Pulitzer Center Update August 1, 2022

Webinar Recording: Championing Intersex Rights and Visibility

Still of Tatenda Ngwaru from the documentary "She's Not a Boy," directed by Yuhong Pang and Robert Tokanel.

In this lesson, students consider questions of identity and visibility by analyzing a documentary about an intersex woman from Zimbabwe seeking asylum in the U.S.

June 8, 2020


On June 2, 2022, an estimated 4,150 learners in six U.S. states and seven countries joined a conversation on the challenges facing intersex people around the world, and a celebration of intersex resistance and pride. The conversation featured intersex activist and human rights champion Tatenda Ngwaru and journalist and documentary filmmaker Robert Tokanel, who co-directed a documentary about her story. This event was moderated by Morty Scanlon, who serves on the board of directors for GLEAM (Global LGBTQI+ Employees and Allies at Microsoft), and was hosted in partnership with Flip (formerly Flipgrid). Flip is a free learning platform that allows educators and students around the world to record and share videos in response to questions or prompts.

This event was designed for educators and students ages 11 and up. For educators who would like to explore Tatenda's story with their students in greater depth, check out this activity on Flip, or this complete lesson plan on the Pulitzer Center's lesson library.

Ngwaru began the event by sharing her story. She described her childhood in Zimbabwe and the challenges she faced growing up as an intersex child. Ngwaru then explained why she decided to move to the United States. Ngwaru shared that she faced harassment and intimidation for her intersex activism in Zimbabwe. “There were so many times I was physically abused for speaking up,” she said. Ngwaru moved to the U.S. in 2016 and continues to be involved in intersex activism. Next, Robert Tokanel joined the conversation and described how he came to make the film “She’s Not a Boy” with co-director Yuhong Pang. The film follows Tatenda as she adjusts to her new life in New York City, and introduces her loving parents at home in Zimbabwe. He also described the reporting process and obstacles faced in producing the documentary. The event concluded with Ngwaru sharing her proudest accomplishment. “I am proud that I make a choice every day and go and give. Somebody told me that the greatest thing in this world is not what you have but your ability to want to give,” she said.