ABC1 tackles the rarely visited condition of intersex in the documentary Orchids: My Intersex Adventure next Sunday night.
The term was adopted in the early 20th century and applied to people whose biological sex cannot be classified as clearly male or female. An intersex person may have the biological attributes of both sexes or lack enough attributes to be defined as one or the other sex.
In this doco, a filmmaker hears from others who share the same condition. How deeply does it affect their lives?
In Orchids: My Intersex Adventure, documentary filmmaker, Phoebe Hart, comes clean on her journey of self discovery to embrace her future and reconcile the past shame and family secrecy surrounding her intersex condition. Despite her mother’s outright refusal to be in the film, Phoebe decides she must push on with her quest to resolve her life story and connect with other intersex people on camera. With the help of her sister Bonnie and support from her husband James, she hits the open road and reflects on her youth.
Phoebe’s happy and carefree childhood came to an abrupt end at puberty when she was told she would never menstruate nor have children. But the reasons why were never discussed and the topic was taboo.
When Phoebe turned 17, her mother felt she was old enough to understand the true nature of her body and the family secret was finally revealed. Phoebe then faced an orchidectomy, invasive surgery to remove her undescended testes, the emotional scars of which are still raw today.
Phoebe’s road trip around Australia exposes her to the stories of other intersex people and holds a mirror to her own experience. She learns valuable lessons in resilience and healing but also sees the pervasive impact her condition has on all her relationships.
Will talking openly with her mother give Phoebe the answers she has been looking for?
10pm Sunday, 29 January ABC1.