ISNA Founding Executive Director to Retire

Classification: News

PETALUMA, CA July 15, 2002 - Cheryl Chase, the founding Executive Director of Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) announced that she plans to retire from her position by December 31, 2002. Chase created ISNA in 1993 as a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to systematic change within the medical community to end shame, secrecy and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with atypical reproductive anatomies.

"After nearly ten years, I am unspeakably proud of the work ISNA has accomplished in our efforts to build a world free of shame, secrecy and unwanted genital surgeries," Chase said. "I look to the future knowing that ISNA will continue to impact public education and medical policy with its patient-centered system of care."

"ISNA's patient-centered approach is simple: the long-term needs of a person with an intersex condition come first; not the needs of the medical establishment, nor society's prejudices," added Chase.

"Through Cheryl's vision and ISNA's work over the last decade, we have ended the age of people with intersex being silent, transitory, invisible" said Alice Dreger, Chair of ISNA's Board of Directors. "Now when people hear about intersex, they hear directly from people living with intersex. They may also hear from their parents, and from more and more doctors who have been emboldened by ISNA to speak out on behalf of a patient-centered system of care."

"We have all been blessed to work so closely with Cheryl and will welcome her transition onto the Board of Directors," said Julie Dorf, ISNA's Treasurer. "Cheryl is leaving the organization in strong financial health and poised to continue to build on the work of the last ten years until a patient-centered system of care is realized."

Under Chase's leadership, ISNA has managed to put intersex issues on the map.

Chase, winner of the 2000 Felipa de Souza Human Rights Award, has been featured in 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.

In 1997 Chase produced Hermaphrodites Speak!, the first documentary in which intersex people speak openly about their personal experience. In 1999, the Supreme Court of Colombia issued an historic decision establishing human rights protections for people born intersex, leaning heavily on Chase's 10,000 word amicus brief. A scholar as well as a patient advocate, Chase has by invitation delivered Grand Round presentations at UCLA, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Michigan State University, and University of Michigan. Her presentation "Sexual Ambiguity: The Patient-Centered Approach" at the 2000 meeting of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society is considered an unprecedented patient-led breakthrough in medical reform. She also recently presented the patient-centered model of care to the first ever World Congress on Hormonal Genetic Basis of Sexual Differentiation Disorders and met with the National Institutes of Health to advise on intersex research. Her work has also been published in the Journal of Urology, Journal of Clinical Ethics, Gay and Lesbian Quarterly, and Pediatric Nursing.