A touching story in Pacific Standard about people born as intersex individuals caught my attention today. Writer Alice Dreger begins by quoting a note she received from a man named Jim; he wrote to her about a community resource Dreger helped establish that he says “basically saved my life.” Jim was born with androgen insensitivity syndrome.
I offered to meet the next morning at the local tea place. And then I started wondering, as I often do with these out-of-the-blue communiqués, if this message was a fake. Was I being set up?
But the minute I saw Jim, I knew he was real. I knew he was real because he started crying, and couldn’t talk. It was a reaction I’d seen before among people with disorders of sex development (DSD) who had been too closeted to meet another person with their condition, but who could get up the gumption to ask to meet me. I served as a way out of the closet, and so I represented the first human they came upon when they opened the door. I always tried, in my reaction, to signal simply, “Yes, you are a fellow human, and I am glad you are here.” I always have trouble not crying myself.
Previously: Is the International Olympic Committee’s policy governing sex verification fair?, Researchers challenge proposed testosterone testing in select female Olympic athletes and Bay Area’s first DSD parent support group meets this week
Related: Stanford author explores struggles of intersex individuals, their families and doctors and Karkazis on intersex people