Intersex woman fights to have gender changed on legal documents

Juleigh Mayfield was born James Bradford and grew up playing football, believing she was a boy until she turned 17.

Juleigh Mayfield was born James Bradford Mayfield and grew up playing football, believing she was a boy until she turned 17.

That’s when she learned she was born intersex, meaning she has an extra chromosome and was born with both male and female sex organs.

“So I’m 47, XXY,” Mayfield said.

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Mayfield said she doesn’t know if her parents chose her gender when she was born but said that growing up she experienced a lot of the same issues as other XXY kids.

“I know I struggled with all the things that XXYs do early on -- the learning disabilities, the social delays, the not walking, the not talking," Mayfield said.

When Mayfield was 17, she was put on more testosterone. As she got older, more medical issues presented. She lost all her teeth due to a bacteria in her bones and teeth. In 2018, she learned she had more than just an extra chromosome: She had no Adam’s apple, additional breast tissue, one ovary and one testicle, partial pancreas and a partial uterine floor.

She also was diagnosed with lupus and osteoporosis of the lower back and spine, and needed to be put on estrogen. The hormone would cause her to transition into a woman, and if she didn’t do it, doctors said she’d be dead in five years.

The decision was difficult, but necessary.

“Same driver, same exact soul,” Mayfield said, “just a better vehicle.”

Juleigh Mayfield is intersex, meaning she has an extra chromosome.
Juleigh Mayfield is intersex, meaning she has an extra chromosome. (Juleigh Mayfield)

To more easily navigate her new life, Mayfield legally changed her name to Juleigh last year.

“I felt a 70/30 split -- about 70% female, 30% male, but I still felt both even now in this body,” Mayfield said.

Now, she’s hoping a Florida judge will approve changing her gender marker, so she can go to Alabama to get her birth certificate changed and do basic things like get a passport and buy a home.

Mayfield, an actress and model, previously tried to change her birth certificate to say female. However, the state wanted proof of sex reassignment surgery -- a procedure she didn’t have, or need.

That’s when Dr. Irene Pons, an attorney and lecturer at the University of Central Florida, came in. The two met when they were cast members at Walt Disney World together in the 1990s.

“You just want to be Juleigh’s friend, and it was the same way when she was Brad” Pons said.

Pons, with the help of UCF students, filed a petition for a gender marker change that a judge is now reviewing.

Their hope is that, if Florida changes it, Alabama will change Mayfield’s birth certificate.

And if the judge denies their petition then, “We fight it right,” Mayfield said. “We don’t stop.”

That could include taking it to the Florida Supreme Court.

What does Mayfield want people who are unisex who want to see her story want to take away from it?

“You’re stronger than you think you are,” Mayfield said.