A Safe Place To Learn






Nobody told me I was intersex when I was a child. I’m not even sure how much my parents knew. Back then, physicians often kept such things a secret. After my health improved, my mother didn’t take me to the doctors, anyhow. As a nurse, she handled my medical care herself. And I’m not certain she would have told my father anything.

All I knew was that I was the smallest of my peer group and had a cute pixie face. It wasn’t until fifth grade that a classmate was shorter than me. Karen was her name. She and I used to play hopscotch during recess.  Until one day our principal said I had to play with the boys.

I have spatial deficits, okay? I can’t learn to dance or play basketball. As a child, I also had hypermobile joints. I didn’t have much in the way of muscle development. And until high school, I was smaller than all of the guys. I didn’t care if people thought I threw like a girl and ran like a girl—teasing I could handle. But playing with the boys got me hurt.

In fifth grade I had my first crush. Jim invited me over to listen to a new group—the Beatles. We sat on his bed while he sang their love songs to me. I dreamed of marrying him and having his babies. I begged my parents to let me grow my hair long, but they said I’d look like a girl.

1963_Eleven_CloseupHair(my hair, Mom's dress)_65

Well, yeah. You think so? My XO cell line gave me a small jaw, which made my face more feminine than it otherwise would have been.

Fifth grade would have been an appropriate time to speak with a psychologist about gender. And explore my options. But such wasn’t available. Even to a feminine intersex kid. So I shut down and became the geeky student who never spoke to anyone but still managed to break the grading curves.

My SAT score was 1552. They say my IQ is 161. I survived K through 12. Some kids don’t. Especially kids who are different. Outsiders get bullied. Outsiders may not get as much help from their teachers. On occasion, their grades are lower simply because they’re different.

My college threatened to expel me for being too feminine. I survived that as well. By the grace of a loving God, because I didn’t have much human help.

I’m a Christian. Whatever I’m supposed to believe about LGBT kids, I know this—bullying isn’t right. That’s why I’m on the board of Pride School Atlanta. Because kids who are different need our love. And a  safe place where they can flourish.

This year my royalty payments for A Proper Young Lady will go toward funding Pride School Atlanta. Yeah, that’s not much. But, you know, every little bit makes a difference.

So, buy a book. Or contribute directly to Pride School Atlanta here.


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