LYNNELL STEPHANI LONG
July 20, 2014 / San Francisco, California, USA
Hi, my name is Lynnell Stephani Long, and I am intersexed. I was born in Chicago, U.S.A. I’m an intersex activist and educator. I am 50 years-old. I know I don’t look it. Thank you. I was born with PAIS and hypospadias. The doctor told my mom when I was born that I would need additional hormonal treatment. I think I was 8 years-old when I took my first pill. It was harsh because I was already shy and effeminate. So, to be put in a hospital environment where my androgyny stood out it was like 'Whoa.' I ended up being part of a clinical research center where every year I'd be hospitalized for a month at a time with other people from around the world.
They studied us to see why we were intersexed. I did the hospitalization things because my doctor told me that I could be 'normal' my doctor said all you have to do is take these pills, take testosterone injections. Oh yeah, by the way, I was raised male. I was a little effeminate androgynous little boy on the South Side of Chicago. And, if you're familiar with the Chicago area you know I probably escaped my life because I was barely beat up or anything. In the black community when you stick out like that unfortunately you get targeted.
I'm short, effeminate and when I reach age 14 and I started growing breasts. I knew something was going on but I didn't pay attention to my body that much. So, I was in the boys' locker room for swimming and these boys started teasing me and calling me a girl. I was like What are you talking about? They said, You're growing breasts. And, I looked and I had the beginning of breasts of a young girl. I told them I was on some medication.
I got picked on. I got thrown in the swimming pool. That was kid's stuff. The hurtful stuff was that I had to continue to take showers in the boys' locker room even after I told my doctors, even after I told my Mom I was being bullied.
Now, I have the pleasure of educating people around the world on intersex. My message is always to the parents but today I want to touch on African-American community. What I do is important because what it does is it stops the stigmatization of kids that are born intersex at an early age so that they can grow up to be healthy adults. It’s important for me that people in the African-American community remember that No Body Is Shameful ®.
If I had a message for doctors I think my message would probably be simple: “Just listen to the patient.” I wish my doctors had listened to me more when I was in the hospital when I was a kid for more than 10 years of my life.
(Phone rings loudly) (Laughter)
If I had a message to parents it would be: Listen to your child. This is really important stuff that we’re doing because we’re saving lives. As an intersex activist and educator when I meet someone that’s intersex and they never knew they were intersex before because they didn’t have their medical records. I have to be the one to help them get their medical records, and while I don’t mind because it’s stuff I love to do I don’t want to be the one to have to bring them up all the time.
I’m a paramedic right now. I get to save lives. I like saving lives which is why I’m an intersex activist and a paramedic. I get to drive fast. Really fast. Lights and sirens fast. So, thank you guys for listening. Thank you. Namaste. ©