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Saturday, January 14, 2017

None of the Above

None of the Above
by I.W. Gregorio

[Note: Recommended for 18+ due to physically intimate situations; also included are biological and physiological information regarding reproductive anatomy and disorders of sexual development.]


A practicing surgeon by day and a YA writer by night, Ms. Gregorio is also a founding member of We Need Diverse Books ™ dedicated to advocating changes to the publishing industry in order to help create and promote inclusive literature that honors the lives of all young people.

The book is about Kristin Lattimer, a high school senior voted homecoming queen, who finds out that she is Intersex in a rather painful and unexpected way: Krissy is a female, grows up to be a female, thinks and feels like a female, identifies as a female, is heterosexual, has external female characteristics, and yet, she has internal male reproductive organs, not the female uterus.

And, without her permission, this information is leaked to the school, which spins out of control. Her struggles in school, in life, to come to terms with this and to do what is surgically possible for "normalizing" makes up a good chunk of the book, with the associated drama and complications in relationships and friendships and heartbreaks.

Author Gregorio has done a brilliant job of explaining the medical and biological facts, while very gently yet firmly showing the emotional turmoil that people with AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) go through, and the adjustments they have to make in their lives to accommodate this constraint. At times, the kids sound pedagogical with the medical information conveyed to the reader in chunks, but, their interactions and relationships are very much in tune with what is expected from teenagers overall.

It is impossible not to root for Kristin and jump in to defend her against the insensitive bullies. What was heartbreaking for me was when she was removed from the track team because there was an issue of her gender - she cannot compete in the girls' track events as she is not 100% a girl - after training hard and being the best; and, she was put in a position where she couldn't go on using the girls' bathroom.

Through it all, she has a steadfast friend, and there is a sweet budding romance that comes from shared experience and a deeper understanding of oneself.

Why are humans obsessed with highlighting the differences and excluding fellow humans on that count? Is there any hope for a gender neutral society in our future?

[image source: www.amazon.com]

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