Some days the struggle for acceptance and understanding as an intersex person can seem overwhelming.
For the past thirty years my husband and I have traveled to schools throughout the US and the UK, with enrichment presentations about Diversity. I am intersex, and a lesbian, and he is gay. We are lovingly married to each other in an asexual relationship. We are both writers and artists, and many of our books deal with diversity issues. We have spoken with hundreds of thousands of young people ranging from eight years old to college students. We tell our students that they can change the world for good. We tell them that it gets better. Some days we wonder if our words are getting through.
Today was an amazing day.
Dennis was meeting with a small group of students from our own local high school, in our own very small New England town library.
He talked about his experiences as a cartoonist and children’s book author, he shared with them how our society pigeonholes and stereotypes everyone, and how this practice can devastate some people.
He talked about his own struggles being ostracized for who and what he is when he was their age, and how he uses those experiences to be stronger, and to make his work better.
As I sat in the other room, I listened in on the lively discussion. Students shared their writing, talking about the stories and characters they had developed based on their own experiences.
The room suddenly got quiet. A teen stood up and began taking about a story written about a hermaphrodite. The student, in the silence, in a quivering voice, said, “I wrote this because I am intersex myself.” A moment of silence followed. I turned around in my chair to see what was happening.
The brave kid who made this announcement was standing alone, clutching a much folded piece of paper. Suddenly, as if by some invisible cue, the rest of the teens converged on the student with arms outstretched in a communal hug. Words of praise and encouragement were spoken in quiet voices, and I realized we were all crying.
I know that from a global perspective, one person’s story may seem like a small victory. But today, in this small town, in this little corner of the world, there was a great big victory.
We were right. It does get better.
Sometimes today is the day it gets better.
This is a town where our foster kid was almost hounded to death by small minded bullies and bigots. And now, a generation later, to see this kind of acceptance and gentleness…..very amazing.
We are changing the world for the better, one person at a time.
These are good victories. I know that it is horrible out there for many of us. It was for me. But here, now, today, in this small town in this corner of the world, a teen is going to bed tonight wrapped in the love and acceptance of family and friends.
We all want that.