David Strachan was born in 1947 in Deep River, Ontario, and grew up in Walnut Creek, California. His family was very religious and attended church three days a week. David was six feet tall by age 12 and 6’10” by age 17. He felt insecure about the attention he got, as well as adults’ expectations that he should behave more maturely because of his height.
David attended Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, and got engaged to a woman he met there. After graduation, he took a job in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and had a relationship with a man in Malaysia. In 1971, he took a semen test and learned that he was sterile. When he told his fiancée that he was bisexual and sterile, they broke up.
At 29 years old, David went to an infertility clinic where he learned that his sterility was due to Klinefelter syndrome, a genetic condition that had given him an extra X chromosome. He was prescribed testosterone injections without any information about the effects, and was blindsided when he became hairier and hornier. His doctors suggested that he undergo breast reduction and testicular implant surgeries, but David refused. Soon after, he attended Getting In Touch, a massage school in the Santa Cruz mountains. The school was also a nudist camp, where David could see, interact with, and sleep with all different kinds of bodies. He made lifelong friends, some of whom later introduced him to his husband Peter. He grew more comfortable with his body and sexuality.
In 1982 San Francisco, David began hearing about HIV and AIDS for the first time, and soon his loved ones were passing away. He tested positive for HIV in 1986; he had 200 T-cells, bacterial pneumonia, and shingles. David credits his relationships with his late boyfriend Keith and with his husband Peter for keeping him alive, as well as his doctor’s decision to put him on a low dose of AZT.
Meanwhile, David reached out to Dr. Susan Stryker about the gender class she was teaching at the Harvey Milk Institute, and Susan referred him to intersex activist Cheryl Chase in 1994. Cheryl invited David to attend a support group she was leading, and told him, “Klinefelter’s syndrome is intersex.” David didn’t know what intersex meant, but he started attending more Klinefelter support groups and getting to know the intersex community. He soon helped Cheryl establish the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries, and joined the ISNA board of directors in 2002.
That same year, David was part of the San Francisco Transgender Civil Rights Implementation Task Force, pushing to add gender identity to San Francisco’s non-discrimination law. He was a frequent guest speaker at the University of California Berkeley, talking to pre-med students about non-consensual intersex surgeries. He also co-founded the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project (later the Nonbinary & Intersex Recognition Project).
In 2008, David received the KQED/Kaiser Permanente Local Hero award for his dedication to intersex activism. And in 2017, David changed his legal gender marker to non-binary and his birth certificate gender to “X.” In his personal life and in his activism, David continues to advocate for his community’s dignity, safety, and pride.