When Pidgeon Pagonis was born, the baby’s parents and doctors were presented a choice: should the newborn be a boy or a girl?

Because Pagonis was born intersex — which describes about 1.7 percent of babies born with both male and female sex traits or characteristics — the answer was not immediately clear.

Those overseeing Pagonis’ care at Children’s Memorial Hospital, which is now Lurie Children’s Hospital, told Pagonis’ parents it would be safer for the infant to be female and live as a girl, Pagonis said.

Now 31, Pagonis is fighting back against that lack of choice — and speaking publicly about the personal trauma caused by multiple invasive, damaging genital surgeries.

Having learned of and embraced being intersex, Pagonis now uses “they/them” pronouns and describes their gender as being non-binary, or not distinctly a man or a woman.

“I don’t believe that non-intersex surgeons or parents should have the right to surgically alter a healthy intersex person’s body, and their genitalia specifically, because of all the problems that arise from it,” Pagonis said. “It’s a violation of that child’s human rights, and I don’t understand why it happens.”