language does not support equality. Hope you like it, & thanks to the Advocate for running it! Continue Reading

Interview on LA Talk Radio 5-7pm

Today I’ll be talking with fabulous radio personality Sheena Metal — who recently came out as intersex herself — on her show the Sheena Metal Experience!!! Two intersex folks dishing it for two hours on the radio– it’s a first for me & it should be great. To listen in, go to: Continue Reading

Video of my presentation at the UN. O M G….!

Yesterday was a magical moment, a dream come true. Feeling blessed & grateful to have this opportunity to educate the world about intersex people’s need for human rights, and with such amazing co-panelists. NOTE: UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay had to cancel due to Nelson Mandela’s memorial, but UN Assistant Secretary-General for… Continue Reading

Speaking at the UN for Human Rights Day!

It’s thrilling and an honor to be presenting at the United Nations in New York in recognition of Human Rights Day, Dec. 10th, along with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, basketball star Jason Collins (the 1st NBA player to come out as gay), and fabulous human rights… Continue Reading

My segment on HuffPostLive

This was perhaps my most enjoyable media experience ever, b/c I got to do it with some of my favorite American intersex activists.  I’m grateful & thrilled that HuffPostLive wanted to do a segment with intersex people about who we are, and that they asked me to direct them to the other guests. Joining me… Continue Reading

Essay in The Advocate: Germany’s Third-Gender Law Fails on Equality

Yes, there’s more to say about Germany’s new third gender law, especially to readers that understand the LGBTI perspective and the issues that affect us.  Also, I got to correct inaccurate press statements about Australia’s third gender law applying to intersex babies, which it doesn’t, just adults who want it. Read “Germany’s Third Gender Law… Continue Reading

I’m keynote speaker at fantastic event today Very happy to be presenting at this event for parents which deals specifically with the issue of children’s right to physical integrity.  And I have a whole stack of brochures of the educational resource for parents of intersex newborns that I authored — Your Beautiful Child: Information for Parents — to bring with me.… Continue Reading

I’ll be on BBC World Services tonight

I’m going to be interviewed on BBC World Services tonight about being intersex in light of Germany’s new third gender law, which becomes effective tomorrow, November 1st. The show, Newsday, starts at 8:30pm PST (calif time), and I should be on approx 9:20pm. Spoiler alert: the law is NOT a good thing for intersex babies,… Continue Reading

Happy Intersex Awareness Day everyone!!!!

Please help spread awareness by sharing the info in this link with at least one person in your life. Continue Reading

Ann Walker Show radio interview today

Hi all! I’ll be speaking to radio personality and award-winning TV, film and stage actress Ann Walker,  later today on The Ann Walker Show on United Broadcast Radio.  Tune in from 6-7:30pm (I’ll be coming on around 6:20) at, Channel 1. Also on the show: some folks from the Metropolitan Community Church talking about the book… Continue Reading

My essay in The Advocate

I’m thrilled to have one of my blog essays, “Intersex: The Final Coming Out Frontier”,  published in The Advocate, the US’s oldest, largest LGBT (hopefully soon to be LGBTI ) publication. Yay for inclusion! (Even if they did use the dorkiest picture of me ever, lol!) Continue Reading

Hermaphrodykes on Bikes

Hermaphrodykes on Bikes

The LGBTQI Pride Parade was today in Los Angeles, and instead of riding with the Dykes on Bikes, or watching with friends and then going to Booby Trap, the queer women’s pool party, I found myself blissfully biking down to the beach, then along the beach… then texting cancellations. Basically, I’m more into chill activities… Continue Reading

We’re Here, We’re Herms, Get Used to It!

We’re Here, We’re Herms, Get Used to It!

[Note: In honor of LGBTQI Pride month, this post’s title is a riff on the old Queer Nation slogan, “We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get used to it!”] There’s a line in Golden Boy, the excellent, recently released novel featuring a 16 year-old intersex protagonist, where he says that you have to choose one or the other, boy… Continue Reading

Golden Boy, by Abigail Tarttelin: Read it!

Just read the novel Golden Boy, by Abigail Tarttelin, about a 16 year-old intersex boy. The full review’s coming up separately, but I want to quickly say that I found it hard to put down, and that it didn’t– unlike lots of stuff written by non-intersex people about intersex people – offend me or, imho,… Continue Reading

My org OII selected as a finalist for Global Prize for Social Justice!

I’m flying off to Michigan tomorrow to present Organisation Intersex International’s work in person on Saturday, May 11th, and whether or not we win, it’s an honor to our work acknowledged by the jurors, including the likes of the incredible Angela Davis. Continue Reading

Jesus Was My Intersex Role Model

Jesus Was My Intersex Role Model

Recently, I’ve been thinking about what motivated me to be an intersex spokesperson and activist. For starters, there’s inspirational role models like the incredibly brilliant, badass Angela Davis. She took the racist establishment on head first, eloquently and bravely, jeopardizing her career as a university professor and spending 18 months in prison as a result.… Continue Reading

Birth of a Well-Hung Woman

Today, I want to talk about my favorite new idiom: well-hung woman.  As most English speakers know, “well-hung” is slang for a man with a large penis, so you might be wondering how a woman could be well-hung? Well, if you know something about intersex people, you may have already figured it out; but in… Continue Reading

Hida on Montel Williams

Hida on Montel Williams: December 1998.  Wow I was young! Lookout for part 3:56 in where I call out a doctor on his prejudiced, negative portrayal of intersex bodies and get big applause from the audience. Continue Reading

Hida talks to Oprah

Hida on Oprah!  Finally, the video of my interview   I love where Oprah says I “walk between worlds”, and also where I say that I don’t want to have to choose between male or female because “I’m both.” Continue Reading

Blog & Essay in The Global Herald: Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation — Unless They’re Intersex!

My latest blog post for today, The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.  Racism & Intersexphobia in US Ban on Female Genital Mutilation And in The Global Herald: “US Ban on Female Genital Mutilation Mired in Racism and Fear” / Fyi, The Global Herald changed my original title, which used the word… Continue Reading

Discriminatory Views Create Discriminatory Medical Treatment

Discriminatory Views Create Discriminatory Medical Treatment Author: Hida Viloria, Chairperson, Organisation Intersex International (OII), Director OII USA Note: A small percentage of intersex variations sometimes require medical attention for immediate health reasons.  This treatment is necessary, and is not what I am referring to below. People who promote nonconsensual genital surgeries and/or hormone therapy for… Continue Reading

My latest Unamiguously Intersex blog post: Colbert Just Got Cooler. Also on Tumblr (

Last week, Steven Colbert made fun of Republicans who complained that hurricane Sandy was  “good luck” for Obama, imitating their annoyance with, “’…Sandy?  What kind of a name is that? Are you a dude storm or a lady storm?’”  Yes folks, Steven Colbert is hip to intersex humor (intersex people, fyi, are born with sex… Continue Reading

Hida speaking in NYC for Intersex Awareness Day, October 26th

Hida will be speaking at two events in New York City in October:   Intersex Awareness Day Workshop Friday, October 26 New York University NYU Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life Global Center, Room 383 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM What is intersex, and why is intersex identity and inclusion important? Join us for… Continue Reading

Hida speaking at U.Conn. in Storrs on Friday, October 12

Lecture on Intersexuality Friday, October 12, 2012 12pm – 1:30pm Storrs Campus Rainbow Center @ UConn, Student Union 403 Admission Fee: Free and open to all The Rainbow Center is pleased to host Hida Viloria, an expert educator on the topic of intersex, which is rarely talked about in society, let alone campus communities. Hida… Continue Reading

Video: Hida featured in Intersexion documentary

Trailer for the 2012 documentary Intersexion, featuring yours truly & tons of other rad intersex folks.  It hasn’t shown in the US yet, but it’s already won the Best Documentary Award at New Zealand’s Edge Film Festival, where it’s from, and is researched and presented by pioneering New Zealand intersex activist Mani Mitchell, who I’m… Continue Reading

Hida receives ILGA Scholarship to Conference in Sweden

Hida receives ILGA Scholarship to Conference in Sweden

Hida has received a scholarship from ILGA — the world’s largest LGBTI organization, which is “Intersex”/”I” inclusive — to attend both their Intersex Forum & their Annual World Conference in Stockholm, Sweden this December. Yay for raising more Intersex awareness & connecting with LGBTI allies. Continue Reading

Interesting fact: At approx. 1.7% of the population, Intersex people are as common as red-heads. “Everyone’s met an intersex person, you just may not know you have.”