The National Post has a quick Q&A today with Kathleen Winter, author of Annabel. As I said in my original review, this is a book I admire, but can't quite bring myself to like.
I was curious to read her comments regarding the difference between being inter-sexed and being transgendered, primarily because I felt Wayne/Annabel could just as easily have been written as a more traditional transgendered/transsexual character.
"It’s not like being transgendered because it’s nearly always erased at birth and often the child doesn’t know about it. It’s not a choice the child makes . . . The doctors decide with your parents . . . And then you’re not told."
So, for Kathleen, it's not about the gender ambiguity itself. Instead, her focus was on how that ambiguity is resolved and who gets to make the determination. I don't think that focus was quite so clear in the book, but it definitely does put a bit of a different spin on things.
One other comment she made really struck me as interesting, because it could be asked of any individual whose gender or sexual identity doesn't match the 'norm.'
"I wanted to look at whether it really is a disorder or whether it’s society deciding it’s not what we want and erasing it."
Is the fact that we're different really a disorder, or is it just a matter of perception? Very good question - it's one that is really at the heart of a lot of speculative fiction, which is why I enjoy that genre so much. When you turn societies on their head and redefine what's normal, then all else is fair game.
Check out the complete article at the National Post website.