Joe Holliday has been named amongst the 101 most influential lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Britain.
Joe, (27), originally from Peterborough but now living in Spalding, was listed at number 63 in the Independent on Sunday’s Rainbow List this week.
His listing said: “Holliday’s autobiography She’s A Boy was published this year, detailing his experience of being born with a rare birth defect. He was raised as a girl, but identifies as male, now campaigning to end the use of cosmetic surgery on children born with indeterminate gender.”
Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.
Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations. In some cases, intersex traits are visible at birth while in others, they are not apparent until puberty. Some chromosomal intersex variations may not be physically apparent at all. According to experts, between 0.05% and 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits – the upper estimate is similar to the number of red haired people.
Being intersex relates to biological sex characteristics, and is distinct from a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Joe was born suffering cloacal exstrophy which left his abdominal region severely malformed. He had XY chromosomes and internal male sex organs, but doctors advised those be removed and he be raised female.
Joe featured heavily in the Peterborough Telegraph between 1996 and 1998 and his book title was inspired by a Telegraph front page headline about him. At the time he was living as Joella and his family were fighting for his birth certificate to be changed to female. A fight they eventually won.
It was only two years ago that Joe discovered the full truth about his own biology and decided to start living as a man. He is now waiting for his birth certificate to be changed back to male.
The Peterborough Telegraph and Peterborough features in his book, which went to number one in the Amazon biography bestseller chart after its release in August.
Joe, said: “It’s a real honour to be named on the list and it’s my greatest wish that in telling my story I can be of help to others.”
A United Nations factsheet published this year states: “It has become common practice to subject intersex children to unnecessary surgical and other procedures for the purpose of trying to make their appearance conform to binary sex stereotypes.
“These often irreversible procedures can cause permanent infertility, pain, incontinence, loss of sexual sensation, and lifelong mental suffering, including depression.”
It adds that these procedures are regularly performed without the full, free and informed consent of the person concerned, who is frequently too young to be part of the decision-making.
Earlier this year, Malta adopted the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act – the first law to prohibit surgery and treatment on the sex characteristics of minors without informed consent.
This was the first year the Rainbow List included intersex people and three intersex activists were in the top five spots – Sarah Graham at number two and Dawn Rachel Vago and Holly Greenberry, co directors of Intersex UK, jointly at number five.
You can find out more about Joe’s book She’s A Boy at www.bylouisechapman.com