Joe Holliday Biography

Joe Holliday

Joe Holliday was born a boy but raised a girl on medical advice.

Born with cloacal exstrophy, a rare birth defect that left his abdominal region severely malformed, Joe was not initially expected to survive.

With no obvious genitalia it was not clear whether Joe was male or female but he was hastily christened Joel – mainly as that was the only name his parents had chosen.

When Joe was 11 months old a specialist advised he should be raised female. By then some internal organs – thought to be undescended testicles had been discovered, but it was felt it would be too psychologically damaging for Joe to grow up a man without a penis.

Joe's name was changed to Joella and his mother set about trying to get his birth certificate amended. She was shocked when her request was refused.

For seven years Joe's mother fought, with the aid of a solicitor, behind closed doors to get the amendment but her calls went unanswered. In 1996, Joe's mother turned to the media for help.

Joe's photo and story were splashed across newspapers worldwide – one of them carrying the headline 'She's a Boy'. Princess Diana even wrote a letter in support of the campaign.

In 1998, a barrister offered his help and successfully argued Joe was born intersex – neither male nor female. The Government accepted a mistake had perhaps been made in registering Joe male and issued a new female birth certificate. The media hailed the victory a legal first.

It should have been a happy ending for Joe, but severe playground bullying, a nervous breakdown and depression followed.

Joe's unhappiness continued until a chromosome test finally revealed he had the genetics of a man and allowed him to admit he had never felt female.

When the latest twist in Joe's story became public, it once again grabbed the attention of the media and an outpouring of support from people worldwide for his bravery in telling it.


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