Born Both: Books about the Intersex Experience

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Hida Viloria was raised a girl, but always felt different. It wasn’t just Born Both, Hida Viloria, Hachette Books, 2017that they were attracted to girls, but unlike many other people in the first world who are born intersex–meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female–Viloria’s parents did not have their genitals surgically modified at birth. Which means Viloria grew up in the body they were born with.

Viloria’s new memoir Born Both hits shelves March 14, 2017 and details what it was like growing up intersex, what it was like to find the intersex community later in life, and what it means to occupy a space between genders. It’s a great starting point for readers who want to learn more about the intersex experience.

But Viloria’s memoir shouldn’t be the only book about the intersex experience on your TBR. Here are four more you should be picking up when you’re finished reading Born Both.

Pantomime by Laura Lam (Tor Books)

After running away from home Gene assumes the alter ego Micah Grey and joins the circus as an aerialist. It seems like the perfect cover – no one needs to know that she was born both male and female or about her unwanted magical abilities. But it doesn’t take long for Gene to discover a much darker side to the circus she now calls home.

Annabel, Kathleen Winter, House of Anansi Press, 2012Annabel by Kathleen Winter (House of Anansi Press)

From the circus to the cold, often unforgiving landscape of 1968 Labrador, Canada. Raised as a boy, Wayne grows up surrounded by men, fishing and hunting out on the land. His parents have kept the truth from him for years and as a result he grows up confused, unable to understand why he feels the way he does, and he carries within in a “shadow-self,” who he names Annabel.

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (HarperCollins)

Gregorio’s début novel, is a moving and thoughtful book, about a young intersex girl. Specifically a girl who has androgen insensitivity syndrome, she looks and feels like a girl, but she has male chromosomes and male genitalia. This is a great book to give to teen readers – it’s well researched, engaging and could easily lead to some great discussions in the classroom or the home.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin (Simon & Schuster)Golden Boy, Abigail Tarttelin, 2013, Simon & Schuster

Max was raised as a boy and as a result only a few people in his life know that he is actually intersex. But when one of those people violates his trust and rapes him, Max’s entire world is turned upside down. What happens next is told through a variety of perspectives, including characters of different ages, genders and profession, which really illustrate how different education or societal pressures influence people’s opinions and prejudices. It’s an extremely emotional novel but once you pick it up you’ll have a hard time putting it down again.

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