Steph Lum: “Intersex self-love”

Steph Lum

Steph Lum. Photo by Georgia Andrews, glasses by Irene Kuzemko.

Steph Lum (co-chair, IHRA) has won a prize for the poem “Intersex self-love”, in the Canberra SpringOut essay competition. This inaugural competition was supported by SpringOUT in partnership with the Equal Rights Coalition. Congratulations, Steph!

You know what happened
When they tried to make you normal
All those appointments you hated
Where they looked at you
Touched you

It was actually a training program. It’s called:

How to hate your body or become so detached from it it’s no longer yours

It’s quite a rigorous program
but when they start you early it soon becomes
your normal

It trains you to think about yourself in a certain way
There must be something wrong with you
It trains you to be unsure of boundaries
Unsure if you can say no
It trains you to seek approval for your body
From older men around you
Afterall, they were the ones who got to say
Whether you had to come back

When they changed you, you wondered, am I normal now?
You weren’t sure so you asked your mum
She said that now you’ll be able to marry one day
You were six

You still weren’t sure
See when they took something from you they put something in its place
The need for constant validation
A man to make you feel normal
What you didn’t know then was you would never be sure
Not as long as you kept asking others to answer the question for you

But it’s all part of the training program
They trained you to ask the question
And then it was time to graduate
You know, you were one of their most successful graduates, for a time
Maybe that’s why they took so many photos
Funny they didn’t notice the flowers you got when you were leaving
I guess they didn’t know then
What yellow and purple orchids can do

Congratulations to Steph, and to Shara Jenkins for the work “pride cbr love is love”.

More information

The SpringOUT essay competition winners