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Middlesex
by Lynell Stephani Long
2004-08-01

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In the early 1990s, Leslie Feinberg wrote the book, Stone Butch Blues, which many people thought was a biography of Leslie's life. Although, if I recall, Leslie never agreed that the book was a biography, Leslie never denied it either. The same can be said about the book Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides. Not that the book is a biography of the author's life but that the book, in all its honesty, could easily be a biography of some Intersexual's life.

Middlesex deals with the life of someone that was born Intersex. In this case the character Callie, or Cal, has an Intersex condition called 5-alpha-reductase deficiency syndrome, which caused Cal to be born with ambiguous genitalia. The interesting concept about this book is that the character was born Intersex because of being inbred. The grandparents were brother and sister, and the mother and father were cousins.

The reason Cal was born Intersex isn't important. There are numerous reasons one can be born Intersex, from pregnant mothers receiving an endocrine-disrupting drug diethylstilbestrol to prevent miscarriage, to nature creating an extra chromosome in the body of an innocent fetus. The point is the author could have used a number of reasons why Cal was born Intersex, but nothing makes for a good read like Greek siblings deciding to get married, and have sex, on their way to America.

What appealed to me most was the emotional turmoil Cal endured growing up. And when Cal was taken to a doctor for Cal's condition, immediately the doctor used Cal as a specimen to show other doctors—exactly what I endured growing up. There comes a time when the doctor suggests to Cal's parents that Cal (yes, I am intentionally avoiding the use of pronouns) have 'cosmetic' surgery to 'fix' the appearance of Cal's genitalia. They say they could remove Cal's enlarged clitoris, and if Cal loses sexual function as a result of the surgery then at least Cal would have normal 'appearing' genitalia.

Without giving away too much of the book, for it is an interesting read, I will say this: I applauded Cal's decision to run away from home, instead of allowing the doctors to perform unnecessary cosmetic surgery to remove Cal's enlarged clitoris!

The date is set; preparations have already begun around the USA and other parts of the world for the first annual Intersex Awareness Day. Between my preparations for Ms. World Leather contest, and spending time with my girlfriend in Green Bay, Wisc., I have already secured one sponsor for the event but still need another sponsor or two to host the event and cover any expenses. As I write this column, July has just begun, Ms. World Leather contest is a month away, and October is approaching. I had hoped to secure another sponsor by now, just to ease my mind, but have failed to do so as of yet. So I am appealing to the LGBT community. My idea for Intersex Awareness Day in Chicago is to either do a presentation on Intersex and/or show the video Hermaphrodites Speaks! While I have done many presentations on Intersex, I find that a mixture of speaking, perhaps showing a 15-minute video, and leaving time for Q&A is most productive. The venue to host the event doesn't have to be extraordinary, just enough to host a bunch of folks like us! If someone could please help a sistah out send me an email to lynnellstephani@ameritech.net . Ms. World Leather contest 2004 / Daddie Millarca With IML behind me, and some successful fundraising, I prepare for the Ms. World Leather contest. The Ms. World Leather contest is known for its description, 'A different kind of contest for a different kind of woman!' Unlike a lot of other leather contests, Ms. World Leather is for leather women who are also activists. Ms. World celebrates the dedicated leather women who are working hard to make a difference in their communities around the globe. Their vision is to produce an event that will provide an opportunity for these women to continue their work and reach their full potential. This event is built to inform and educate not just the Leather community, but also those who stand outside our walls. Last year I placed 1st runner-up. Goddess Lakshimi, now known for her slogan 'Get the 411 on Breast Cancer,' is Ms. World Leather 2003. This year my platform is still Intersex, educating the leather community and beyond about the plight of the Intersex community, but I plan on executing my poster presentation—which is a category of the contest—much better than I did last year. My slogan is 'Educating from the Heart.' Of course Ms. World isn't just about the message you feel you need to carry to the leather community, it's also about the person that will wear the title of Ms. World Leather 2004. It's about modesty, humility, being an example, and not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. For me Ms. World is about allowing me to do God's will, and she has allowed me to climb to the mountain top, and I've seen the promised land! I know that Intersexuals no longer have to suffer needlessly out of shame and self-pity; out of fear of judgment or being ridiculed. I feel the courage, confidence, and self-love God has blessed me with, so I can carry across the globe to help heal the Intersexuals that were told that they should hide who they are, or that no person in their right mind can ever love them. Ms. World Leather contest is not about competing with other leather women to see who dresses the best, or how good you are at BDSM, or who you know. It's about believing in yourself and the message you carry. It's about the words, 'To thine own self be true!' With those words, with faith that what I am doing what needs to be done, and with a power greater than myself, I will travel to Dallas and compete once again for a title I feel will help me carry the message of love and shine light in every dark corner of every Intersexual that needs it all over the world! For I am not free of shame and secrecy until we all are free of shame and secrecy! 'I speak without concern for the accusations that I am too much or too little woman, too black or too white, or too much myself!' — Audre Lorde


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