RADIFY starts in the near future, just as medical tourism and overseas practices of unregulated reproductive human gene-editing procedures have prompted an international genetics policy summit. At the assembly, American xenophobic biotech mogul Eric Bateson inaugurates an influence campaign. His intention is to deregulate advances in gene-editing and reproductive technology for the purpose of building a neo-eugenic master race. Outside the conference halls, a protest erupts on the streets. Journalist Thomas “Target” James III is on the scene for news-blog RADIFY. When he suspiciously dies in the crowd, three unlikely heroes unite to search for the truth behind his death.
This is the first in a series of graphic novels. One of RADIFY’s three lead character’s personal journeys will be highlighted in each of the novels. Cadence Morrow is featured first, in RADIFY. As Target’s girlfriend, she is devastated by his passing and wants to know the truth. In her private life, without Target’s support, Cadence faces renewed pressure from family and doctors to intensify “management” of her intersex variation. She resists and begins to explore her sexuality, rethinks her concept of gender, and eventually finds community among intersex human rights and LGBTQI2+ activists. Along the way she struggles to trust Roam Sparks and Alexandra Diaz-Fontaine who reach out to help her investigate.
Roam and Alexandra are Cadence’s two cohorts. Roam, a bio-ethics PhD candidate, struggles with his wife over reproductive options. Working with a clinic by necessity, they object to “choosing traits” for their first child, and lament the limited options for responding to inheritable medical conditions. Alexandra, RADIFY’s narrator and Cadence’s budding love interest, is an indigenous Latina lesbian facing a workplace that rewards misogyny and racism while banning homosexuality in painful contradiction to her intersectional queer activist-zine private practice.
“I have never been more dedicated to a project than I am to this one! That’s why I structured RADIFY to be the first in a series of speculative-fiction graphic novel mysteries set in the near future when breakthroughs in biotechnology have captured the public’s attention.” – Emily Mode
What is “intersex” and why did I choose to write an intersex character?
Intersex is a general term used for people born with any of a range of characteristics that may not fit traditional conceptions of male or female bodies, including variations in their chromosomes, genitals, and/or internal organs. People with intersex traits have always existed.
I became interested in intersex stories because of my overlapping experiences with some people in the intersex community. As a lesbian of Jewish decent who has undergone treatment for epilepsy I have had periods in my life where I felt safer if I hid my identity and have experienced gender expression discrimination and homophobia. When I developed epilepsy I worked with some doctors and medical practices that over prescribed or rushed into treatments without offering options or explaining the consequences and side effects of their decisions.
I began researching intersex experiences over six years ago. During that time I grew committed to specific groups of intersex self-advocates and now work with intersex consultants who provide sensitivity readings of RADIFY, and help me refine Cadence’s story arc and medical timeline. The character of Cadence is being face modeled by an intersex cinematographer and intersex activist. In addition I have intersex individuals and an organization of intersex youth that I plan to collaborate with on the appendix and questions for the back of the book.
“As in intersex person and an activist I am thrilled to be the face model for Cadence, an intersex character. Representation is very important for our intersex community and I’m so grateful to Emily for working with us and for doing it right! I feel very lucky to be a part of this project and I can’t wait for the final result!” – Irene Kuzemko
“I’m excited for Radify because it explores many of the themes we intersex and LGBTQ+ people will have to deal with in the not-so-distant future. It’s deeply refreshing to see an intersex character taking back power in the face of industrial medicine.” – Hans Lindahl
“Our youth members have been hard at work consulting on this graphic novel project: one of the first featuring an intersex character! They did sensitivity reading, face modeling, and background research. The author, Emily Mode, has been dedicated to listening to and compensating intersex youth from the beginning. Stellar!” – InterACT Advocates for Intersex Youth
Community Engagement Ongoing
Community engagement is ongoing and will grow through each book in the series. RADIFY’s three protagonists’ personal stories are based on a range of true-life experiences, and refined via sensitivity script readings and consulting with community organizations and members. In addition, face models were cast from their communities and I am developing book contributions with each community for the final books. More on this is coming soon.