MTV has done an amazing thing recently by adding an intersex character to “Faking It!” In said program, the character Lauren Cooper (portrayed by Bailey De Young) has Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. This means that she has XY chromosomes, developed as female, and her body no longer produces hormones so she takes estrogen pills. She also talks about certain symptoms like having hair and skin that doesn’t get oily, and not having body odor, common things that many experience during puberty. While MTV does do an amazing thing by portraying intersex people in the media, it is important to note that there many other ways people can be intersex.  Not everyone experiences being intersex in the same manner.

My name is Robyn, and just like Lauren Cooper, I am also intersex. However, our stories are quite different from one another.

Ryan-interACT-youth-memberI didn’t even know I was intersex until I was 19, and a series of very odd hormone levels and an ultrasound of my lower abdomen revealed that I had a very small and partially formed uterus and ovaries. Another ultrasound and biopsy revealed that my uterus has XX chromosomes, even though I have XY chromosomes. Meaning…I’m actually a chimera. I was also told, word-for-word:


“You are not really a boy.”


This was really hard for me to hear, just as it seems like Lauren still struggles with her journey too. She is very ashamed of her condition, not even her closest friends (or lackies…) knew about her being intersex until season 2. While I was very ashamed for a year or so after finding out about my condition, I became very vocal about my own intersexiness, and even wanted to get involved with intersex advocacy.

This also brings up another big difference, I found out when I was already in college and not in the intense social atmosphere that is high school. I wasn’t very worried about telling anyone at my college, but if Lauren were to tell anyone, her other thousand classmates would find out in a matter of days. I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be out about being intersex in high school either.

While Lauren and I do have our differences, we both have periods of high mental distress because of our conditions. She is very embarrassed by it, and I have days where I still have identity crises about my gender identity. However, our conditions are by no means the same, and neither are our experiences. One thing we do share is that we are both intersex, and while it does present challenges for both of us, those challenges are very different!

MTV’s Faking It has made history tonight as the first TV show to have an intersex character be played by an intersex person! Lauren is making a documentary for personal gain and is surprised when Raven (played by Amanda Saenz, an Interact Youth member), shows up and tries to learn more about Lauren’s story as an intersex person. Raven was under the impression that Lauren wanted to be an intersex spokesperson because of what Lauren’s step-sister told them, and Lauren flips out because she’s totally against that in the beginning.

slider-intersexonTV2A question Raven asks Lauren, “What does normal even mean?” strikes a cord with her and makes her realize that her being unable to open up to people about her intersex self may be part of a larger problem that Lauren has with being her true self. Amanda’s part in this episode of Faking It was so great, and I’m so excited for them for being the first intersex character being played by an intersex person!

I’m so glad that MTV has decided to give such a marginalized group representation like this in the mass media! It’s such a positive thing for younger teenagers finding out that they are intersex and be able to see people on TV experiencing similar issues. I would have loved seeing an intersex character on TV when I was struggling with my diagnosis, and now people coming into their identity as an intersex person can have that!