Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite
by Lianne Simon
What determines gender? Is it the chromosomes, the hormones, the internal and/or external genitalia? These are questions that most of us probably never think of or question.But there are people who struggle with this issue perhaps all their life. People born "between the sexes" struggle to live life normally without having to constantly think about or struggle with their gender. One such character is introduced in the story "Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite". While having heard of such an anomaly I have never had any dealings or information about people living with this condition. The story opened and quickly drew me into the life of Jamie, who has struggled with gender identity since age nine.
The subject is interesting and may even be considered controversial. However, it is a sensitive subject and the way it is approached in this story is a good introduction to how people with the condition live, yet the subject is treated in a sensitive way-a way that begs to be understood or at least accepted. While "sexuality" plays a big part in the story it is never treated indiscriminately nor presented in a vulgar light. Highly sensitive, perhaps even prudish, readers may get caught up in the confusion which Jamie deals with and misconstrue the journey to find oneself as a bit disturbing. But one can only imagine the disturbing aspect of living with such a disorder and the confusion that certainly rule one's life in such a roller coaster ride as this condition must bring.
The telling of the story is important and perhaps even timely. I like how the subject is brought out in the story and how it is pointed out that Hermaphrodites are neither homosexual nor transvestites, though I can see how some people might perceive it as such. However, as the story continues I felt like there were things missing, that it jumped around or over too much, that there was some disjointedness or just moved from one place to another too fast. Characters appear and reappear at times without introduction so when they are brought back in the reader may have thought they were there all along. The end of the story seemed to move too fast to bring about some closure without seemingly enough time to have dealt with some important issues in Jamie's life.
Overall it is a fairly good story with a topic that might have been approached by authors such as Jodie Picoult, yet told from a kinder, gentler, even Christian, perspective. It leaves the reader with a lot to think about on such a topic, whether or not one knows people who live with the condition.
© Stacey Kouba, 2012