My mother used to share a story about a time when I was two years old. She’d purchased a beautiful “pink fairy princess dress,” which billowed with crinoline layers. As the story goes, I refused to put it on.
In fact, I threw such a fit that finally in exasperation, she asked, “Why won’t you wear this dress?” to which I reportedly replied, “Because I am me!”
Years later, I wrote “Double Exposure” because like my character Alyx, I have struggled with “societal gender expectations” since the day I was born. People often described me as “androgynous-looking” or mistook me as a boy. Even now, well into my adult life, except for a short period when I wore my hair long, I notice women anxiously checking public restroom doors to make sure they had the right one.
The intersex experience straddles the split cultural gender expectation creating an opportunity to consider a “third” sex if you will, and moving the conversation beyond traditional notions of “sexual orientation,” or “gender dysphoria.” It goes to the heart of what it means to be who we are, exactly as we are.
Each of us carries the qualities of that which is feminine and that which is masculine. Those of us who straddle gender borders are often pressured overtly or covertly to “fit” in one camp or the other. Like Alyx, this can be exceptionally challenging for young people, who, like Alyx, “…still need to pick a @#*&%! locker room!”
I wrote about a teen athlete because I watched, along with the world, with curious compassion, the plight of the South African Olympian runner Caster Semenya. When I saw the first feminized make over of her on the cover of Time Magazine, my heart filled with sadness, for her, and for a world. Knowledge is power, and it is my hope that as human beings continue to evolve, we will become people who recognize, honor and embrace the beautiful gift of diversity, whether old or young, artist or athlete, regardless of race, nationality, creed or gender.