HRC sat down with Jahni Leggett to learn about her work raising awareness of intersex people ahead of our celebration of Intersex Awareness Day.
Post submitted by Sula Malina, Children, Youth & Families Program Coordinator
HRC sat down with Jahni Leggett, an HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador from Olympia, Washington, to learn about her work raising awareness of intersex people ahead of our celebration of Intersex Awareness Day on Friday.
Leggett, who uses both she/her/hers and they/them/theirs pronouns, is a passionate advocate for other LGBTQ, intersex youth of color. They work with interACT Youth to advocate for intersex youth and fight against medically unnecessary surgeries performed on babies and children. Leggett is studying marine biology and anthropology and also travels across the U.S. raising intersex awareness on college campuses and at conferences.
In August, Leggette shared her story in powerful in testimony supporting California resolution 110, saying that, at just six years old, "I had never had the chance to be told the truth, to be given the chance to decide for myself how my body feels to me. My body was owned by the surgeons before I had a chance to lay claim to it.”
Most recently, Leggett declared that the transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex communities wouldn’t be erased following the Trump-Pence administration’s latest efforts to redefine “sex” to intentionally exclude LGBTQ people and their families from federal non-discrimination protections.
TO MY INTERSEX, TRANS, GNC FAMILY. We will not be erased. We have always been here, our ancestors know this and will continue to watch over us as we will continue to exist. #WontBeErased— Jahni Leggett �������� (@Johnny_boy24) October 22, 2018
As we celebrate Intersex Awareness Day, why is it important for you to be out and visible as an intersex person and advocate?
It is important for me to be out and visible to fight against what so many doctors tell us about our bodies. We need to have people we can relate to and foster a community together. By sharing my story and echoing many similar stories, we can fight for intersex human rights and end the surgeries performed on so many intersex children.
Tell us about your experience as an HRC Youth Ambassador.
When I learned of the ambassador program, I wanted to apply because I know the importance of representation. I wanted to be able to share my story, and I hope others -- especially youth -- can find aspects of it relatable and see that young people like us can grow and prosper. As an HRC Youth Ambassador, I have been able to reach audiences that I haven’t been able to before. Speaking on a panel at HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE conference allowed me to see firsthand how influential and educational my story was for so many attendees -- especially for the youth-serving professionals there.
What’s your message to youth-serving professionals who want to support young intersex folks but might not know where to start?
Please do your research and visit websites like 4intersex and interACT. Connect the intersex youth you work with to intersex organizations such as interACT Youth and AIS-DSD Support Group. Another piece of advice is to listen to the full story -- listen to intersex people and never make assumptions for us.
What’s your message to other young intersex folks in the LGBTQ community?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not normal. There are so many of us out there. Reach out to us because we would love to help you. You are human; you are whole. You are normal. Intersex is normal. Just know that so many intersex advocates -- including myself and organizations like interACT -- are out there and want to be there for you. We love you, and you are not alone.