Pidgeon Pagonis

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Pidgeon Pagonis
Pidgeon Pagonis.jpg
Born1986 (age 33–34)[1]
Alma materDePaul University[3][1]
Known forIntersex activism

Pidgeon Pagonis (born 1986) is an American intersex activist, writer, artist, and consultant.[4] They are an advocate for intersex human rights and against nonconsensual intersex medical interventions.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Pagonis was born in 1986 in Chicago, Illinois,[1] and has Mexican and Greek ancestry.[4] As a child, Pagonis, who identifies as "queer" and nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns,[5][6] was diagnosed with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS).[7] They were not told of this condition, but instead were raised as a girl, told that they had ovarian cancer (when they in fact had no ovaries, but internal testes), and subjected to a series of surgeries to alter their genitalia.[2][7][5]

They learned about intersex traits during their freshman year in college, while attending a lecture at DePaul University. They subsequently accessed their own medical records, and learned the truth about their condition.[7][5] In 2020, they learned that their AIS diagnosis was incorrect and that they have another intersex variation, as their low levels of estrogen and osteopenia might have indicated.[8][9]

Pagonis graduated from DePaul with bachelor's and master's degrees in women and gender studies.[1]


Pagonis joined the advocacy organization interACT a few years after discovering they were intersex.[7] They became the leadership coordinator of the youth program at interACT.[7] In 2013, Pagonis testified with Mauro Cabral, Natasha Jiménez and Paula Sandrine Machado before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about the medical interventions they were subjected to as an intersex child.[10][11] They were also featured in the 2012 documentary Intersexion.[1]

In 2014, Pagonis created a documentary of their own, The Son They Never Had: Growing Up Intersex, which they tour around the country, advocating against nonconsensual "corrective surgeries".[1][12] This work was published in a bioethics journal, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics.[13][14] The Son They Never Had was also shown at the Leeds Queer Film Festival in the UK in March 2017.[15]

In 2015, Pagonis created the hashtag campaign #intersexstories for Intersex Awareness Day. The campaign attracted a huge following, with many intersex people sharing their stories.[2][16] Pagonis also appeared in a BuzzFeed video about intersex bodies, identities and experiences.[17][18]

Pagonis is a writer for Everyday Feminism, where they have addressed subjects including anti-black racism in the intersex community, interviewing Sean Saifa Wall and Lynnell Stephani Long ,[19] and debate over the inclusion of intersex people in the LGBTQA acronym.[6]

Pagonis appeared in a 2016 episode of the television series Transparent. They lobbied for the part when meeting show creator Jill Soloway at a White House awards ceremony.[4]

Pagonis appeared on the cover of the January 2017 National Geographic "Gender Revolution" issue. They were one of the intersex activists who wrote in expressing concern that being intersex was defined by the magazine as a disorder. National Geographic responded to reader pressure by updating the definition in the online issue.[20][21]

In June 2017, Pagonis appeared in a video for Teen Vogue alongside fellow intersex advocates Emily Quinn and Hanne Gaby Odiele, explaining what it means to be intersex.[22]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Pagonis was one of nine LGBT artists honored as an Obama White House Champion of Change in 2015.[23] They were also one of "30 Under 30" honored by the Windy City Times in 2013.[3]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Pagonis, Pidgeon (April 2017). "First Do Harm: How Intersex Kids Are Hurt by those Who Have Taken the Hippocratic Oath". Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity. 5 (1): 40–51. ISSN 2203-3114.
  • Pagonis, Pidgeon (August 2016). "6 Free or Affordable Tips for Intersex People Trying to Get By". Everyday Feminism.
  • Davis, Georgiann; Pagonis, Pidgeon (August 2016). "Bias Against Intersex Olympics Athletes Is What's Unfair – Not These Athletes' Bodies". Everyday Feminism.
  • Pagonis, Pidgeon (June 2016). "6 Things Intersex Folks Need to Know About How We Perpetuate Anti-Black Racism". Everyday Feminism.
  • Pagonis, Pidgeon (June 2016). "7 Ways Adding 'I' to the LGBTQA+ Acronym Can Miss the Point". Everyday Feminism.
  • Pagonis, Pidgeon (2015). "The Son They Never Had". Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics. 5 (2): 103–106.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Carrie Maxwell (October 26, 2016). "Pidgeon Pagonis: On their film, White House visit, being on 'Transparent'". Windy City Times. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Julie Compton (May 31, 2016). "OutFront: Activist Brings Intersex Rights to Forefront". NBC News. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Windy City Times to present 30 Under 30 awards". Windy City Times. June 26, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Interview: Intersex Activist and Artist Pidgeon Pagonis". The Queer AV. October 26, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Kat Kinsman (April 15, 2014). "Intersex dating: Finding love across the intersection". CNN. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Pidgeon Pagonis (June 29, 2016). "7 Ways Adding 'I' to the LGBTQA+ Acronym Can Miss the Point". Everyday Feminism. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e Hilary Weaver (August 10, 2016). "Meet Chicago's White-House-Honored Intersex Activist, Pidgeon Pagonis". Paper. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  8. ^ "". Twitter. Retrieved July 9, 2020. External link in |title= (help)
  9. ^ Kelleher, Patrick (July 10, 2020). "Intersex activist reclaims the word hermaphrodite and shares the heartwrenching story of learning their medical history". PinkNews. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  10. ^ "The Pursuit of Happiness in Our Original Beautiful Bodies: Pidgeon Pagonis' Recent Testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights". interACT. April 8, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Workman, Michael (May 4, 2017). "The Conversation: Pidgeon Pagonis and the Fight for Intersex Rights". Newcity. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  12. ^ Leah Dunlevy (October 14, 2016). "Intersex activist calls for increased awareness about 'corrective surgeries'". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  13. ^ Georgiann Davis; Pidgeon Pagonis (2015). "Normalizing Intersex: The Transformative Power of Stories". Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics. 5 (2): 103–106.
  14. ^ Pidgeon Pagonis (2016). "The Son They Never Had". Voices: Personal Stories from the Pages of NIB (PDF). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 18–21. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  15. ^ "Leeds Queer Film Festival 2017 Film Programme". Leeds Queer Film Festival. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  16. ^ Sarah Karlan (October 27, 2015). "People Took To Twitter To Share Their Deeply Personal #IntersexStories". BuzzFeed. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  17. ^ Lizz Warner; Jen Ruggirello (March 28, 2015). "What It's Like To Be Intersex". BuzzFeed. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  18. ^ Daniela Capistrano (April 22, 2015). "7 Up-and-Coming Stars Who Are Changing How We Think About Gender". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  19. ^ Pidgeon Pagonis (June 3, 2016). "6 Things Intersex Folks Need to Know About How We Perpetuate Anti-Black Racism". Everyday Feminism. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  20. ^ "Together We Fixed it: De-Pathologization Win in Nat'l Geographic!". Intersex Campaign for Equality. December 25, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  21. ^ "Our Gender Issue Prompted Many Comments. Here We Respond". National Geographic. December 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  22. ^ Kheraj, Evaan; Papisova, Vera (June 27, 2017). "What It Means to Be Intersex". Teen Vogue. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  23. ^ Aditi Hardikar (December 7, 2015). "Making Art to Make a Change: Championing LGBT Artists Across the Country". Obama White House archive. Retrieved January 20, 2017.

External links[edit]