Thursday, March 3, 2016

Growing up Intersex in the black community

I started to pick an easier topic in which to discuss but I have never been one to take the easy way out. I was the kind of kid that always snatched off the band-aids instead of peeling them off slowly.

I grew up on the south side of Chicago, in an all black community. I liked to call myself honorable child number 6, my mother had eight children. My medical career, as a patient, at the University of Chicago Hospital, began when I was around 8 years old. My mother originally took me to the hospital because I wasn't growing as fast as other kids my age.  Turned out I suffered from Growth Hormone Deficiency. One of my many diagnosis I was given.  Others include Panhypopituitarism, hypoadrenalism, hypogonadism, gynecomastia, and several others.

There was never any difference between the way I was treated by people in my community until the hospitalizations started. While I was originally treated for growth hormone deficiency once I hit puberty the madness began. ( I will write about this at another time)

I'm not sure if I was made to feel different from others, or if that was some internal fear, but being hospitalized for weeks at a time, every summer, for 8 years, can take a toll on anyone. I think instead of breaking, and losing it, I lost myself in books. To be honest I think I was treated different because I talked different, and acted different.  While I was hospitalized I socialized with a lot of people outside of my race, so my diction - the way I spoke - became proper. To me it was just another reason to be picked on.

Growing up Intersex in the black community was not easy being intersex.  No one could identify with me because I looked different.  Even though I was raised male the boys couldn't identify with me because I had breast and acted like a girl.  Some of my female friends were cool.  In a way I felt protected by the girls in my class. They prevented me from being harassed and beat-up just for being different many times.

When I first got involved in intersex activism I was sent to the University of San Diego, by the ISNA (Intersex Society of North America). I, along with several others, were to educate medical students about Intersex. It would my introduction to life as an intersex person, let along life as an intersex person of color. I was scared, and felt very intimidated.  But I knew, I've always known, the work we do as intersex activist is very important.  It's important to end the shame and secrecy of being intersex.  It's important to stop intersex genital mutilation.

When we left the University I felt a sense of accomplishment.  I knew I could do that again, stand in front of a crowd and say, "My name is Lynnell Stephani Long and I am Intersex". One thing I learned early on is when you are speaking to a crowd of people it's important to look them in the eyes.  You want them to see you as a human being, not a specimen. I wanted people to see me as a survivor, not a victim.  What happened to me, and countless other Intersex people, is devastating. That is why I do what I do.  That is why I out myself as Intersex over and over again.

I think in a way I was always destined to be an activist. To fight for those that do not have a voice.  I remember playing on the playground as a kid and defending those weaker than myself even though it would bring attention to me.  But someone had to do it.


  1. First of all I would like to say you are amazing and I think your blogs was wonderful. I'm an author and my novels features intersex characters, and I must reinterate on feature because I can not write about being intersex, it would only be done by research but I have witnessed the emotional aspects. You see I was intimately involved with an intersex person for 6 years and I watched her self destruct through drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately she passed away from her substance abuse. That's another story. I write my novels in dedication of her, you see in my storyworld my characters are everything she was not. They are confident, powerful and accepted. I express them this way because what I tried to relate to her failed. Her emotional problems were deep rooted. If she would've had at least 1/8th of the love I had, for herself maybe she would be alive today. Who knows??? (Delores Cremm)

  2. Sorry for your loss. I can say first hand it's difficult dating an Intersex person if they are not actively working on their PTSD. While we all work on it differently it is important that we do.

    I'm sure my previous lovers would say something similar about me. It wasn't until I became a practicing Buddhist that I was able to fill that empty space inside of me, and accept love.

    BTW: I would love to read one of your books.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. hi!
    i like your blog!
    i am also intersex...and of mixed origin


  5. Hi nice post written by you. It is amazing and wonderful to visit your site. Thanks a ton for such a nice post.
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