Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodie by Lianne Simon

Born between the sexes, Jamie must leave behind a young girl's dreams to become the man her family expects. Jamie was born with a testis, an ovary, and a pixie face. He could be a boy after minor surgery and a few years on testosterone. At least, that's what his parents always say; but he sees an elfin princess in the mirror. When a medical student tells Jamie that he should have been raised female, he explores and discovers the life he could have as a girl. The elfin princess can thrive, but will she risk losing her family and her education for a boyfriend who may leave her, and a toddler she may never be allowed to adopt?

First line:  “Pain, sharp and insistent, dragged me back toward consciousness.”

Wow. Just wow. I think this topic was handled extremely well by the author. She delved into not only the obvious experiences of this disorder, but also the psychological effects as well.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book. I’ve never met a person who is intersex, or if I unknowingly have, I don’t really know what their life is like. The closest I’d have to compare is a friend who is gender dysphoric. She is physically a female, but at sometimes doesn’t know if she identifies as a boy or girl. The same thing is true with Jamie, the main character of this book. She pretends to be a male for her families sake, but really “the little princess” just wants to be a girl and wear dresses and grow her hair long.

I say “the little princess” because, I realized, this is Jamie’s coping mechanism. The brain has brilliant ways of surviving, and this happened to be Jamie’s way. She has this whole personality hiding inside her – called Iseabail, Jamie’s middle name. Iseabail is Jamie’s…you could say alter ego? It’s the female version of Jameson, the young version of Jamie. Iseabail never really left childhood and is constantly there in Jamie’s thoughts, telling her “it’s wrong to be a boy, make us completely female”. At first, I wasn’t really into this whole “little princess” thing, but as I started examining the book more in-depth, I realized how essential the psychological process was

While I don’t agree with the religion used in this book, I am amazed that Jamie stayed a devout Christian. I mean, her life was so hard. She has her family, and her family’s church telling her that god wants her to be male, while everyone else says she’s supposed to be female. But she manages to keep her faith, and for that I’ve got to commend her.

I’d have to say the one thing I didn’t like was the passage of time and the late revelation of what the time period is. The time passes somewhat confusingly. It’s one day, then all of a sudden, it’s weeks later. And the late revelation of time…I started this book thinking it was set in present day. But as the story progressed, I realized it was during the Vietnam war. I just wish this would have been more obvious earlier on.

This is definitely a book I’d recommend. Seriously, I’m actually going to school tomorrow and recommend this to my old psychology teacher. I just feel like it’s something different, on the edge of fiction and non-fiction, and something that isn’t really discussed much surprisingly. So, if you read this, tell me what you think, because I’d love to know!


Favorite quotes:


Pg. 40

His grin returned in force. “‘Hello. I’m Frank’s sixteen-year-old hermaphrodite roommate?’”

“I should at least have told you how old I was.”

“Would you be offended if I thought of you as a sixteen-year-old girl with a few medical issues?”

“Not as long as you understand I have to be a boy right now.”

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