In 1996 a group of people rallied to demonstrate outside of the American Academy of Pediatrics conference in Boston, Massachusetts. It had become too much to have doctors approving non-consensual surgeries on children and discrediting the realities and feelings of those born with intersex traits. The road has been long and rocky for this community, and many activists are still pushing for “control over their medical decisions, to be free from medically unnecessary interventions, and to have access to psychological and peer support” according to interACT, an organization that advocates for the rights of children. Here are our fiction picks for Intersex Awareness Day:
Dear Herculine by Aaron Apps
Dear Herculine, a harrowingly eloquent cri de coeur, melds consciousnesses and bodies across one and a half centuries, from 1832–2014. Intersexed writer Aaron Apps to intersex reader, the long-dead martyr to early gender-reassignment surgery, Herculine Barbin, speaks from a place so far inside of the abjected subject that it comes out the other end as estranged, engorged and gorgeous language, in letters comprising ‘two intersexed bodies composed of multiple parts, and the mess of flesh and text that stands between.’… A brilliant achievement that defies the triumphalism of that descriptor, Dear Herculine is a cache of love letters urgently needed to heal this world.
Waiting for Walker by Robin Reardon
Micah Jaeger’s life is a mess. His folks have split, and his mother is seeing a medium to communicate with Micah’s older brother, killed in Afghanistan. He had to change schools for his junior year, which made him retreat further into himself, hiding behind his camera—and hiding that he’s gay. One sunny day in June, as he’s shooting a dead seagull on the shore of Long Island Sound, a mysterious guy appears in a beautiful sailboat. At first, the guy’s boat shoes are the image that stays with Micah. But soon it’s the person himself, Walker Donnell, who haunts Micah’s dreams. Walker’s life looks perfect to Micah. His wealthy parents adore him. He has everything he could want. He’s gorgeous and generous. And he falls hard for Micah. But he has a secret: Walker is intersex. The closer Walker and Micah grow, the more Walker feels the need to be sure of himself in ways he hasn’t fully faced before, and now it’s his turn to retreat. Micah knows Walker is worth waiting for, so he waits. And waits.
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years, but now that the boys are getting older, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble… The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex.
Lum by Libby Ware
Lum has always been on the outside. At eight, she was diagnosed with what we now call an intersex condition and is told she can’t expect to marry. Now, at thirty-three, she has no home of her own but is shuttled from one relative’s house to another―valued for her skills, but never treated like a true member of the family. Everything is turned upside down, however, when the Blue Ridge Parkway is slated to come through her family’s farmland. As people take sides in the fight, the community begins to tear apart―culminating in an act of violence and subsequent betrayal by opponents of the new road. However, the Parkway brings opportunities as well as loss.
Book summaries via Amazon and Goodreads.