by Kimberly M. Zieselman
Genres: Biography & Autobiography / LGBTQ, Nonfiction
Published on March 19, 2020
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback Source: Library


Meet Kimberly, a regular suburban housewife and mother, whose discovery later in life that she was born intersex fuelled her to become an international human rights defender and globally-recognised activist.

Charting her intersex discovery and her journey to self-acceptance, this book movingly portrays how being intersex impacted Kimberly's personal and family life, as well as her career. From uncovering a secret that was intentionally kept from her, to coming out to her family and friends and fighting for intersex rights, her candid and empowering story helps breakdown barriers and misconceptions of intersex people and brings to light the trauma and harmful impact medical intervention continues to have on the intersex community.

Written from a non-queer perspective, and filled with much-needed, straightforward information and advice about what it means to be intersex, this is a vital and timely resource for intersex people and their families, as well as the general reader.

The author had had hernia surgery as a teenager. When she was in forties she started having some pain near the surgical site. She was concerned because she remembered her doctors saying that if she didn’t have the hernia surgery there was a risk of cancer. She wanted to make sure there wasn’t any cancer. When she went to her doctor she was told that she needed to address her medical history. Her doctor said that she had been trying to discuss this with her over the years but Kimberly repeatedly shut down the conversation. Kimberly had no idea what the doctor was talking about. She got the medical records and found that she was intersex. Her hernias had been a result of having internal testes. Genetic testing showed that she had XY chromosomes but her body was insensitive to testosterone so she developed a mostly female-presenting body.

I find medical memoirs frustrating. A lot of her issues with this was being lied to. I’m not sure that she was lied to as much as she thinks. She remembered being told there was a risk of cancer. Internal testes have a higher risk of cancer. Someone talked to her about it. She admits to having a history blocking out highly emotional conversations. She never menstruated. She was on hormone replacement since her surgery. I have a feeling that a lot of doctors tried to discuss it with her. They may have done it poorly, she may have misunderstood, or she blocked it out.

That being said there is a whole discussion to be had about how intersex children have been treated. It has been routine to do surgery on kids to try to make their genitals look “normal”. That can have an affect on function and the sex the doctor makes them look like may not correspond with their gender as they mature. The goal of intersex advocates now is to delay any non-medically necessary surgery until the patient is an adult to see what, if any, is needed or wanted.

I found the parts of this book about intersex identity and advocacy very interesting. However, a lot of this book talks about her adoption of twins from China and their educational issues. I didn’t see the point of that in a book that was supposed to be focused on intersex issues.

This is a good introduction to the biology and political issues surrounding intersex people.