A Proper Young Lady

9780985148225In the summer of 2012, the AIS-DSD support group met in Oklahoma City. Most who attended were women with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome or—like me—had some other Difference of Sex Development. #intersex is the word most of us happily accept.

That year, the organization invited medical personnel involved in the treatment or study of intersex—the friendly ones, at least. Among those was Eric Vilain, MD, PhD, the Co-Director of the UCLA Institite for Society and Genetics.

In response to a question, Dr. Vilain said that it might be possible to harvest immature spermatazoa from the gonads of a woman with Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and use those to fertilize human eggs. He suggested that only ethical considerations were keeping a clinic from doing so. Or, perhaps, a clinic had already done so quietly.

My publisher and I had recently finished editing my first novel, Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite, so I was eager to start writing my next book.

Three long years passed before A Proper Young Lady became a reality.

A woman with the complete form of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome might never discover that she has testes in her abdomen rather than ovaries and uterus.

Danièle knows, and she grieves that she can never have her own children. She has a partial form of AIS that left her with ambiguous genitals, a steady stream of doctors and psychologists, and parents determined to see her happy as a girl.

After Danièle’s best friend and childhood crush agrees to act as a surrogate for her, Danièle learns that the clinic can extract sperm from her own gonadal biopsies, so she becomes the biological father of Melanie’s baby herself.

Ethan adores the graceful young woman named Danièle, while Melanie imagines a life with the father of her children. Danièle? She’s happy with her intersex body—somewhere between princess and little boy. But in a black and white world, she must choose—once and for all—who she will be. And whom she will love.

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