Intersex Visibility feat. Pidgeon Pagonis and River Gallo, Outfest Artist to Artist Conversation

By Daniela “Dani” Capistrano for TransLash Media

Intersex representations matters. The 6th annual Outfest Los Angeles Trans, Nonbinary & Intersex Summit took place in West Hollywood, California, on July 23, 2022. This incredible event showcased work from two brilliant intersex artists—River Gallo and Pidgeon Pagonis—and brought them together for a conversation about intersex visibility, artistry, and storytelling.

TransLash was in attendance at this event and recorded an IG live, but Meta/Instagram unfortunately shadow-banned our video in the USA and worldwide. To make this conversation accessible, we ripped the IG Live video for YouTube along with a transcript, below.

TRANSCRIPT: Intersex Visibility feat. Pidgeon Pagonis and River Gallo

River Gallo: I wanted to say welcome. It is the sixth annual Trans, Nonbinary Summit, but it’s the first annual Trans, Nonbinary and Intersex Summit.

Pidgeon Pagonis: So good.

Gallo: I know, I came up with it when I was sitting down, I was like, I’m gonna pass through. And I was like how many years has it been? I really wanted to cross my leg, but then I’ll surprise you guys with other stuff.

Pagonis: I just wanna say I’m such a good person. I gave River the left side. They asked for it.

Gallo: Thank you.

Pagonis: I wanted it if I was up here for- But look how nice I am.

Gallo: Um.

Pagonis: So enjoy my bad side.

Gallo: And enjoy my good side!

Pagonis: Intersex bitches.

Gallo: Yeah. Firstly…

Pagonis: The comedy show starts now!

Gallo: Pidge, as Kirin said, came last minute because of an unforeseen event with Tatenda, but it’s so moving actually that you’ve come because the reason I and many people in kind of like post-social media era, intersex culture and community have found out they were intersex through your videos and through your Buzzfeed video that, you know, and all the content that you put out. Like, because of you, I mean, I stand on your shoulders, and- don’t cry! Okay. A little twitch . But no, really I mean, you are for so many of us a pioneer in the whole movement. And so that bears saying. I mean, I know a lot of you call yourselves like, you know, pony boy. Shout out to pony boy.

Pagonis: Shout out pony boy, shout out Drake.

Gallo: Well, I, I think…

Pagonis: You okay? No okay, nevermind. Fuck Drake.

Gallo: That was a friend DA.

Pagonis: Nevermind.

Gallo: That’s okay. But a lot of my work in film and starting to identify as an intersex filmmaker and being intersex came from the work that you did. So thank you for that.

Pagonis: You’re so welcome, even though I just blew up the friend DA. I’m so sorry.

Gallo: It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. With that being said, what are you thinking right now?

Pagonis: I’m thinking-

Gallo: You guys are an easy crowd!

Pagonis: I know.

Gallo: Wow!

Pagonis: I’m thinking about the fact that I thought there was a moderator. I don’t know why, it’s called Artist to Artist Conversation. I texted you today like who’s moderating?

Gallo: Us.

Pagonis: What’s the questions? you’re like, it’s us. I’m like, fuck. So how much time do we have left here?

Gallo: Fifteen?

Pagonis: Oh, so that was, I was like, what is that, 10 or five? That was so nonbinary. I’m thinking about, what am I thinking about, y’all? Oh, here, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about abortion.

Gallo: Really?

Pagonis: Yeah. Okay. So let me tell you the story about me. About a month ago, you said it was, when the Roe v. Wade got overturned. I was like autonomy, bodily autonomy? I don’t know her. Who is she? I was, I was just like, duh, like it was so normal to me to have to see somebody not have bodily autonomy, or to see the state say you don’t have bodily autonomy. And I think that’s fucked up that that was normal to me, and that I expected it. And I think we had a moment two seconds ago

Gallo: We did, two seconds ago.

Pagonis: It was kind of like a moment where someone in the film where the screen said something, like –

Gallo: They said, it was in the content warning before the abortion film, where one of the filmmakers or producers said “Nobody understands bodily autonomy like trans people.” And Pidge and I looked at ourselves like, well, intersex people could have a thing or two to say about that.

Pagonis: So we both looked-

Gallo: Not to play, not to play –

Pagonis: Not to play oppression Olympics, you know?

Gallo: No, no, no.

Pagonis: But no, for real though, but there was this moment we were sitting right there and we had, we just looked at each other and there was a, we didn’t even have to say it. It was like, yeah, we, we understand. So I think this conversation around abortion… Okay. Here’s what I want to say. Anybody know the rapper Noname? So what does Noname say? “Everything is everything.” And I know that, like other people say that too, like Lauryn Hill and others.

But what I was thinking about is when everything is every thing, okay?

If we can understand that, then if everything gets bodily autonomy, like intersex people, trans people, people who need abortions, then everything is good. The net benefit increases. But when everything doesn’t get autonomy, doesn’t have good things, has pain, has trauma, has violence, that everything is bad and there’s a net negative. So I’ve just been thinking a lot about solutions, and my old way of getting to solutions, which was like “Let’s go to the hospital and make them pay.”

And “Let’s protest and let’s do this and let’s do that,” which I still love and I really want other people to do. But I’m also thinking about what are root causes and what are root solutions. And I think a lot about violence, ’cause like what happens to intersex people, what happens to trans people when they’re denied bodily autonomy? What happens to people that need abortions? When they’re denied those, is an act of violence. And why does violence happen? I live in Chicago, I’m born and raised there and I still live there. 36 years. You’ve probably heard about us in the media. Probably not good things. You know, sometimes. I mean we do have really good things, but you – the media sometimes –

Gallo: Good hot dog scene, right?

Pagonis: We have good hot dogs. We have good food. Come by. I’ll give you a tour of the food places. I love food. But I’ve been thinking a lot. Like the night before I came here, there was a shooting. I could hear it, a lot of shots. And then I went to wake up. I woke up and heard about another shooting that I slept through also just a few blocks away.

And I’m like thinking about violence, you know, it’s just we are constantly on- there’s an onslaught of violence in our media, in our consciousness, around us. To intersex people, to trans people, to nonbinary people, to black people to brown people, disabled folks, et cetera. And I’m like, why? And I see it, I see it in children.

When kids are not treated right, experience trauma, not getting enough love. When they’re not allowed to, like, basically what I’m trying to say is we need to heal. And when people get healed, everything is everything. Everything gets better. And I don’t know how to get to the healing. I just know that a lot of us need it.

Audience: You are the healing!

Gallo: Hello.

Pagonis: Thank you.

Audience: You ARE the healing! Hello.

Pagonis: I don’t know who you are but I love you And back to what Raquel said, Raquel, you said something so beautiful. Also Raquel’s seen me in this outfit twice now. Cause I saw you from DC a month ago. I was like “No one’s gonna know me, ’cause I’m from Chicago.” And I’m like “Fuck, Raquel’s keynoting!”

You had said, you had said something. “We are not a myth.” You said “I am not a myth, I am real as hell.” So that’s what I’m thinking about.

How do we go from being myths, literally hermaphroditic myths, hermaphrodite myths, myths in this society that gaslights us 24/7 and says we don’t exist, we’re not real, and if you do exist then we’re gonna you fuck you up with surgeries. How do we go from that to being real, real as hell? And that’s when I think media and representation, that’s where that comes in.

Gallo: Yeah. Yeah. I, it’s funny because when Kirin said do you have any work to show? I was like, no, I don’t have anything. But then I was like, wait a minute. I was work- I’ve been working on this thing throughout this whole year processing this breakup that I had. And, and sometimes I, like, um… I get so, um… self-obsessed with my own, like, sadness and heartbreak. But like seeing it up here, I was like, oh my God, my intersex heartbreak matters. The way I, as an intersex person relate to my relationships, to my love to other people and how I process that into art. Even if I just look like a Lana Del Rey wannabe, which I’ll take. Like, it matters! It matters in the sense of like, she could never.

Pagonis: She could never!

Gallo: No! Love her, love her, but she could never. But in the sense of like, what you’re saying is how do we, how do we heal? I think we heal by being auth- as Raquel said, authentically ourselves in a way that feels, um, like, unabashedly, um, fearless of putting a light onto these ugly or like cracks or like, um…

There was, I wanted to also quote somebody to show that I’m a learned person. I was listening to a interview with Ocean Vuong, and he said something about like how like people think like, “Oh, the future is in the hands of -” people say like, “Oh the future is in children’s hands,” or like “The future is in someone’s hands.” And he said “The future really is in our mouths, it’s what we speak out into the world.” And I thought about that and I was like, I think it’s one step further; the future is in our thoughts.

The future is in our beliefs and what that gets translated out into thought or into words and how that gets translated then into media and into artistic form. But it all starts with, you know, how do I feel about myself? How do I feel about my community? And I think because of your work and the work of so many other intersex people, I’ve started to feel in the last two years, like, like our community – first of all, that there is a community.

Because at first there was the absent of, and I think that’s what a lot of intersex people, but also probably trans and nonbinary people, feel too.

But for intersex people there isn’t a special, the underlayment of invisibility is really prominent. So much so that like, I often posit the question of “What is intersex culture?” Like, I don’t know, because it doesn’t really exist, but it’s happening right now. Like, you know, with this and us here, and I don’t know, I just think about, um, yeah, what does it mean to transition from invisible to visible?

Pagonis: From myth to real as fuck. Meeting right now in Niagara Falls.

Gallo: Yes.

Pagonis: At a support group conference.

Gallo: Yes.

Pagonis: They posted a video today or yesterday. They’re at the Niagara Falls. I’ve never wanted to go, I’m like, who cares? Falling water. Then I see this video and I’m like, I wanna be there! There’s like mist and there was a rainbow in the mist and there was like 30 intersex people with like these plastic ponchos on and they’re blowing in their face.

And they’re like, they’re just like and I looked at their necks, and they had neck, like, what are those, lanyards? They had lanyards on with the yellow with the purple circles for the intersex flag.

My first support group, I went to that same support group. Maybe I was, um, it was like 15 years ago. They hid the fact that it was an intersex support group. It said women’s support group on the name tags. And when we went into the meeting rooms, they closed, they had those shutters, those wooden kinds, they closed them so nobody could hear what we were talking about. ‘Cause we were so sc- I wasn’t, I mean, I was, I don’t even know, I wasn’t even out yet. But I didn’t know if I was scared yet or not. I was still figuring everything out. But I had learned to become scared.

I absorbed the fear of being out and intersex, and to see 15 years later, which I think is really thanks to representation in media. Because I think that we learn, as humans, how to be from stories in media. And of course the people around us, but where do the people around us learn how to be? Stories in media. I think it’s like a chicken and an egg thing. You never know what starts the other and what creates the other. But it just, it’s cyclical. So thank God for stories and media. Because 15 years later, there’s intersex people who are just proudly intersex right now, at Niagara Falls, like, today. And there’s a freaking rainbow because God is like, bless the queers.

Gallo: And also there’s two intersex people on stage right now in Los Angeles.

Pagonis: Yeah, on this side of the country! Cause that’s the other side of the spectrum!

Gallo: Hollywood, baby!

Pagonis: Hollywood, hello! But you know what? I looked, you saw me, I think it was you laughing at me or it was Andre. I was looking up the word ‘media.’

Gallo: Oh yeah, yeah. I looked up, Pidgeon was like preparing what they were gonna say and I was like-

Pagonis: I’m so nervous.

Gallo: Are you Googling ‘media’? What the definition of ‘media’ is?

Pagonis: ‘Cause we’re talking about representation in media, and representation is kind of boring. So I’m like, let look up the word media, which is what I do when I’m nervous. I look up the two damn words of everything. Definitions. I’m always like, let me start there.

Gallo: You know, that’s poignant though, like, what do labels and words, like, what are their actual essences?

Pagonis: Yes. I love the etymology.

Gallo: You know what I mean?

Pagonis: Mm. And essence actually isn’t, anyways, I’m not, but that is the definition of representation. Okay. So I wanna say that one of the definitions of media, which comes from the root word medium, I found out, is “go between”, “intermediary between -” also “between earthly and the spirit world.” You’ve heard of mediums right? They go between-

Gallo: Wow!

Pagonis: Go between, in between, we intersex! Inter-

Gallo: Wow. I say the word medium in my, in my poem.

Pagonis: You did!

Gallo: I did say that.

Pagonis: I know! All the movies and the poems was like, oh, so good today. All going into my notes. And I wanna say that you were touching on this. This is the last thing I’ll say, is that growing up an intersex kid – nothing. Nothing. There is nothing out there to say I exist. To say that we exist. Nothing. There’s nothing. There’s literally, you guys talk about crumbs. We ain’t even got crumbs. Nothing.

And so I think one of the ways to kill people, to kill their spirit, to kill their soul, to kill a community is by isolating them. When you isolate, shame comes in and they work together.

So there’s this box that the doctors, the surgeons, the society, anybody who feels threatened by any of us in this room because we illuminate something different, a different path of freedom from what they say is the only way of existing, AKA the bullshit binary. They wanna keep us in that box to kill us. It’s a death sentence.

And thank God for representation in media. And yeah, those were both my words, representation and media. Thank God for that. Because it allows us intersex people to not have to die in isolation and shame, which is, the doctors do surgeries and stuff, but they really kill you with the after effects of shame and isolation. ‘Cause you kill yourself. ‘Cause as humans, we need each other.

Gallo: Yeah.

Pagonis: We are a social animal, species, creature. We actually need each other. It’s not just some cheesy saying, like, it’s like oxygen for us.

Gallo: Yeah.

Pagonis: I need you and you need me. That’s why, when I’m around you all I wanna do is hug you and put my head on your shoulders. Same with Andre, cause you’re from Chicago, and Jameela, cause you’re from Chicago. Anyone that’s from Chicago I just wanna hold when I’m nervous. Cause y’all from, you from Chicago?

Audience: I’m from Chicago!

Gallo: Where’s Jersey in the house?

Pagonis: Why you laughing? Jersey’s beautiful. Look at it. So we need each other. And I wanna say thank you for putting together, doing the work. And Kirin, thank you for putting together this summit because not only intersex people need intersex people, but intersex, trans, nonbinary, queer, everybody disabled. We need each other. People, we just need each other. And that’s what I think. That’s my final word on why representation in media is important.

Gallo: Wow. I one hundred percent agree. Sometimes as an actor, whenever I’m getting on set, right before here, I’m like, “What the fuck did you do? Why are you doing this right now? Out of all the possible things that you could have done with your life, you decided to do this right now?” And then I think about it. I’m like literally this work of being a creator of intersex representation is saving lives.

Pagonis: Right.

Gallo: And my life and, and it has. And, and that’s just, it’s not in vain. It’s like actually the work matters so much that it keeps me going in a miniskirt on stage, afraid that something’s gonna pop out, but nothing has yet, and you would be so privileged.

Pagonis: So do you need like funding for your film or what you, what you out here getting?

Gallo: Oh, we’re good. We’re good.

Pagonis: You’re good? Okay.

Gallo: Yeah. We’re yeah, we’re moving forward with the film, and –

Pagonis: This one is gonna turn into a feature?

Gallo: No, no, no.

Pagonis: Called pony boy!

Gallo: This is just a type of, of poetry book that I’m writing.

Pagonis: Okay.

Gallo: With a visual album that I’m doing on the side. ‘Cause I was like, you know, I’m a girl that has a lot of feelings and I need to process them.

Pagonis: Yes, Lana- I mean-

Gallo: Yeah. And how’s the book? How much time do we have left?

Pagonis: We have no time.

Gallo: We have, we could-

Pagonis: So the book, also media, I found out today, you know, research. I’m writing a book. Girl, like you said, the revisions and the, the editor, just more and more and more. I’m like, okay, well then why don’t you put a therapist right next to me? A really highly paid one that lives with me. ‘Cause you guys want these stories, right? But they’re killing me sometimes to put on the paper. My book’s going good. All these things. I’m really, I’m really drowning it, so I hope you guys like it. It should come out soon next year. But what I wanna say is also that film you just saw, “A Normal Girl” is a short, it’s like another 10 minutes. If you want to see it, like, I don’t know how, hit me up.

Gallo: Absolutely. See it.

Pagonis: But we, we got, I got an update about it. We got a thing called a fellowship or something. We got money. So the director is doing something like, okay, what’s she doing? I wrote it. Oh, I took a picture. One second, one second, one second. Okay.

The project received the Development Fellowship from National Endowment of the Humanities, in association with We plan to make it a feature, with focus on surgery, and hope to be done in 2023 with a release in 2024, but we do need more funding.

So please, my email- just Google me, Pidgeon Pagonis, I’m in the booklet. Please tell me you wanna help, if you’re like a producer, I don’t know, all the things, editor, music, designer, whatever. Please hit me up, please, please, please. I also have another film that I need to release. That’s an older film I showed here a long time ago. Please hit me up. That’s that. Pidgeon Pagonis, please give me your money, thank you. Good time! Thank you.

Outfest, established in 1982, is a queer arts, media, and entertainment organization that empowers LGBTQIA+ storytellers and clears pathways to visibility of their work by all members of the public.

The 6th annual Outfest Los Angeles Trans, Nonbinary & Intersex Summit showcased a multitude of trans, nonbinary & intersex experiences as a vision for the future. This year’s summit was a time-capsule titled Manifesting Our Future – a call to action to imagine ourselves 50 to 100 years into the future and to leave behind a record of our stories. While trans, nonbinary and intersex people have garnered varying levels of visibility, the goal of this year’s summit was to unpack how visibility can shape our collective future. Storytelling is a manifestation of our imagination and the futures we dream of as trans, nonbinary and intersex people. The future is ours, the future is here, and right now more than ever, we have the power to manifest it.

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TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.



TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.


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