Gina de Vries

Lady Gaga, Intersex, and The Real World vs. The Unicorn World

Filed By Gina de Vries | March 24, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: intersex, Lady Gaga, Telephone

Lisa Harvey at Questioning Transphobia wrote a great blog post on the rumors about Lady Gaga being intersex. Lisa articulates pretty much all of my feelings on the subject way more eloquently than I could hope to. Take a gander, please.

Parts of the Telephone video are clearly intended to be a direct response to the intersex rumors. Namely: The beginning of the video, where the guards make reference to Gaga's junk. (Guard #1: "I told you she didn't have a dick." Guard #2: "Too bad!")

Honestly? If Gaga is going to choose to respond to these rumors in any way -- whether she is intersex or not -- in my fantasy unicorns-n-rainbows world, I'd love to see her say something along the lines of:

"Hey, legions of adoring fans! Here's some information about what intersex is. Here's why intersex people shouldn't be subjected to secrecy, lies, and/or purely cosmetic, medically unnecessary 'treatment' for their intersex conditions. Informed consent is awesome! In conclusion, I will now give millions of my dollars to Intersex Initiative and Advocates for Informed Choice."

But this is pop culture, and I know that that is very unlikely. There's probably a bigger chance of Gaga doing a concert on the moon than there is of her responding to the rumors with a shred of seriousness. And I agree with Lisa's original point that her body is none of the public's business.

That said: She has made a public response now, and it's... lacking. For the only response thus far to be a conversation two guards have about her junk in the Telephone video is disappointing. Lady Gaga wields a lot of power and influence; she could actually make a big difference in the lives of intersex people.

(Cross-posted at Gina's tumblr.)

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This may be a shock given my age and the rest but I rather like Lady Gaga. Some of this springs from her speech last fall at the LGBTQ march in Washington DC, and her fairly open acknowledgement of the LGBTQ fan base she has. However I also am under little illusion about the Music business. In a day and age when many very talented people cannot hardly get noticed even if they set themselves on fire, she has managed to gain a huge amount of buzz. I am also sure she has made a good deal of money for her efforts, much of it based on buzz about her in the press. There has been a saying for years, "there is no such thing as bad press" and for many it seems to hold very true. Keeping people wondering or clouding the issue about her Sex or Gender or Orientation, all helps fuel that press and I would guess is largely well planned out by someone who is managing her. The real test will be what she does a few years down the road when her recording sales and play time start to fade. Bookings slow down and the rest. Will she continue to show support for the LGBTQ Community or shrink back to a more mainstream presentation.

Gina, Lisa's name is Lisa Harney.

And yes, I totally agree with this as a classic appropriation of trans and intersex identities and bodies. Shame on her and her PR team.

Let's see if anyone is bothering to listen: trans people and intersex people's identities and bodies are not here in this world to:

Add shock value, add sleaziness, add sexualization, add a counter-cultural vibe, be your freak show, not to be an automatic demonstration of third sex, not be your exhibit A about how "gender is a performance", be a demonstration to the world how "pansexual you are, etc., blah, blah, blah.

See folks, this is what's called ugly, cheap exploitation (and disrespect) no matter how hip you package it.

Cynthia Lee | March 25, 2010 10:54 AM

I disagree. Lady GaGa is not beholden to anyone but her self and her contracts.
Just because WE may not like something she has said or not said does not make her beholden to us.
She is crass that is her right.
If she started getting on the bandwagon and suporting us I am pretty sure her fans would leave her and she would be reduced to b list status or stuck as a producer of other more popular acts.
I feel that she has every right to continue the ambiguity and make people wonder.
Also I do not think a single dime of her cash is owed to any part of the TS/IS culture.