Today is Intersex Solidarity Day, and what better way to learn to be a good ally to intersex people than through learning about their perspectives and experiences.
Intersex people — those have physical attributes that are associated with more than one sex — represent an estimated 1.7 percent of the population. But they’re underrepresented in media. These independent films provide experiences from all across the globe, giving an important voice to underrepresented people, their stories and current struggles.
In 2005, intersex ally Joelle Circe-Laramee recognized the first-ever Intersex Day of Solidarity. She invited allies and organizations to commemorate the life of Herculine Barbin, an intersex pioneer who died in 1868 by suicide as a result of her mistreatment as an intersex person. Laramie also asked allies to speak out against genital mutilation, a medical practice commonly inflicted on intersex people near their time of birth.
Intersex Solidarity Day is a chance to honor the intersex people who have been fighting for human equality and the ways they made the public more aware of the disparities intersex people face when trying to maintain bodily autonomy in the healthcare system.
One can honor this day by having a small, COVID-safe gathering to learn more about this topic. These films make it easy to plan a movie night with other progressive and social justice-minded pals — pass the popcorn and the Kleenex, please.
She’s Not a Boy (2018), directed by Robert Tokanel and Yuhong Pang
She’s Not a Boy documents the life of Tatenda Ngwaru — an intersex woman who founded True Identity, the first intersex organization in Zimbabwe — as she immigrated from Zimbabwe to the United States.
The film shows her struggles with self-acceptance in a country where queerness and intersex identity are criminalized. After fleeing her homeland for New York City, she continued fighting healthcare disparities. She discovered that finding appropriate care from health service professionals is very difficult, as many medical professionals have varied opinions on how to deal with intersex people.
This documentary shows her journey as she raises awareness about intersex identity through her passionate activism, public talks, and media posts about her experiences.
Being Impossible (2018), directed by Patricia Ortega
Originally released as Yo, Imposible (Being Impossible), this Venezuelan drama features actress Lucia Bedoya as Ariel, a 20-year-old woman working as a seamstress. She experiences sex as painful and endures harassment at work. As she learns about and comes to terms with her unique body, she navigates familial and societal pressures, including her mother’s pressure to marry and have children.
This stunningly shot film (with English subtitles) examines issues of self-worth and acceptance — an important look at the struggle for identity through gender.
Stories of Intersex and Faith (2019), directed by Paul van Ness
Stories of Intersex and Faith presents five light-skinned intersex individuals, ranging from young adult to middle age, who represent a mix of genders. Caught between politics, medicine, and religion, they share their struggles in a society where not everyone accepts gender variance or people who don’t fit neatly into the gender binary.
This documentary shares these intersex individuals’ unique perspectives on identity in a time when gender identity has become more widely accepted and explored by the general populace.
Metamorphosis (2019), directed by J.E. Tiglao
This Korean drama features a young male-presenting character, Adam, who has his first menstrual cycle. Adam discovers he was born intersex and has to come to terms with what this means and how it affects him.
The film shows him in a painful transformation from the identity he projects towards others into how he truly views himself. He fights fate — struggling with his relation to gender, identity, and desire —while developing a growing understanding of his own complexities.
Ponyboi (2019), directed by River Gallo and Sade Clacken Joseph
Ponyboi is a short film set in New Jersey, featuring a runaway Latinx sex worker who searches for life and joy.
Ponyboi (played by director River Gallo) deals with discrimination, misgendering, classism, and the discovery of self-worth as they strive to earn enough to leave their working-class neighborhood and rekindle renewed chances for love.
This short touches on how Ponyboi can experience his humanity, love, loss, desire, hope, and dreams with so many factors working against him.
If you’d like to get off the screen and become a better advocate and ally to intersex folks, check out or donate to the inclusive children’s organization, Gender Spectrum; the intersex medical advocacy groups, the Intersex Society of North America and the Intersex Justice Project.