Hida Viloria

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Hida Viloria
Born May 1968
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation Writer
Known for Intersex activist and educator
Television Caso Cerrado (2013), Oprah (2007)[1] 20/20 (2002),
Montel Williams (1998)[2]

Hida Viloria (born May 1968 in New York City) is a Latina intersex writer, spokesperson, activist and chairperson of the Organisation Intersex International and the founding director of OII-USA in February 2011.[3] Her father, a Colombian physician, and mother, a Venezuelan ex-school teacher, chose not to subject her to 'normalizing' genital surgeries.[4]

Education and Career[edit]

Viloria attended Wesleyan University, and later transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with high honors and high distinction with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Gender and Sexuality.[citation needed] She writes for The Global Herald and as a freelancer in publications such as The Advocate. She continues to advocate for human rights for intersex people as Chairperson of the Organisation Intersex International, and to promote intersex visibility in the media and in her blog Intersex and Out on Tumblr.


In 1996, Viloria participated in the first international intersex retreat. She reports that, eager to meet people like herself, instead she “met people who’d been traumatized and physically damaged by cosmetic genital surgeries and hormone treatments they’d been subjected to in infancy and childhood, and it moved me to become an intersex activist.”[5][6] In 1997, Viloria appeared in the first U.S. documentary about intersex people, Hermaphrodites Speak![7] In 1998, Viloria appeared in a groundbreaking interview on the Montel Williams show.[2] In 1999 she appeared in Monika Treut's movie Gendernauts, and spoke about being intersex and also what is today known as genderqueer, although the word wasn't in use at the time. In 2002 Viloria was interviewed on 20/20.[8]

Hida Viloria testified before the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in 2004, on the need to ban medically unnecessary cosmetic genital surgeries on intersex infants and children.[9]

In 2007, Viloria was interviewed by Oprah where she likened society's lack of understanding of intersex people to what people of mixed African-American and caucasian race sometimes experience, saying, "Society pressures you to choose sides, just like they pressure mixed race people to decide, you know... 'Are you really black? Are you really white?'" She went on to say "I have both sides."[1][10]

Hida Viloria lobbied for the equal rights of South African track star Caster Semenya, who was stripped of her right to compete as a woman in August 2009, after gender verification testing revealed she may be intersex. She garnered international support for the rights of intersex female athletes, calling newly proposed athletic regulations for intersex women "unfair and discriminatory",[11] and telling Inside Edition she believed Semenya was tested “simply because she didn’t make more of an effort to look like society’s ideas of female.”[12] In October 2010, Hida Viloria served on the International Olympic Committee’s meeting of experts on intersex women in sports in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she lobbied against adopting regulations which require intersex female athletes to undergo medically unnecessary medical procedures in order to compete as women.[13]

With Spanish hurdler Maria José Martínez-Patiño,[14] Viloria has argued that Olympic sex testing is applied in a way that targets only 'butch' women, those who are "masculine looking".[15][16] Upon the release of the I.O.C.'s final regulations for intersex women with hyperandrogenism in 2012, she collaborated on an opinion piece with scholar Georgiann Davis[17] and also told The New York Times Sports Editor that the issues for intersex athletes remain unresolved: "Many athletes have medical differences that give them a competitive edge but are not asked to have medical interventions to “remove” the advantage.... The real issue is not fairness, but that certain athletes are not accepted as real women because of their appearance."[18]

In recent times, she has appeared in the documentary Intersexion (2012), directed by Grant Lahood,[5] BBC Radio interviews[19] Caso Cerrado (Case Closed[20] and an intersex panel at The Huffington Post.[21] Viloria was also one of three intersex people selected by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association's ILGA-Europe affiliate to co-organize the third International Intersex Forum in November/December 2013.[22]

On December 10th, International Human Rights Day 2013, Viloria became the first openly intersex person to speak at the United Nations, by invitation, on the panel for the event "Sport Comes Out Against Homophobia", with tennis legend Martina Navratilova, and NBA player Jason Collins. [23][24]

Birth Registrations and Normalizing Surgeries[edit]

With the advent of a new German law assigning visibly intersex infants to an 'indeterminate' gender, Viloria has argued that this approach to birth registrations fails to provide adequate human rights for intersex people, and fails to address the most critical need: for an end to normalizing surgical and hormonal interventions on infants and children.[25][26][27][28]


  1. ^ a b Oprah, Oprah, 2007
  2. ^ a b Montel Williams, Montel Williams 1998
  3. ^ Welcome to OII-USA, promoting human rights and bodily integrity for intersex people!, OII-USA, January 15, 2012
  4. ^ Viloria, Hida (September 27, 2011). Dispelling The Myths: My Experience Growing Up Intersex and Au Naturel. http://www.bodieslikeours.org/index.php/our-lives/22-hida-new-story Bodies Like Ours. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b Intersexion, Ponsonby Productions Limited, 2002
  6. ^ Viloria, Hida (April 11, 2010). Gender Rules in Sport – Leveling The Playing Field, Or Reversed Doping? (April 11, 2010). The Global Herald. http://theglobalherald.com/opinion-gender-rules-in-sport-leveling-the-playing-field-or-reversed-doping/14837/. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  7. ^ Hermaphrodites Speak! (1997) Intersex Society of North America. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwSOngdR7kM. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  8. ^ 20/20. "Controversy Over Operating to Change Ambiguous Genitalia” (April 19, 2002). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xv1yk2Va9qc. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  9. ^ Patel, Sunil (November 25, 2005). San Francisco Human Rights Commission on Intersex (pdf). Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria. http://www.glhv.org.au/report/san-francisco-human-rights-commission-intersex-pdf. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  10. ^ What Intersex Local Hida Viloria Didn't Tell Oprah: How Hermaph-tivists Pander To Homophobes, SF Weekly, October 3, 2007
  11. ^ Brigham, Roger (March 11, 2010). The IOC's unkind cuts. Bay Area Reporter. http://oii.org.au/7291/bay-area-reporter-iocs-unkind-cuts/
  12. ^ Inside Edition. "Hermaphrodite Runner" (September 16, 2009). http://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=9HwLfvKPAZY&video_referrer=watch&ns=1. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  13. ^ Viloria, Hida (April 11, 2010). Gender Rules in Sport – Leveling The Playing Field, Or Reversed Doping? (April 11, 2010). The Global Herald. http://theglobalherald.com/opinion-gender-rules-in-sport-leveling-the-playing-field-or-reversed-doping/14837/
  14. ^ Well, Is She Or Isn't She?, SI, September 7, 2009
  15. ^ Reexamining Rationales of “Fairness”: An Athlete and Insider's Perspective on the New Policies on Hyperandrogenism in Elite Female Athletes, The American Journal of Bioethics, Volume 12, Issue 7, 2012.
  16. ^ Is sex testing in the Olympics a fool's errand? Jon Bardin in Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2012
  17. ^ Olympics’ New Hormone Regulations: Judged By How You Look, Hida Viloria and Georgiann Davis in Ms. Magazine, July 30, 2012
  18. ^ Viloria, Hida. Letters to the Editor. The New York Times (June 23, 2012).
  19. ^ World Have Your Say, BBC Radio, November 2013
  20. ^ Bebé intersexual #700, Caso Cerrado, October 2013
  21. ^ Is being intersex a third gender?, Huffington Post Live, November 2013
  22. ^ 3rd International Intersex Forum in Malta, ILGA-Europe, 22 July 2013
  23. ^ Sport Comes Out Against Homophobia, UN Live United Nations TV, December 10, 2013
  24. ^ At UN human rights event, Navratilova and Collins decry homophobic violence, United Nations UN News Centre, December 10, 2013
  25. ^ Germany’s Third Gender Law Fails on Equality, The Advocate, November 2013
  26. ^ Germany’s Third Gender Law: Not What Intersex People Most Need, The Global Herald, November 2013
  27. ^ Why We Must Protect Intersex Babies, The Advocate, September 27, 2013
  28. ^ Cosmetic Genital Surgery/Sex Re-assignment of Intersex Babies is wrong: Case Closed, Hida Viloria, September 2013

External links[edit]