Breaking news from last night: MTV’s Faking It – Season 2 (premieres Tuesday, September 23rd) will feature an intersex character! From The Hollywood Reporter:

On Faking ItBailey De Young portrays Lauren, a hyper-feminine bitchy teen who is the sister (by marriage) to Rita Volk‘s Amy, who in season one, faked a lesbian relationship with her best friend Karma (Katie Stevens), to move up the social ladder at an Austin high school.bailey_faking_it_still

Season one ended with a cliffhanger for Lauren, who flipped out after rumors started flying about mysterious pills she was taking regularly. The season two premiere will reveal that Lauren regularly takes hormones and was born with Androgen Insensitive Syndrome, a type of intersex condition that means she was born with male chromosomes but develops as a female.

As many of you know, my YA contemporary book None of the Above also features a main character with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, or AIS. More importantly, the consultants that MTV worked with from Advocates for Informed Choice and Inter/Act (their youth branch – check out their amazing FAQ here) are some of the incredible people I met at this year’s AIS-DSD conference. Their board member Arlene Baratz was one of the people who vetted None of the Above, and offered a lovely blurb:

“Smartly and compassionately written for a young adult audience, None of the Above puts a new twist on the theme of adolescent difference and acceptance.”

-Arlene Baratz MD (Moderator,  Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome- Differences of Sex Development Parents Group www.aisdsd.org)

I am so, so psyched that MTV is putting a spotlight on intersex, because after I sold my book and started to tell my family and friends about it, I realized the huge gap in knowledge about intersex even among medical professionals. There is so much work still to be done to create intersex awareness. So below, the top 5 myths I’ve had to debunk in the year since my book sold:

 

Myth #1: Intersex = Transgender

This is a very common misconception. To the point where, when I told a doctor friend that I was going to an intersex conference, he laughed and said “Well, it’s appropriate then that it’s in San Francisco!” Then he realized his mistake.

Let’s talk about sex (and the difference between sex and gender). Ladies and gentleman, I present the Genderbread Person:

 

A person’s sex refers to ones biology – their sexual anatomy at birth – which sometimes correlates with ones chromosomes, but not always. Besides the usual XX and XY chromosomal set, people can be XXY, XO, and even have different sets of chromosomes in different cells.

Gender, however, refers to how a person perceives oneself and wishes to be identified on the gender spectrum.

Intersex individuals are people born with either external or internal sex characteristics that are different than the “typical” male or female. Transgender individuals are people who are born “typically” male or female, but who do not identify as their birth gender (the stereotypical woman trapped in a man’s body). They may often use medical intervention (hormones and surgery) to help them match their identified gender with their birth gender.

Because of these definitions, you can actually be both intersex AND transgender. But not all intersex individuals are transgender.

 

Myth #2: Intersex people are born with both vaginas and penises

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I’m absolutely delighted to announce that in the next few months I’ll be at New York Comic Con, NCTE and NAIBA:

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September 20th, 2014, 7pm-8pm: New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) – Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Arlington, VA

I’ll be signing some hot-off-the-press ARCs of None of the Above at NAIBA’s #WeNeedDiverseBooks reception. There’s an amazing guest list (including some of my very favorite people in the world) which you can see here!
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This weekend, I feel blessed and privileged to be attending the 19th annual AIS-DSD Support Group Conference in San Francisco, CA (for those of you who aren’t familiar with intersex alphabet soup, AIS-DSD stands for the Androgen Insensitity Syndrome – Differences of Sex Development).

AISDSD
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Super exciting news, guys!

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks team is thrilled to announce that we’ve been invited to give a panel at BookCon [for those not involved in publishing, BookCon is the consumer event associated with Book Expo America (BEA), which happens to be the largest book event in the country]!

And I’ll be moderating! I can’t be more honored to be talking about the important issue of diversity in literature, in conversation with multiple-award-winning authors Grace Lin, Matt de la Peña and Jacqueline Woodson.

(I’m sorry if I’ve used my exclamation point quota already. Needless to say, we’re all PSYCHED.)
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Guys, I’m so excited to tell y’all that NONE OF THE ABOVE now has an official release date:

April 28, 2015

…which means that my book will be published WITHIN A YEAR, which makes me feel a combination of this (credit maxafax):

excited baby

and this (credit reactiongifs.com):

which basically adds up to this (credit wondermentsofme):

Friends

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Laura Plus Books

I’m totally embarrassed to come into LGBTQ YA month so late, but as you saw from my previous post, #amrevising. As usual, I was clued into this terrific corner of the blogsphere by Dahlia Adler, whose QUILTBAG compendium I’m still referring readers to.
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The lovely Heather Marie has tagged me in the Writing Process blog tour! I’m taking it as an opportunity to write about Diversity in YA, which has been a topic that’s taken up a lot of my Twitter feed lately, and for good reason:

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side effects coverI am so very excited to celebrate the launch of Julie Murphy’s much-anticipated YA contemporary novel, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY. Julie’s a fantastic, nuanced writer, and we share the same editor, the amazing Alessandra Balzer. At the recent ALA midwinter conference, I was thrilled to see SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY presented at the Harper Book Buzz, where it was described as “fearless and funny,” with the panelists saying “we can’t recommend it highly enough.” I completely agree.  Continue reading

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I’ve been going to writers’ conferences for years, but this past weekend’s NY SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers) conference was particularly fun: It was the first one I attended as a contracted author.

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It was a great time. Inspiring as always, and surprisingly stress-free when you’re not going in with high hopes for a critique. At the same time, attending the conference was somewhat bittersweet, because I saw myself in the hundreds of aspiring writers who weren’t in my position. The hope in those conference rooms was palpable, and as I met person after person who was in the querying trenches, or agented but not yet published, I couldn’t help feeling some survivor guilt.

It’s the flip side of professional jealousy, which has been wonderfully documented in essays by Philip LopateBonita FriedmanAlison Cherry,  Susan Adrian, Suzanne Ferrell Smith with Cheryl Wilder and Donna Gambale, among others. Instead of feeling left behind, I worried about being the person leaving people behind, especially when I hung out with my new Fearless Fifteeners friends. I didn’t want to be THAT PERSON.
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