Living an intersex life

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10/29/2023

When Pidgeon Pagonis was born in a Chicago hospital 37 years ago, her doctors saw something that alarmed them. “I was born looking female on the outside,” Pagonis said, “and then it was discovered that on the inside of my body, I had not completely the parts that would be considered female.” Pidgeon (whose birth name is Jennifer) looked like a little girl. But instead of ovaries, there were internal testes, and instead of XX chromosomes, Pidgeon had the male XY combination. Pidgeon Pagonis was born intersex. And she’s not alone. According to statistics cited by the United Nations, 0.05 to 1.7 percent of the world’s population is intersex. “That’s roughly the amount of people in the state of Minnesota combined, or the country of Japan,” Pagonis said.

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