Title: Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite
Author Name & Publisher: Lianne Simon (Faie Miss Press)
Publication Date & Length: September 18, 2012 – 234 pgs
From the heart of an intersex teen, one who must ultimately choose male or female—family or true love—comes the story of a deeply emotional and perilous journey home. This is a young adult novel unlike any other—an authentic portrayal of the issues faced by a child growing up with a sexually ambiguous body.
Jameson can be like other boys after minor surgery and a few years on testosterone Well, at least that’s what his parents always say. But Jamie sees an elfin princess in the mirror, and male hormones would only ruin her pretty face. For him to become the man his parents expect, Jameson must leave behind the hopes and dreams of a little girl. But what is so wrong with Jamie’s dreams that they can’t be her life?
The first thing I noticed is that this book strikes that magical balance between being written for people with intersex conditions while also being educational for people who are not. The author is clearly very knowledgeable and spent considerable time and effort to create a sensitive and authentic emotional read.
The second thing is how much I adored Jamie. She starts off seeming immature, far younger than her sixteen years. As the story progresses, the reasons why become clear–from her homeschooling years to lack of puberty and a lengthy time spent living as a boy, her emotional reactions are understandable. She matures in leaps and bounds over the course of the novel, and she is someone I wish I knew in real life.
It’s probably a bit idealistic, being surrounded by such a large number of supportive people, but I loved the various people in and out of Jamie’s life. My own emotions ranged from cheering to tearing up at some of the things she goes through, all the way to the triumphant resolution.
I did struggle a bit with the very religious elements. I was worried about Jamie going from living her parents’ expectation to be a boy to simply being a submissive wife-mommy. But realistically, her personality is well-suited to a somewhat more “innocent” religious life, and I ended up feeling like she’ll be her own person regardless. It was a little tough to read, especially as an ex-evangelical, but that’s not really a flaw with the story; it’s more of a personal preference. I did appreciate the way faith was seamlessly woven into the story, even if it took a form I’m less keen on.
My own kids are a bit young yet, but this is a novel I hope to share with them as they mature. I think it will help them consider the complexities of humanity and learn more about intersex people. At the same time, I would not hesitate to recommend this one to young people who are themselves experiencing the things Jamie is in the story.
Beautifully written, absorbing, and sensitive; a win all the way around.
Lianne Simon’s father was a dairy farmer and an engineer, her mother a nurse. She grew up in a home filled with love and good books.
Tiny and frail, Lianne struggled physically, but excelled at her studies. In 1970, she was awarded a scholarship to the University of Miami, from which she graduated in 1973. Fond memories of her time there remain with her.
Some years later, after living in several states, and spending time abroad, Lianne settled in to the suburbs north of Atlanta, where she now lives with her husband and their cat.
While seeking answers to her own genetic anomalies, Lianne met a family whose daughter was born with one testis and one ovary. As a result of that encounter, she spent more than a decade answering inquiries on behalf of a support group for the parents of such children.
Lianne hopes that writing this book will, in some small way, contribute to the welfare of children born between the sexes.