Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon

About Lianne Simon  

Over the past decade I’ve answered inquiries on behalf of a support group for the parents of children born between the sexes. However, as the Internet has grown, so have the options available. The Androgen Insensitivity Support Group, for instance, accepts girls with various differences of sexual development. With groups like AISSG flourishing, my time can be put to better use elsewhere.
In addition to working with the parents of intersex children, I had the privilege of making the acquaintance of a number of intersex adults. As a Christian I was disturbed by the lack of understanding on the part of the Church for people born outside the normal boundaries of male and female. The kids aren’t a part of anyone’s ‘agenda.’ Even when they have gender issues related to their condition or the treatment they’ve received.
My book, Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite, is based on a number of people I know and some of the things that happened to them growing up, all rolled up into a fictional account of a teenager’s struggle to find a place in this world. Also, visit her at http://www.liannesimon.com/.

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite Description:

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?

Excerpt Chapter Three

Lying on a feather bed underneath a pile of quilts, breathing the cold night air—could even a princess have asked for a more pleasant sleep? Stretching and yawning, I rubbed my eyes with balled fists. Muted noises somewhere in the house meant Mom was up. Soon she’d be telling me and Alicia to get ready for home school. I rolled over, bunched the soft pillow around my head, and pushed the hair away from my face. The last little bit of sleep was always the best.
An errant ray caught my eye. Bright light peeked around the drapes, too intense for an Oswego winter morning. This could only mean one thing. Snow! The little princess bounced up out of bed, clapped her hands together, and squealed at the thought of a white Christmas. I poked my head between the drapes, expecting a winter wonderland.
Bright sunshine dazzled my eyes. Tears formed as I blinked away the blinding colors. Behind the neighbor’s house a majestic rainfall stretched skyward to heavy cumulus clouds. God’s rainbow soared off into the distance. Memories of the previous day awakened me from my half-sleep and brought me back to the present. Ooh! The world was so much more alive without Jameson.
In the yard a magnolia tree spread limbs heavenward, dozens of lilac and cream blossoms declaring the beauty of creation. Great drops rolled off their petals and fell to the earth. Nearby, mist rose from puddles already returning to the clouds. Butterflies played tag among the hibiscus blooms. A hummingbird dallied within arm’s reach outside my window, winked, and zipped away. An enchanted land, it seemed, that fair place the humans named Coral Gables. Fully awake now, I pulled the drapes open, spun around on tiptoes, and waltzed to the bathroom.
A shaggy-haired girl frowned at me from the bathroom mirror. She wasn’t a real princess, you know, but even a waif expected to have her hair trimmed once in a while. She narrowed her eyes at me, but I spread my hands apart. “You shouldn’t expect Jameson to keep his hair all pretty. At least he didn’t cut it short.” The girl glared at me from under her brows until I turned away.
“It’s not my fault his hair’s a mess,” I whispered as I brushed out the snarls. “And look,” I said, holding up a golden lock. “Isn’t the color pretty? There’s more sun in my hair now. You can’t tell whether I’m a blonde or a redhead anymore.” She stared back at me, unimpressed. “Okay,” I whispered, “So maybe Sharon will trim the ends for us.”
The princess in the mirror scowled at me when I took off Jameson’s pajama bottoms. She didn’t like seeing what was down there because it proved she wasn’t a girl like she thought. She only had a pretty face and small size. “Don’t be sad, princess,” I tried to reassure her. “Sharon said you were supposed to be a girl. Maybe you will be when you grow up.”
I took a quick shower. Boy clothes were all I had—I couldn’t expect Jameson to keep girl clothes, now could I? He had no fashion sense anyway; all he wore were T-shirts and blue jeans. I dressed in the cleanest ones I found and went in search of my new friend.
Sharon was making coffee when I walked into the kitchen. “Good morning, Miss Sharon. Would you please trim my hair?”
She flinched and turned pale before nodding. “Trim…Sure…Go shampoo. I’ll find some scissors.”
In the guest bath again I glanced at the princess. “Should we use the sink to wash our hair?” I grinned at her, feeling a little mischievous. Jameson had to use the shower. That was one of those stupid boys-don’t rules. Back when being a girl was okay, Mom used to wash mine in the sink.
The little princess strolled out of the bathroom about ten minutes later, a towel wrapped around her head. I grinned when I realized that was breaking another of Jameson’s rules.
Sharon studied me from under her brows. “Would you like your hair cut short?”
Memories of my first buzz cut almost knocked me down. Even as a teenager, I fought against tears whenever Dad got out the clippers. My hands rose instinctively to shield my head. “No, ma’am. I only want my hair trimmed.”
Sharon smiled the way Mom used to whenever I got scared. She pulled up a kitchen chair and asked the little princess to sit. Then she wrapped a towel around my shoulders. “Your hair’s beautiful. You should take better care of it.”
My hair had gotten so tangled up with the whole boy-girl thing, letting Jameson do anything at all with it was hard. I craned my neck to gaze up at Sharon. “I’m sorry. Jameson isn’t any good at that.”
Sharon stared at me. I counted heartbeats until she pulled up another chair and sat down facing me. With one hand she brushed the hair out of my eyes. “Where’s Jameson now?” she whispered.
Deep inside, stacks of rules were all there was of him. I touched one to make sure everything was still okay. Then I smiled and tilted my head. “I took him apart. He’s not a real person, you know.”
A wisp of cloud crossed Sharon’s face, leaving a faint trail of distress. “Are you?”
“I hope so.” I chuckled, a soft melody at first, like wind chimes in the breeze. How long had it been since the little princess made a sound like that? When I realized that giggling was against another one of Jameson’s ridiculous gender rules, the insanity of it all bubbled up out of me as musical laughter.
The sound appeared to banish Sharon’s concern. Her smile turned carefree. “So…what’s your name?”
“I’m Jamie. You said you wanted to be my friend.”
“I do. I’m sorry. I was confused, that’s all.”
“You said you’d trim my hair.”
“I will.”
Sharon stood in front of me, a hand on either side of my head. Her face knotted up in concentration as she studied the little princess. “I think you’d be pretty with your hair cut just below your chin. Is that all right?”
Ooh! “That sounds neat.”
When Sharon finished, she asked me to go look in the mirror. The pretty little princess reflected there squealed with delight. She started crying, though. The princess hadn’t had a girl’s haircut in forever. I brushed my hand across the glass to wipe away her tears. “It’ll be okay now,” I whispered. You shouldn’t lie to her. You know Jameson can’t go back to the dorm like that. I dropped my hand and turned away, whispering, “Let her be happy for a while. Okay?”
I went back to the kitchen and thanked Sharon for the pretty hairstyle. Mom didn’t want hair in Jameson’s eyes, so I asked my friend for a barrette.
“There’s one on the dresser you can use. I’d like to speak with you after you get it.”
“Okay,” I piped and headed for the guest room again. The girl in the mirror grinned at me this time, her green eyes flashing as I pinned her hair back. It was only for a day, but neither of us cared. I winked at her and bounced back down the hall to the kitchen.
Sharon motioned for me to sit at the kitchen table, and then sat across from me. I imagined her with her white coat and stethoscope, hair tied back and face all intense. For some reason I found her medical student seriousness amusing. It only broadened my grin when she leaned toward me and asked, “Last night, you said you were a girl when you were young. Would you explain that?”
It seemed a strange question to ask first, but perhaps this was a medical student’s way of making friends. “I was small. When I played with boys, I got hurt, so my parents let me play with other girls. When I asked, Mom taught me cooking, and sewing, and all. My parents bought me dolls. I thought being a girl was okay.”
“What did you play?”
“Kaylah, and Alicia, and I played house and dress-up—” An old memory derailed my train of thought, leaving behind an image of Dad’s sad eyes when his happy little princess explained why she had a pillow tucked under her shirt. My sad eyes glanced at Sharon. “Sometimes I was a mommy.”
Sharon’s eyes lingered on mine. “Kaylah’s your cousin who was at the hospital?”
Had Sharon met her? “Yeah. We used to be neighbors.”
“You’re living as a boy now. What happened?”
Images from my childhood tumbled across my vision, like leaves on a windy fall day. My hands clenched on the wooden edge of the kitchen table as my world spun. I lay on cold steel, crying and alone. Doctors surrounded me, talking to each other. One poked my belly. Another examined me between my legs. “When I was nine, we went to a doctor in Chicago because my parents thought I was too small.”
I took several deep breaths, trying to slow my racing heart. My body trembled on the examining table. Why isn’t Mom stopping them? “I told the doctor I liked being a small girl. He said I had to be a boy.” I tore my eyes away from Sharon, trying to hold back the surging ocean of depression. “We moved. In Springfield they didn’t let me do girl things, and I couldn’t play with Kaylah anymore.”
Waves crashed over me, sweeping me off my feet. I had been hysterical when they pulled me away from my cousin. Alicia and I had clung to each other as our family left Oswego for the last time.
A barricade snapped into place, shutting out the images, protecting me, leaving only the indistinct shadow of childhood memories. The pain receded, but I struggled to catch my breath. “Mom took away my dolls. My parents kept my hair short.”
Tense muscles eased somewhat. I glanced at Sharon. A single tear spoiled her medical student detachment. I smiled, sure she was my friend. “Last year, my mom took me to one of the doctors she works with. He gave me shots. After a while, my voice started to change. I hated that, so I figured out how to get early admission to college, and here I am.” I stared down at the table and grimaced. “Or at least here Jameson is.”
“What do you mean?” Her voice was soft and gentle. Not the usual Sharon.
“I’m not allowed to be a girl, so I built a pretend boy. I started making him when we moved to Springfield. He’s not a real boy, you know, but he’s good enough for most people.”
“Why don’t you be a girl?”
“I’m not allowed. You saw me without clothes. I’m not a girl between my legs. So—”
“You’re not a boy either,” insisted Sharon.
Because I was part elfin princess? Because I had to sit down to pee? Because I wasn’t good at boy things? At times I wanted to be a boy more than anything. “It would be neat to be tall, and strong, and fast, and play sports.” I shrugged, still wondering what Sharon was thinking. “I’m not good at being a boy, but I’m not allowed to be a girl either.”
Sharon stared at the little princess, wheels turning. She appeared to be planning my future. I wondered whether she would ask me what I wanted or be like all the doctors who did whatever they liked. After a while longer, Sharon nodded. “Why not be a girl until you graduate? You wouldn’t need to tell your parents.”
“They aren’t stupid, Sharon. I can’t stay here until I graduate. Mom and Dad want me home for the summer.” They wouldn’t like the elfin princess. They’d cut her hair.
Sharon sighed, and then stood up. “Well, I promised Tyler I would do some baking for Christmas.”
The princess had her own little red apron. White streaks of flour ran across the front. The small dark spots were probably either butter or lard. How many times had I helped my mom cook? I jumped up out of the chair. “May I help? Mom and I used to bake cakes and cookies for Christmas.”
“Sure. Why not? Why don’t you find out how much flour and sugar are in the pantry? Look, don’t lift. I’ll find some recipes.”
“I remember our recipes for shortbread and for sugar cookies, and the Hershey’s Cocoa tin has a recipe for chocolate cake.”
Sharon made a yummy face. “Mmm! Shortbread sounds good. Why don’t we begin with that?”
“Okay. You start with two cups of flour, two-thirds of a cup of sugar, and a half teaspoon of salt in a large mixing bowl.”
Sharon measured the ingredients with care and mixed them.
“We need to cream in the butter. This way.” I smiled, picked up a stick in each hand, and squeezed them both through my fingers.
Sharon blinked at me. “Wouldn’t it be easier to melt them first?”
I shook my head, serious. “You don’t want the butter to melt the sugar.” I stuck both hands into the mixing bowl and began blending the mixture with my fingers. “You want the butter to break up into tiny pieces.” The little princess held a handful up in front of Sharon’s face to show her. “See?” Small bits fell to the floor.
“Jamie, you’re making a mess.” Sharon bent down to pick up the pieces. I reached for the washrag and accidentally bumped the bag of flour. A handful of the soft white powder spilled over the front of the cabinets. When Sharon stood again, she had flour in her hair and down one cheek. “Jamie!”
I grinned and covered my mouth with one hand, getting dough on my chin. With the other buttery hand, I tried to wipe the flour off Sharon’s face. “I’m sorry.” Giggling, the little princess began licking the batter off her hands.
Sharon scowled at me for a second before her lips trembled, and she started laughing. Seeing the always serious medical student crack up sent me into a fit that ended in tears.

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Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon
Heroines With Heart is a massive blog tour that runs throughout 2013, that features books with strong female protagonists. We have authors from several different genres, including young adult, mystery/thriller/suspense, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and Christian fiction. We are also giving away fun digital prizes and sharing new and noteworthy books throughout the year. Want updates?

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