Cheryl Chase (activist) bigraphy, stories - Activists

Cheryl Chase (activist) : biography

August 14, 1956 -

Bo Laurent, better known by her pseudonym Cheryl Chase (born August 14, 1956), is an American intersex activist and the founder of the Intersex Society of North America. She began using the names Bo Laurent and Cheryl Chase simultaneously in the 1990s and changed her name legally from Bonnie Sullivan to Bo Laurent in 1995., Intersex Society of North America (2008). Retrieved July 25, 2008.

Education and career

Chase graduated from MIT with a B.S. in mathematics in 1990. She then studied Japanese at Harvard Extension School and at Middlebury College’s Intensive Summer Language Institute. In 1985, Chase was working as a graphic designer.U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (1986). Intellectual property rights in an age of electronics and information, OTA-CIT-302. U.S. Government Printing Office, April. ISBN 1-4289-2303-9 She then moved to Japan as a visiting scholar at Hiroshima University. She later started a computer software firm near Tokyo.Ward, Fred. "Images for the computer age." National Geographic Magazine vol. 175 (1989). 718-751. While in Japan, she also did translation work. "I was good at all the hard stuff, the non-emotional stuff that’s considered more masculine." Upon return to the United States, Chase began working as an intersex activist. In 2008, Chase received a M.A. in organization development from Sonoma State University.


Chase had a "nervous breakdown" in her mid-30s.Liu, Shirley. Curve She told Salon she once contemplated committing suicide "in front of the mutilating physician who had rendered her genitalia numb and scarred." When she was 35, Chase returned to the U.S. and badgered her mother for answers, then embarked on a search for a fuller understanding of what she had learned. Chase contacted many academic researchers and people with personal experiences of intersex conditions. In 1993, via a letter to the editor published in The Sciences July/August issue, she founded the now-defunct Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) by fiat and asked for people to write to her under her new name, Cheryl Chase, the beginning of the movement to protect the human rights of people born with intersex conditions in the U.S.Chase, Cheryl. The Sciences July/August 1993, page 25. In the 1990s, she began using the names Bo Laurent and Cheryl Chase simultaneously, sometimes in the same publication.Laurent B (1995). Sexual scientists question treatment. in Chase C (ed.) Hermaphrodites with Attitude Fall/Winter 1995-1996, p. 16 ff. She is the creator of Hermaphrodites Speak! (1995), a 30 minute documentary film in which several intersex people discuss the psychological impact of their conditions and the medical treatment and parenting they received.Humpartzoomian R, Rye BJ (2000). Hermaphrodites Speak! (Review). Journal of Sex Research, Aug2000, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p295-298.

In 1998 Chase wrote an amicus brief for the Colombian constitutional court, which was then considering a ruling on surgery for a six-year-old boy with a micropenis. In 2004, Chase and the ISNA persuaded the San Francisco Human Rights Commission to hold hearings on medical procedures for intersex infants. Chase has published commentaries in medical journalsChase, Cheryl. 1999. Rethinking treatment for ambiguous genitalia. Pediatric Nursing 25 (4):451-5 and has criticized feminist writers, including Alice Walker and Katha Pollitt, for not putting intersexuality on the feminist agenda, despite their condemnation of female genital cutting in Africa and elsewhere.Newitz, Annalee (July 27, 1999). ISNA was honored with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's 2000 Felipa de Souza Human Rights Award.

Cheryl Chase and Robin Mathias married in California in 2008.Chase’s activism was a factor in the urology and endocrinology disciplines’ reopening of their consideration of intersex conditions. Chase advocates a more complex view of intersexuality: in particular, that difficulties cannot be eliminated by early genital surgery. In August 2006, Pediatrics published a letter signed by 50 international experts including Chase titled "Consensus Statement on the Management of Intersex Disorders" arguing this position, without making a specific recommendation for parents of intersex children. Chase herself believes that surgery should only be done on patients who are able to make an informed choice; that children should be assigned a gender at birth, but parents should be ready to permit gender transition as the child grows; and that parents should be open with their children about their condition. Nevertheless, many medical professionals believe that few parents will make this choice. She also lobbies for the abolition of the word hermaphrodite in favor of disorders of sex development. Among the doctors supporting Chase is Melvin Grumbach, who had cared for her as an infant and later became a leading American pediatric endocrinologist.

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