“You don’t have to be intersex to be able to relate to my story. Everyone is going through something they don’t feel like they can share. This story is for them as well."
Growing up in the late 1970's there was no conversation around gender identity. You were either male or female. Period, end of discussion.
Times have changed. The way we currently think about gender has evolved. Each day brings greater mainstream awareness to its non-binary nature -- and the innate fluidity of gender roles and identity.
Take a moment to imagine the experience of being intersex -- a condition in which an individual is born with genetic variations on conventional sex characteristics.
Now imagine trying to navigate the world from this non-binary biological disposition.
This is the story of Kendra Little.
Raised as a girl, at age 12 Kendra learned that she was born with something called androgen insensitivity syndrome, a variation of intersex that affects between 2 to 5 out of 100,000 people. The news prompted Kendra to isolate. Adopting a hormone protocol on the advice of her doctors, she remained a ‘girl’, proceeded to never discuss her condition with anybody and dove headlong into sports -- a place where she excelled and felt at home.
But eventually the emotional dissonance between her true self and that which she held out to the world became too much to bear, prompting her to walk away from a promising career as a professional golfer. But that disconnect ultimately catalyzed an amazing journey of self-discovery -- and eventually wholeness.
Now able to fully embrace her own unique identity (very recently I might add), Kendra is publicly sharing her story -- with both courage and pride. The intention isn't self-serving, but motivated by a genuine desire to change the way we think about non-binary gender constructs. To bring comfort to those ashamed of how they were born. And to openly permit sharing the many forms of loneliness, pain and shame so many of us keep hidden.
This past July, Kendra tweeted me a video entitled Becoming More -- her story in mini-doc form created by Uninterrupted, LeBron James’ production company.
I click play. Instantly, I’m captivated by Kendra’s appearance. Her facial features present as simultaneously male and female. She's both, but also neither. Kendra is truly her own unique form of humanity. But her appearance is quickly eclipsed by her strength and vulnerability -- and the compelling narrative that unfolds.
I knew immediately this was a special person I wanted to know better. A fascinating story I wanted to help tell. And quite honestly, a subject matter of social importance and cultural relevance I wanted to better understand.
So here we are. Kendra, I honor you for your courage in trusting me with this conversation, a privilege I don't take lightly.
This one is special. May it be as enjoyable and enlightening as it was for me.
Peace + Plants,
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- Connect with Kendra: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Uninterrupted: Becoming More
- USA Today: Former pro golfer Kendra Little describes gender-identity struggle and why she left sport
- Portland Tribune: Kendra Little goes public as intersex athlete
- Golf Week: Former pro golfer shares her journey struggling with gender identity and why she left the sport
- Vox: “I am a woman and I am fast”: what Caster Semenya’s story says about gender and race in sports
- NY Times: Caster Semenya Barred From 800 Meters at World Championships
- Guardian: Semenya loses landmark legal case against IAAF over testosterone levels
- Guardian: Caster Semenya is a victim of rules that are confusing and unfair
- Washington Post: What are the issues behind the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling in Caster Semenya case?
- The Sun: Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya ‘does have advantage'
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