Bo Laurent, aka: Cheryl Chase, is an intersex activist, programmer, translator, and founder of the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA). There is some debate as to if she was assigned the name Brian, Bonnie, or Charlie at birth, but what is known is that she used the names Bo Laurent and Cherly Chase simultaneously since the 1990s and identifies as both. Chase was born in New Jersey with ambiguous genitalia that baffled doctors. At 18 months, Bo was surgically re-assigned to female when they found a uterus and ovotestes. Before the surgery, Brian had been a talkative child, but after the surgery, the child then named Bonnie, stopped speaking for six months.
The parents were then advised never to speak of Bonnie’s medical history and to move to a new town, which they did. Despite their silence, Bonnie felt different and found out about the surgery at age 10 and succeeded in gaining her medical records at age 20 after a three year battle with the hospital. Chase graduated from MIT with a B.S. in mathematics and then studied Japanese at Harvard. After which, Bo helped found a technology company in Japan doing computer and translation work. Bo says: “I was good at all the hard stuff, the non-emotional stuff that’s considered more masculine.”
Upon return to the United States, Chase began working as an intersex activist. In 1993 Bo wrote a letter to Anne Fausto-Sterling who published the letter in the next issue of The Sciences. The letter asked for any persons of intersex condition to contact ‘Cherly Chase’ at the ISNA, which jumpstarted the organization. It was after this that Chase began using both names Bo and Cheryl simultaneously in publications, but changed names to Bo Laurent legally. After ISNA got off the ground, Bo created “Hermaphrodites Speak!”, a 30 minute documentary film in which several intersex people discuss the psychological impat of their conditions and the medical treatment and parenting they received.
In 2004 Bo persuaded the San Francisco Rights Commission to hold hearings on medical procedures for intersex children. Chase has been published in numerous medical journals and was honored with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s 2000 Human Rights Award. In 2004, Bo married Robin Mathias after five years together. Their wedding was held in San Francisco during a brief time when same-sex marriage was permitted. In 2008, Bo joined The Accord Alliane and completed an MA in Organization and Development that began at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco and completed at Sonomo State University.