Hida Viloria

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Hida Viloria
Born May 1968 (age 48)
New York City, New York, United States
Nationality American
Occupation Writer, Human Rights Activist
Known for Early Gender fluid, Intersex activist and author
Website hidaviloria.com

Hida Viloria (born May 1968) is a Latinx intersex American writer,[1] activist and author of the upcoming memoir Born Both (Hatchette Book Group, March 2017). Viloria uses "s/he" and "he/r" pronouns to acknowledge he/r identity as an intersex, gender fluid feminist. He/r father, a Colombian physician, and mother, a Venezuelan ex-school teacher, gave her the right to bodily autonomy by choosing to register and raise he/r as female without subjecting he/r to medically unnecessary "normalizing" genital surgeries, or intersex genital mutilation (IGM).[2]

Education and Career[edit]

Viloria attended Wesleyan University, and later transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where s/he graduated with high honors and high distinction with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Gender and Sexuality.[citation needed] S/he is the author of the upcoming, Born Both: An Intersex Life (Hatchette Book Group, March, 2017), and has been published extensively on intersectional intersex issues such Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM), its harms, heteronormative imperatives and similarities to FGM, discrimination against intersex women in sports, racism, sexuality, legal gender recognition, and gender identity, in venues such as The Advocate, Ms., The New York Times, The American Journal of Bioethics, the Global Herald, CNN.com, and others, and in her blog ''Intersex and Out. In January, 2016, h/er essay, “What’s In a Name: Intersex and Identity”, was published in the college curriculum textbook, Queer: A Reader for Writers, by Oxford University Press.

Viloria has educated extensively about intersex and non-binary gender issues as as a frequent lecturer, consultant (Human Rights Watch, United Nations OHCHR, United Nations Free & Equal Campaign, Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy, IOC...), and on television, radio (The Oprah Winfrey Show, HuffPost Live, 20/20, Aljazeera, BBC Radio, KPFA) and film (Gendernauts, One in 2000, Intersexion), and s/he continues to advocate for equality and human rights for intersex and non-binary people as Chairperson of the Organisation Intersex International (OII), the world's first international intersex advocacy organization, and Founder and Executive Director of its American Affiliate OII-USA, a.k.a. the Intersex Campaign for Equality.

Early Activism[edit]

In 1996, Viloria participated in the first international intersex retreat. S/he reports that, eager to meet people like he/rself, instead s/he “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.”[3][4] In 1997, Viloria appeared in the first U.S. documentary about intersex people, Hermaphrodites Speak!,[5] and in the groundbreaking, award winning documentary Gendernauts in 1999, where s/he spoke about being intersex and also what is today known as non-binary or genderqueer, although the terms weren't in use yet at the time.[6]} In 2002, Viloria was interviewed on 20/20.[7][8] Following the show's airing, Viloria published an article on the controversy over the term

Hida testified at the first government hearing on intersex human rights, 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] S/he also continued to promote intersex visibility, through appearances in the award-winning documentaries 'One in 2000 (2006), Intersexion (2012), and on television, IN 2007, s/he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where s/he 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?'" S/he went on to say "I have both sides."[10][11]

In 2007, Viloria critiqued the medical pathologization of intersex people with the label, "Disorders of Sex Development"/"DSD", and the homophobic and transphobic reasoning behind the replacement of 'intersex' with DSD in 2006, in medical literature and diagnostics. S/he also argued that being raised to define oneself as disordered is psychologically harmful to intersex youth:

"... referring to us as having 'disorders' than associating with a label supported by homosexuals and transsexuals, I do not believe adopting a pathologizing label to distance ourselves from these groups is a solution, to say the least.... I know that it would have harmed my self-esteem to be raised under a term which named my difference a 'disorder.' Even complete ignorance about what to call myself was preferable as I was able to form positive beliefs about my unique qualities."

— Hida Viloria[12]

Global Activism[edit]

In 2010, after lobbying for equal rights for intersex female athletes independently on television [13] and in print, Viloria joined the Organisation Intersex International (OII), the first international intersex advocacy organization, was appointed Human Rights Spokesperson, and continued lobbying as such. In February 2010, Viloria authored a petition to the International Olympic Committee demanding that intersex women athletes to be allowed to compete as is, and be de-pathologized,[14] resulting in Viloria being invited to participate in the International Olympic Committee’s October 2010 meeting of experts on intersex women in sports, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where s/he lobbied against adopting regulations which require intersex female athletes to undergo medically unnecessary medical procedures in order to compete as women, and against athletes being referred to as individuals with "disorders of sex development".[15]

In 2011, Viloria was voted Chairperson of the Organization Intersex International upon founder Curtis Hinkle's retirement. In 2012, s/he spearheaded the first unified, global call for human rights by and for intersex people, in a letter signed by thirty leading intersex advocacy organizations, to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights .[16] Viloria was 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 2013, in Malta.[17] On Human Rights Day, 2013, Viloria's human rights activism was acknowledged by the United Nations OHCHR, when s/he became the first openly intersex person to speak at the U.N., by invitation, at the event "Sport Comes Out Against Homophobia", along with fellow "out" pioneers, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, and NBA player Jason Collins.[18][19] In September 2015, the UN's Free & Equal Campaign for Equality recognized Viloria's contributions to the production of their groundbreaking Intersex Fact Sheet resource with a video featuring Viloria in which s/he discusses the fact that the vast majority of intersex people are still not "out" as intersex.[20]

National Activism[edit]

In 2011, Hida founded the American affiliate of OII, OII-USA, aka The Intersex Campaign for Equality, in order to work for equality and human rights for intersex Americans. In December, 2011, Viloria contacted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to request inclusion of intersex people in human rights protocols and protections, receiving a response from the U.S. Department of State (in early 2012).[21]

Viloria continued to publish on and lobby against discrimination of intersex women athletes, such an article co-authored with Spanish hurdler Maria José Martínez-Patiño,.[22] Viloria has argued that Olympic sex testing is applied in a way that targets only 'butch' women, those who are "masculine looking".[23][24] Upon the release of the I.O.C.'s final regulations for intersex women with hyperandrogenism in 2012, s/he collaborated on an opinion piece with scholar Georgiann Davis[25] and also told The New York Times 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."[26]

In 2013, Viloria authored the groundbreaking resource Your Beautiful Child: Information for Parents,[27] and continues to advocate for human rights for intersex people as a frequent lecturer, consultant, and in numerous radio [28] and television interviews, in Spanish [29] as well as English.[30][31] In 2015, s/he was featured in the books Lichen, a sound and photographic work on the theme of body and gender, by French artist Pierre Redon, and The Human Agenda: Conversations about Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity,[32] with trans comedian Ian Harvie and others, and in videos for the United Nations' Free & Equal Campaign for LGBT Equality,[33] and for the web-based project Gender Talents, by artist Carlos Motta, that engages movements and discourses for gender self-determination within trans and intersex communities.[34]

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.[35][36][37][38]


  1. ^ http://hidaviloria.com/about/articles-essays-other-published-work-by-hida-viloria/
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Intersexion, Ponsonby Productions Limited, 2002
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Hermaphrodites Speak! (1997) Intersex Society of North America. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwSOngdR7kM. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  6. ^ E.D. Hida Viloria in the Groundbreaking GENDERNAUTS (April 23, 2013) http://oii-usa.org/3306/e-d-hida-viloria-in-the-groundbreaking-gendernauts/. Retrieved 23 June 2106.
  7. ^ "Hida Viloria comes out as intersex and non-binary on 20/20". Organization Intersex International. 14 March 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Viloria, Hida (18 September 2009). "Commentary: My life as a 'Mighty Hermaphrodite'". CNN. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  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. ^ Oprah, Oprah, 2007
  11. ^ What Intersex Local Hida Viloria Didn't Tell Oprah: How Hermaph-tivists Pander To Homophobes, SF Weekly, October 3, 2007
  12. ^ Viloria, Hida. "Hida Viloria Tells Us What She Really Thinks". sfweekly.com. SF Weekly. Retrieved June 4, 2016. 
  13. ^ Inside Edition. "Hermaphrodite Runner" (September 16, 2009). http://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=9HwLfvKPAZY&video_referrer=watch&ns=1. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  14. ^ OII’s Petition to the IOC: Depathologization & Fair Policies for Intersex Athletes (February 25, 2010). http://oii-usa.org/3062/oiis-petition-to-the-international-olympic-committee-ioc/
  15. ^ 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/
  16. ^ http://oii-usa.org/1040/oii-usa-director-hida-vilorias-call-inclusion-intersex-human-rights-today-united-nations-high-commissioner-human-rights-navi-pillay//
  17. ^ 3rd International Intersex Forum in Malta, ILGA-Europe, 22 July 2013
  18. ^ Sport Comes Out Against Homophobia, UN Live United Nations TV, December 10, 2013
  19. ^ At UN human rights event, Navratilova and Collins decry homophobic violence, United Nations UN News Centre, December 10, 2013
  20. ^ What Does It Mean To Be Intersex? United Nations Free & Equal, September 4, 2015
  21. ^ OII receives reply from US Department of State to OII Chairperson Hida Viloria's letter asking for intersex inclusion in LGBTI - not LGBT-only - global human rights efforts OII-USA, February 23, 2012
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Well, Is She Or Isn't She?, SI, September 7, 2009
  24. ^ Is sex testing in the Olympics a fool's errand? Jon Bardin in Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2012
  25. ^ Olympics’ New Hormone Regulations: Judged By How You Look, Hida Viloria and Georgiann Davis in Ms. Magazine, July 30, 2012
  26. ^ Viloria, Hida. Letters to the Editor. The New York Times (June 23, 2012).
  27. ^ Your Beautiful Child: Information for Parents OII-USA, May 16, 2013
  28. ^ World Have Your Say
  29. ^ Caso Cerrado (Case ClosedBebé intersexual #700, Caso Cerrado, October 2013
  30. ^ Is being intersex a third gender?, Huffington Post Live, November 2013
  31. ^ http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409031709-0024124
  32. ^ http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24913580-the-human-agenda
  33. ^ https://www.unfe.org/en/actions/intersex
  34. ^ http://gendertalents.info/portrait/hida-viloria-organization-intersex-international-oii-los-angeles/
  35. ^ Germany’s Third Gender Law Fails on Equality, The Advocate, November 2013
  36. ^ Germany’s Third Gender Law: Not What Intersex People Most Need, The Global Herald, November 2013
  37. ^ Why We Must Protect Intersex Babies, The Advocate, September 27, 2013
  38. ^ Cosmetic Genital Surgery/Sex Re-assignment of Intersex Babies is wrong: Case Closed, Hida Viloria, September 2013

External links[edit]