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 partner 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. At the age of 17, Phoebe’s 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.

At home, Phoebe and James want to start a family but dealing with infertility and the stress of the adoption process puts pressure on their marriage. Phoebe also starts to understand the difficult decisions her parents faced and is excited but apprehensive when they eventually agree to be interviewed. Will talking openly with her mother give Phoebe the answers she has been looking for?

"This is my story. It’s a story of how my body became a site of pain, confusion and secrecy for me and for my family. Not because it is diseased or dysfunctional but because society deemed it to be abnormal."
Director's Statement

I have Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS). I am a woman with 46XY (male) chromosomes. Without a doubt, I have struggled with unwarranted categorisation and medical interference. Wherever possible, I actively seek to disrupt this cataloging and meddling with as much honesty and humour as I can muster. It’s the reason why I wanted to make this film.

I chose the title, Orchids , as these ornamental flowers are an especially potent symbol for intersex people.   The etymology of the word “orchid” derives from the Greek orkhis , meaning “testicle”.   As such, I have appropriated these flowers as a resonant visual signifier throughout my documentary.

On a professional and personal level, Orchids: My Intersex Adventure has presented me with many challenges. At an early stage of research and development, I made a conscious decision the film should be largely autobiographical. This was important for me on a number of levels and represented a huge step in terms of self-confidence and courage. In my early life, my condition was kept a secret from me. I was confused and told to keep quiet about who and what I was. I was subjected to medical scrutiny, surgery and pathology. Orchids has allowed me to reflect on the shame and trauma of my coming-of-age experience and examine why “coming out” continues to be extremely challenging.

After speaking with many intersex men and women for many years, it has become evident to me most are happy to be intersex but unhappy with the attendant “social” problems. Every day they deal with the stigma of being intersex, being seen as “different” or “freakish” by society, and treated by doctors and family members accordingly. Medical treatment contributes greatly to a sense of social inferiority and shame, as cosmetic surgery seeks to normalise aberrant bodies, pusing individuals with intersex towards either (more) male or female. In effect, such pathology represents a social shift to sequester intersex people from the normal population. Orchids: My Intersex Adventure is a portrait of survival and courage, revising societal and historical perspectives of intersex by creating understandings of difference, which originate from a highly subjective space.

I hope my narrative will engage and move audiences. Orchids: My Intersex Adventure presents the struggles and triumphs of other intersex people throughout Australia. However, most of all, it’s a potent story of family, acknowledging the past, and moving into the future with love and acceptance.

"Personally I could not imagine a better film ever being made on coming to terms with a condition like AIS. It's wildly funny in parts but at the same time it's very intimate and deeply moving. I can't stop thinking about it." - Professor Garry Warne AM, Senior Endocrinologist, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.

Önéletrajzi film arról, hogyan jön rá a rendező interszexualitására, szülei mindezt hogyan hallgatták el, és az egészségügy hogyan viszonyul mindehhez. Miután kérdései „nagy fogadtatásra” találnak, végigfurikázza Ausztráliát, hogy felkutasson más interszexuális embereket. Küzdelmek az országúton és a nézői könnyekkel.

"Hermaphrodite" est un mot utilisé pour parler de Phoebe, une femme avec des chromosomes d'homme. Autant que faire se peut, Phoebe s'efforce, avec honnêteté et humour, de déstabiliser cette catégorisation. Dans son film Orchids  [orchidées], elle entreprend un voyage où elle se dévoile autant qu'elle se découvre elle-même pour mieux embrasser son futur et surmonter la honte et le secret de famille qui entouraient sa condition intersexe. Bien que sa mère refuse d'apparaître dans le film, Phoebe prend la route… 

Orchids kallas de som föds som både kvinna och man. Filmaren Phoebe Hart bestämmer sig efter många års tystnad och under familjens tabu, för att sakta plocka fram kameran och öppet börja tala om sitt ovanliga tillstånd.

Orchideen sind zarte und empfindliche Gewächse. Deswegen würde niemand auf die Idee kommen, ihre Blätter zusammenzunähen und die Blüten zu zerschneiden. Ganz im Gegensatz zu Menschen, die nicht in ein binäres Schema von männlich und weiblich passen. Phoebe Hart zeichnet in ihrer autobiographischen Dokumentation ein fassbares Bild von intersexuellen Menschen, zu deren leben in unserer Zeit noch immer Pathologisierung und Verstümmelung gehören. Zusammen mit ihrer Schwester geht sie auf einen Kamera-Roadtrip quer durch Australien.

Orkideler. Belgesel sinemacı Phoebe Hart kendi cinsel kimliğini sarmalayan aile sırları ve geçmişte yaşanan utançla barışmak ve geleceğe sarılmak için kendini keşfettiği bir yolculuğa çıkar. Phobenin mutlu ve kaygısız çocukluğu, ergenlik döneminde asla regl olmayacağı ve çocuklarıın olmayacağının söylenmesiyle aniden sona erer. Ama bunun nedenleri asla tartışılmaz, bu bir tabudur. 17 yaşındayken annesi Phobe’nin bedeninin doğasını anlayabilecek yaşta olduğunu düşünür ve aile sırları ortaya çıkar. Phobe testislerinin alındığı ve bugün bile duygusal izleri taze olan orşiektomi ameliyatıyla karşı karşıya kalır. Avustralya çevresindeki yolculuğu kendisi gibi olanların hikayelerini ortaya çıkarır ve kendi deneyimlerine ayna tutarken, annesinin kesinlikle istememesine rağmen, Phobe bu yolculukta onun da yanında olmasını istemektedir. Annesi Phobe’nin aradağı cevapları verecek midir?  

"Mi aventura intersexual". Documental autobiográfico sobre la lucha de una mujer para comprender su propia condición de intersexual. Phoebe Hart hace un viaje por Australia para encontrase con personas iguales que ella que le ayuden a afrontar su condición sexual. 

Lungo le strade d'Australia si muove una piccola troupe capitanata dalla regista ermafrodita Phoebe Hart, decisa a trasformare l'on the road in un viaggio dentro di sé e a ritroso nel proprio passato: la sua difficile adolescenza, l'intervento di rimozione dei testicoli interni, i dissidi con i genitori (soprattutto con la madre), la solidarietà del marito, il desiderio di maternità, il confronto con altri ermafroditi. Un percorso di conoscenza oneroso ma anche leggero, ironico, spassionato.

Dorastając, reżyserka Phoebe Hart czuła, że jest inna niż reszta rówieśników - nie wiedziała dlaczego? W filmie pokazuje wewnętrzną podróż zmierzającą do odkrycia swojej interseksualnej tożsamości, czyli stanu określanego terminem „hermafrodytyzm”.