On a small mission in the heart of the central Angola highlands, Carolyn Parson’s grandfather delivered her, introducing a healthy girl to a growing family. A healthy and happy baby, she grew to be a bright, curious, and easy going child.
As an energetic 11 year old, Carolyn began a journey that would radically change her life. Her apparently female body started to change. Her muscles began to develop, hair started growing on her body, her clitoris and labia began enlarging. She began to be very shy of her body and never let anyone know what was happening.
Cheryl Chase was our founder. Her ongoing efforts to improve the social and medical treatment of intersexed people have been recognized with the year 2000 Felipa de Souza Human Rights Award, and in diverse publications and numerous television and radio programs including Newsweek, the New York Times, NPR’s Fresh Air, NBC Dateline, ethicist Alice Dreger’s Intersex in the Age of Ethics, social psychologist Suzanne Kessler’s Lessons from the Intersexed, molecular biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling’s Sexing the Body, and Pulitzer Prize winning medical writer Natalie Angier’s bestseller, Woman: An Intimate Geography.
Christine Feick, worked with ISNA as a social work intern to create educational materials for counseling professionals and less harmful medical protocols. Christine has since graduated from the MSW program at University of Michigan. She brought to ISNA clinical experience in outreach and support groups with the University of Michigan’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs office, as a student residence advisor at University of Michigan, and a support group for sex workers created as an independent study.
Cindy Stone earned her bachelor’s and masters degrees in Education from Indiana University. She has worked at her alma mater as an administrator and instructor for the past 26 years. Cindy was born looking like other baby girls, and her intersex syndrome was not fully diagnosed until she was an adult in her 30’s. She has the complete form of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome passed on genetically from her mother. Had she not become inquisitive on her own at age 34 about her medical needs, she might have developed gonadal cancer. She was unaware that her doctors lied to her as a teenager withholding critical information about her syndrome.
Colleen Kiernan was ISNA’s Research and Program Assistant during the year between completing her undergraduate degree and starting medical school. Colleen graduated with High Honors from Michigan State University in 2005 with degrees from the Honors College and Science and Technology Studies, and with course specializations in Bioethics, Humanities, and Society, and Peace and Justice Studies. Her interests focus on the intersection of public health and human rights work. A native of Joliet, Illinois, Colleen has worked as a volunteer sex educator for the Michigan’s Ingham County Health Department, focusing on young people aged 11-21, and as a research assistant for an educational training grant at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. In 2003 she decided to take a year’s absence from school to do volunteer work in Tanzania, where she functioned as a caregiver in a home for children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic, and as teaching assistant in a school for children with autism. She also spent several months in South Africa doing clinical research and patient education at the Perinatal HIV Research Unit of the Chris-Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. In the summer of 2005, in addition to her duties at ISNA, Colleen performed laboratory-based research on pediatric neuroblastoma at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.
David Cameron attended his first ISNA support group meeting in 1995 and within the year became ISNA’s first volunteer! He served as a board member from Dec. ’02 through Dec. ’05. As a person with XXY sex chromosomes, David has written about his experience in Hermaphrodites with Attitude, Chrysalis, and Alice Dreger’s book Intersex In the Age of Ethics. As an adult, David was hormonally masculinized by testosterone therapy without his “informed” consent.
Debbie Rode Hartman is a single mother raising her intersexed child who had gender re-assignment surgery at 11 weeks. She is an active advocate for ISNA and has participated in numerous panels about intersex including presentations to the National Organization of Women and the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Piscataway New Jersey. She was interviewed in Canada SexTV’s full-length feature on intersex Redefining Sex and has been interviewed by numerous publications including the San Francisco Chronicle and the New Haven Advocate. She is featured in Total Patient Care, ISNA’s video on the practical application of new methodologies in the treatment of intersexed children. Visit her website on intersex and other special needs.
Ellen Feder is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at American University, where she also teaches in the program in Women and Gender Studies. She has been an active member of ISNA since 1999, when she first presented a paper at the American Philosophical Association that considered the failure of bioethicists to intervene in the medical management of intersex. She has since published work resulting from interviews she conducted with parents of children with intersex, and was a member of the Hastings Center working group, “Surgically Shaping Children.” She is
Emi Koyama worked for ISNA from 2001-2002 first as an intern and then as a staff activist. With her experiences at ISNA, Emi went on to found and direct Intersex Initiative, an intersex advocacy and activist group based in Portland, Oregon. She also lectures at college campuses around the country on various topics, including intersex, domestic violence, disability theory, and the sex workers’ movement. Emi also has a personal website.