Posts

Club Q Tragedy Recognition

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A Message From InterConnect Dear InterConnect Community,   We are heartbroken, outraged, and horrified by the deadly attack on Club Q in Colorado Springs last Saturday night where 5 people lost their lives and at least 18 were injured. As an organization of intersex people, we deeply value the power and belonging of community spaces, and recognize just how terrifying and tragic it is for such unspeakable violence to devestate a nightclub that many have described as one of the few places they felt safe to be themselves alongside chosen family. We want to remember and recognize the five individuals whose lives were cut devastatingly short by this act of violence and hatred. You can read more about their lives, as well as words of remembrance .   Daniel Aston 28 (he/him) Kelly Loving 40 (she/her) Ashley Paugh 35 (she/ her) Raymond Green Vance 22 (he/him) Derrick Rump 38 (he/him) We send love, support, and care to all our InterConnect community during this terrible time, and especially to

In-Person Conference Is Just Two Weeks Away!

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Dear InterConnect Community, Our 2022 in-person Summer Conference in Niagara Falls is just two weeks away! If you are attending in person, we hope you pack a rain slicker for the Maid of the Mist and a whole lot of enthusiasm! Our return to an in-person conference has been long-anticipated, and we are very excited to be gathering together once again. If you cannot attend in person, be certain to register for our virtual conference where several sessions will be offered remotely so you can still participate in all of the fun, learning and education. Virtual registration will be open through Sunday 7/24 and you will need to register to attend the sessions. While you won’t be able to join in the fun of our trip to Maid of the Mist or our Carnival Gala on Saturday, the virtual lobby will be open on Friday and Saturday night for some fun hangout time. We hope to see you there! You can also follow along on IG (@interconnect_support) and TikTok (@interconnect_)! Along with all the fun and a

Conference Speaker spotlight: Kimberly Zieselman

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  Kimberly Zieselman, JD   (She/Her) is an American intersex woman, lawyer and human rights advocate with more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and advocacy including Director of Government Relations for Boston Children’s Hospital. She served over eight years as Executive Director of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, the premier American intersex policy organization, and four years on the board of directors for InterConnect. A leader in the field of intersex human rights, Kimberly participated as the sole American intersex participant in the UN Expert Intersex Convening by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and is an official signatory to the historic Yogyakarta Principles +10 . She is a coauthor on a number of intersex resources including Supporting Intersex People in the Workplace by Out & Equal, and The Fenway Institute’s Guide to Affirming Primary Care for Intersex People, as well as A National Study on the Physical and Mental Health

Buffalo/Niagara Tragedy Recognition

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Message From InterConnect   Hello InterConnect Community,   When we began writing this letter we wanted to address our feelings about the shooting in Buffalo because it will now be a part of our identity at InterConnect. However, we cannot ignore the tragic deaths of 19 children and their two teachers in Uvalde, TX. Once again our hearts are broken by this senseless killing.   When we visited Buffalo and Niagara this last March, every member of our board and our staff fell a little bit in love. The area is beyond beautiful and so many of the people we met welcomed us like old friends. We can barely express what an amazing community we entered. It is with that in mind that we want to extend our love for those we met and express how heartbroken we are over the racially-motivated killing of ten Black community members of the Buffalo community. Once again, America’s Black community has been targeted by a mass shooting. Once again, the Community bears the brunt of the racism which permeates

The InterConnect Archive Project Needs You

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          Have you endured eye-rolls from your friends and family because you’ve been archiving all your emails for the past fifteen years?  Have people judged you for your borderline hoarding tendencies, just because you've filled boxes and boxes with AIS-SG & AIS-DSD newsletters? Well, prepare to be validated…! One of our members, LJ Scott, has been collecting and archiving our group's history over the past year, gathering a collection of 2000-2009 newsletters and fliers, as well as every newsletter from 2016 onward.  But we need your help filling in the gap from 2010 through 2015! If you've been diligently saving our emails and printed newsletters, please contact ''lj at interconnect dot support'' or leave a comment with your contact information. Thank you!

Announcing The 2022 InterConnect Summer Conference!

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            Dear InterConnect Community, Happy Spring!  The board just got back from our first in-person board retreat in three years, where we spent a lovely (but cold!) weekend together in Niagara Falls, NY.  We are so excited to host our first conference as InterConnect there in July.  We have so much to celebrate together, and we can't wait to see all of you this Summer. This year's conference theme is "Feel The Rush"!  You'll definitely feel the rush of connection and community as we gather together near Niagara Falls this Summer.  When you walk out of the hotel, you can hear the powerful rush of the falls across the street!  Mist rises as the falls peacefully beckon visitors to enjoy their beauty.  We are excited to come together as a powerful community, before flowing back to our local communities enriched and rejuvenated. This will be the first in-person gathering for the group in three years, and like our recent virtual gatherings we plan to have sessions

Message From Incoming President Rebecca Baughman Kerns

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    by Rebecca Baughman Kerns       I am so grateful for the amazing leadership InterConnect has had over the last few years.  The exiting board found so many ways for us to keep connected in what could have been such a lonely time and I am hopeful that this is the year when we can finally get together and celebrate how far we have come.  I am looking forward to spending time with all of our family and allies in just a few weeks, enjoying the Winter Gathering. I am so honored to be taking over as President from the amazing Mary Mihevic.  I am a mom of three kids – two who are full grown and one eight year old bundle of dynamite.  I spend my days writing grants for several small non-profits, teaching English and trying to finish my Masters degree in English at the University of Missouri.  I live in Columbia, MO and when I can find the time, I keep myself sane by knitting, running and baking. InterConnect’s new Board of Directors is amazing.  Over the next few months, watch this section

Message From Outgoing President Mary Mihevic

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      by Mary Mihevic     A little bit about me: I'm Mary, I'm 46, and from Cleveland, OH. I have been involved in social work for over 25 years, and most recently worked in a role, via a national grant, to change outcomes for LGBTQiA+ youth that have been touched by the child welfare system. I've been a member of this group since 2004, back when it was an email circle and Yahoo Group .  After being a wallflower for a long time, I attended my first conference in Cincinnati in 2015, and became convinced of how important it is to meet and make lasting connections with others that have intersex traits. I immediately began volunteering for the Welcome Committee; and a year later ended up serving in the role of Communications Coordinator from October of 2016 through 2018.  I was involved with the planning and facilitating our conferences in Phoenix, Chicago, and Little Rock.  I joined our Board of Directors in 2018, and in 2019, at Little Rock, I was approached by folks suggest

A Message From the President:

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by Mary Mihevic Yesterday I was invited to participate in the first ever Intersex Awareness Day zoom round-table discussion with staff from the White House & Health and Human Services! I represented InterConnect Support Group along side interACT , Intersex Justice Project , The Houston Intersex Society , and other phenomenal intersex leaders/activists.  It was an honor to be at the table and to watch our community speak truth to power.  We collectively shared our concerns for the human rights issues, body autonomy, and health care crises that we face against the lack of culturally competent intersex care and legal protections under discrimination laws.  We also collectively noted issues that real data on intersex people and qualitative research has been suppressed by the medical establishment who are threatened to become obsolete in "treating" through pushing a surgical agenda; and also that intersex people and families from abroad approach us looking for help as they fe

Lianne Simon (1952-2021)

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It’s with a heavy heart that we inform the community that one of our beloved members, (Jennifer) Lianne Simon died of a stroke on August 25th. Lianne is our dear friend, colleague, the co-founder of Intersex and Faith , and a member of InterConnect for many years. Her obituary, part of which follows, can be read HERE .   "Jennifer Lianne Simon, age 69 of White House Tennessee passed away on August 25, 2021. She is survived by her loving husband of 21 years, John Simon; her sisters, Becky Bichlmeir, and Katherine Klett; brother-in-law Dave Simon, and is also survived by cousins, nieces, nephews, and extended family and friends. Jennifer was a firmware engineer, and she and her husband John were members of Faith Presbyterian Church in Goodlettsville."   Lianne has supported, advocated for, and befriended countless intersex people over many decades. Through her novels she enabled readers to envision growing up intersex. Lianne worked tirelessly to help religious people, especi

Official Name Change Notice

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    InterConnect Board and Staff     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   INTERCONNECT SUPPORT GROUP Formerly known as AIS-DSD Support Group, InterConnect has transformed and is committed to serving all intersex people. [Columbus, GA - August 9, 2021] After community input, organizational alignment, and rebranding, AIS-DSD Support Group is now officially known as InterConnect Support Group. InterConnect Support Group shall hereby be referenced accordingly on all communication, content, and websites. Please adjust your content and resource material accordingly:   ● Organization Name: InterConnect Support Group ● Organization Nickname: InterConnect ● Website: www.interconnect.support ● Logo: Contact courtney@interconnect.support for files. ● Email: info@interconnect.support InterConnect is a compassionate and affirming virtual community, open to all intersex individuals, family members and allies, working together to promote a better quality of life through connection, support, education, and a

Dear Members, Family, and Allies,

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We hope the start of your new year is going well. This year, we are excited to have our three newest board members join the board. They each bring a unique l skill set. We are excited to see what we can accomplish this year! In addition to our new board members, we are so thankful for all those who volunteered in 2020. Wishing you the best in 2021, InterConnect Board and Staff

Living Out

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    with Banti Jaswal     As we celebrate Intersex Awareness Day we turn out attention to our incredible community for your thoughts on awareness and living authentically. Banti Jaswal (they/them), is an intersex artist, presenter, and Greater Boston Area PFLAG scholarship recipient. For this special IAD newsletter issue Banti shares about their experiences of becoming and living authentically. On Coming Out I was able to come out after I had a community of people who loved and supported me no matter what. With these intersex and non intersex people behind me I thought “well who cares what other people think”. I was fortunate that most of my experiences have been great. It's important to be prepared for questions that people may not know are offensive but this helps me with my speaking. The bad experiences don't hurt me as hard with my core family and friend’s love. Before coming out I wish I'd known that it is one step closer to being your true self. For me, at least, it f

Volunteer Spotlight

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  by L.J. Scott Seeking a support group in 1987, I had actually given up finding one by 2012. I wrote an autobiography and tossed it to the self-publishing winds thinking I’d only connect with other Intersex people over the fullness of time, long after my death. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this group in 2017! So used to being my own support group, I really didn’t know what to make of my first conference in 2018, but warmed up and connected with people starting with 2019's Camp Orchid. I’m thrilled to bring what few talents I have to the group. And for those who are curious, you may find my name on a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode somewhere out there...!   LJ Scott (she/her)  Member Engagement

A Message From the President:

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by Mary Mihevic   InterConnect (transforming from AIS-DSD) is committed to improving, growing, and learning from the highs, and lows, we have all experienced over our 25 year history. We look forward to incorporating the ideas and suggestions we received in the diversity listening session and from your conference feedback as we move forward through the future. InterConnect is on the final step of our legal name change!  We're just waiting on confirmation from the state where we're incorporated, and once we receive that notification, all of our group's private and public sites and our banking name will change. In a year like 2020, where distancing and concern for maintaining health are a central focus for most of us, it is more clear than ever that our connections to one another are so important and truly valuable.  We hope to increase the group's ability to maintain this connection throughout the year. It was really wonderful to see so many of you during our Virtual Con

A Message From The President

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by Mary Mihevic     Hi everyone! I am grateful for this opportunity to serve my community and to help lead this group into the future. We started off nearly a quarter century ago and we've grown to become so much more! We've blossomed into a vibrant peer based community and my goal is to find ways to enhance this. I'd like to have member voice and transparency become more of a driving force than ever, so please consider getting involved in a committee because we're strongest as a community when we work together to make our group better! As 2020 moves forward we plan to transition to the name InterConnect. Please stay tuned as we'd like input and creative ideas about our opportunity to re-brand. We'd like to get the website revamped and also consider a new logo. We want member ideas and contribution to be a part of this process. I do ask for your patience with the legal process of the name change, as we move forward, it may be necessary to complete after we handl

A Message From Kimberly

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b y Kimberly Saviano In late 1998, I was 28 years old; lonely, despondent, and suicidal because of a condition that I didn't understand and which I thought isolated me from everyone. I'd never allowed myself to be in any kind of romantic relationship because I just knew they'd find out about my terrible secret and that would be the worst thing in the world. I tried to fill my world with other distractions and activities, but the depression and anxiety continued to get worse and worse. I know I wouldn't have survived through the end of that year if I hadn't found this support group. But finding the group, making my first contact, attending my first conference, meeting the friends who I will always love and admire, and being nurtured as we all contributed our stories and voices to this group, made it possible for me to thrive. My own story sounds melodramatic to me now, I've told it so many times; and the life I lead now makes it almost impossible to believe that

We Have Decided On A New Name!

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  OUR NEW NAME WILL BECOME: InterConnect   As you are probably aware, AIS-DSD has been interested in changing our name to make it reflective of being the more inclusive and not specific to AIS group that we have become over the years. We are also looking forward to removing DSD from our name to remove the focus of medicalizing being intersex. We have spent over 3 years discussing it among different boards. We canvassed our membership, took member suggestions and held some online polling to see what folks thought. THANK YOU to everyone that submitted suggestions, and voted in our polls! We will begin the name transitioning process in 2020 There will be a legal name change and because of that we may need to announce methods to adjust ongoing donations that some of our members have generously established. There is no change in 2019 and no action is required form anyone at this time Stay tuned, as we prepare to re-brand we will have more information about tagline and other information!

Camp Registration EXTENDED!

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        Camp Orchid in Little Rock Arkansas, is 3 weeks away! Many of you have been to other conferences and wonder why this will be any different? Why do I need to go? What will be happening to the usual sessions? We have listened to feedback and many of our members were asking for more time to bond and connect. We have also decided to make this year all about our members and have moved away from having a CME or having clinicians at our event. We do have a special guest, Dr. Sue Stred, she will be there to help guide our new and old members through Intersex 101, 201, she will also be with us as a trusted ally for other topics and be available for private conversations if you would to ask her some questions or get some advice. For 23 years now we have been running these annual conferences with numerous speakers and agendas full of workshops and panels, but we are needing to expand what our members are needing. We know that the most powerful times that come out of our annual gatherings

Happy Spring!

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    by ''Meg''     We are finally seeing some green sprouts in Massachusetts, and our support group gathering is now four months away.  It is always such an exciting time for our group as we see registrations coming in and can start to anticipate seeing each other!   Camp Orchid 2019 in Little Rock is going to be a blast…camp fires, a lake to canoe and fish in, an accessible pool, walking trails on site, and hiking nearby, basketball court, and lots of indoor space for member-led sessions and conversations, not to mention karaoke and the usual fun we all get up to!   By way of introduction -- I’m Meg and am a mom of two intersex children.  I have been a Board Member for 6 years, and a part of the Welcome Committee for longer than that.  We have appreciated this support community for a long time now!   Our first contact was through the old Yahoo group for parents – and Arlene Baratz and Jane Goto were two of the welcoming, generous people we met in those early days.  B

Kimberly's Message

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    by Kimberly Saviano   Wishing all of you a very wonderful new year filled with all the joy and adventure you could want! I've started 2019 off with a fabulous beginning, heading down to Arkansas to meet with the board of directors and to check out the amazing site for this summer's conference. I can't tell you how excited and pumped I am after the wonderful weekend I got to spend with some amazing people, and the real start of planning for what I think will be the most amazing conference ever! I know... every year seems like the most amazing conference ever (and if it is YOUR first conference, then it TOTALLY is!), but this one is going to be really special. Every year, we ask for feedback about sessions and the conference, and we always get comments that are some form of "the sessions are great, but I wish I had more time to connect with people!". You also may have realized that there are people at the conference that you never really see because they are att

A Message From Our President

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b y Kimberly Saviano In less than 12 weeks, we'll be celebrating our community and fellowship together in Chicago ! If that seems like a long time to wait, it is -- but if you are involved in the planning and coordinating of this massive event, then it is feels like there is a blaring alarm waking you up every morning and you swear you can hear the ticking of a clock everywhere you go! Okay, okay... that might be a little extreme, but a lot goes into these conferences! We've got a great team of people helping out to secure speakers for our various workshops, plan parties and activities, coordinate with the hotel to ensure the amenities we need are in place and that the food options will work for our group. There are lots of ways to get involved too from helping out with registration, helping out in various workshops, donating items for the silent auction, and more! Write to us with any ideas you have to contribute or volunteer to help out! Don't forget that our early-bird p

A Message From Our President

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b y Kimberly Saviano As winter moves slowly towards spring, you might be thinking "Oh, the conference is so far out, I wish I could see everyone sooner!" but for this Board of Directors we're thinking "What? there are only 20 weeks left to the conference! We have so much to do!" Please keep your ideas coming for sessions and workshops that you would like to see and attend. Is there a topic you wish were covered? Let us know what that is, even if you don't know who could speak on it. Know someone who would give a great talk? Encourage them to submit a session or let us know and we'll reach out! And while we're talking with people to make this a fantastic conference, we're getting ready to open registration in the next few weeks. We'll also have our applications for scholarships for those who need help with conference registration. Meanwhile, we're now looking for nominations for the Board and for a new Secretary officer position. This year

A Message From Our President

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b y Kimberly Saviano I want to wish everyone very happy holidays! 2017 has gone by far too quickly and it's been an amazing year. We've had some incredible successes including the wonderful Phoenix conference in the summer, the Human Rights Watch publication , the statement released by the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology , a successful shift from the Orchid Connect forum to Facebook groups, and the initiative to restart the monthly newsletter! We also experienced some losses, including people we loved, and decisions and practices continuing that we all wish would stop. We continue our work to support, educate, and do outreach to foster healthy outcomes for adults, youth, children, and families in our community! As we roll into 2018, we're excited by all the initiatives and projects we're working on. In addition to planning our summer conference in Chicago, which may well be the largest conference we've ever hosted, we are looking into

What This Group Has Meant To Me

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A disclosure story for Intersex Awareness Day: by Mary Mihevic   I write this because I stand with my intersex siblings together to say, we exist, we are not tokens, and we will no longer let the medical community violate our basic human rights and mutilate us or lie to us! Here’s why: it is 2017 and we STILL have Intersex Genital Mutilation, IN THIS COUNTRY. WE HAVE DOCTORS IGNORING THE INFORMED CONSENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL. We have fear and shame based thinking that is taking away self-determination. We have doctors influencing parents to alter babies genitals, to ‘assign’ them a biological sex when there is some visible ambiguity. We also have cancer “risk” being used as a scare tactic, without any real evidence of increased risk. I AM A WOMAN, I AM A HUMAN, I HAVE AN INTERSEX CONDITION. When I was diagnosed, my story was told to some of those that I thought were friends that would be there for me and show me love. Yet, my story was taken away from me, twisted, and used to mock me. I’M

A Message From Our President

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  by Kimberly Saviano       How is it possible that summer is already winding down? People going back to school, taking those last moments of summer vacation before Labor Day, and getting ready for cooler weather coming. Time moves so quickly, and these seasonal transitions put us in mind for planning, preparation, and thinking about the future. To that end, I'll be hosting a new series of conference calls to dig in to the long term planning for this organization and putting together the strategic vision for the next several years of the group. So much about our organization is changing and our growth has been outstanding. The first meeting will be on Tuesday evening, September 19th . Anyone who is interested and has the skills to contribute, please contact me at kimberly.saviano@aisdsd.org so we can talk about it. As things coalesce and we move forward, I'll use the newsletter to keep everyone updated! Along these lines of thinking of our combined future, election

Spirituality & Diversity:

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by Lynnell Stephani Long In a few weeks the AIS-DSD Support Group conference will take place, this year in Denver. I am both excited and nervous. Lately I’ve been going through some sort of spiritual metamorphosis and it’s making me think a lot about not only the people I want in my life, but also the spiritual path I am taking. This year I can honestly say I feel my spiritual path and my intersexuality path are the same, for now. I have been a devout Buddhist and Pagan for as long as I’ve been sober, 23 years. Yet at the same time I can say I have moments where I struggle with my spirituality. Someone said, when life gives you lemons make lemonade.  What they fail to realize is it takes some sort of sweetener to make lemonade, otherwise you’re still stuck with a pocket of lemons. My sweetener has always been a belief that I am exactly where I belong. By holding that truth I can say the days I struggle with Buddhism or Paganism are so for I can learn. Frederick Douglas once said, “With

Wrestling with Privacy, Visibility, and Legitimacy

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  by Georgiann Davis, PhD When I was a teenager I phoned The Jerry Springer Show seeking help in resolving my family’s conflict around finances. My working-class family and I saw the show as a legitimate source of assistance. The show didn’t return my call, but my search for help was very real. Roughly 20 years later I was speaking to a producer of The Dr. Phil Show about an upcoming episode where parents of an intersex child would share their struggles with one another over the formation of their child’s gender identity—a four-year old child named Aubrey. Within 72 hours, and thanks to Skype, I was on the Dr. Phil set ready to share my personal and professional experience with intersex. My hope was that I could help these parents, or anyone else with intersex experience, understand that gender was fluid and contextual. Mostly, though, I just wanted viewers to know intersex was a normal and natural variation. When the show previewed on the internet, I heard a number of val