Bringing you the best in independent LGBTQ writing on life & faith

Male or Female? Yes.


Sarah Gronert  is a 27-year-old retired German tennis player. She won a total of ten titles in her career and made it into the top 200 players in the world. Sarah was also intersex, with both male and female genitalia. She had surgery at the age of 19 to become legally a female.

Intricacies of the universe are reason to say, “Hm, what a magnificent universe!” – not reason to bend and break it until it fits into our box. Same with intricacies of people.

The guest on Oprah had no physical male or female sexual characteristics. This person was born this way, would not identify as male or female, would not use male or female pronouns.

Intersex  [intersex means people who don’t fit a binary (black & white) male/female] – and as a kid watching this show, I had no idea this was possible. What do you mean, no gender? People come in male or female, blue or pink. Sure, some are masculine or more feminine than others, maybe even gay. But this “intersex” was completely unfamiliar, too much to sort out. (How can we compartmentalize people if they have no gender?) I shoved the issue somewhere on the back shelf with my shoes.

Fast-forward some years to when God pulled me into the LGBTQ community. I began to discover a lot quickly, including an eye-opening TED talk on gender: Alice Dreger: Is Anatomy Destiny? I learned that some people are born with both genders, or neither gender. Or one gender outside and the other gender inside.

Some people are born with both a penis and ovaries. Some are born with a vagina and testes. I don’t say this to be crude or shocking. If this whole world is new to you, it may time to assimilate. But this is part of the human panorama, and while “polite company” may hesitate to talk about it, a lot of people live their lives here. That intersex person I watched on TV is part of a bigger human picture.

It doesn’t help any of us to cover our ears and say, “Lalalala.”

Why would I write about all this? Because intersex people have no choice: they were “born this way.” Some people are so uncomfortable with LGBTQ issues, they would love to shove the whole group of them back in the closet …and do it in the name of God.

Even those who are certain that LBGTQ people have sinfully chosen this “lifestyle” – and they believe this without having actually engaged with any LGBTQ people personally – even those people (if they are honest) must say, Hm. Intersex. Born with both parts, or neither. Clearly not a choice. Now what?

Maybe there are other things in this whole “gay debate” that we don’t understand too. Now what? Can we be at peace with that and keep the conversation going in love?

Open your mind to something you don’t know. Open your heart to someone you don’t love.

That you can do in the name of God.


SUSAN COTTRELL is a national speaker, teacher, and counselor with years of Biblical study and discipleship experience. Her books include: Mom, I’m Gay – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faithas well as How Not to Lose Your Teen and The Marriage Renovation. Through her nonprofit organization – – Susan champions the LGBTQ community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that “loving God and loving others” are the foundation of the rest of the scripture, just as Jesus said.

She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”

She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas.


  1. In my walk with God through the LGBTQ community as a member of it, walking humbly, doing justice and loving mercy — instead of walking arrogantly and ignorantly as many of those who stand outside in judgment tend too often to do — I’ve discovered the need to 1) confront stereotypes that substitute for truth, 2) allow the Holy Spirit to remove the blinders of Westernized, binary thinking in which I was rigorously trained throughout my upbringing and education and 3) accept the wisdom of all sources of wisdom, including those who have objectively studied and reported upon the nature of humanity’s diversity with its amazing origin in androgyny as a single, unified gender orientation. Then it dawned on me that God has no body and therefore no need to be assigned or reassigned a gender. “Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord thy God is one.” Amazingly enough the One God who has no division or distinction in orientations of any kind created all and each of us in the Divine’s image. How can that be? Ah, wholeness that permits unity amid diversity. The wholeness of the whole human race reflects the wholeness of the Divine Creator. Each of us paradoxically do too. That is the riddle that only humbling listening to the Holy Spirit unravels. Without the Divine One I am (and we are) nothing. With the Divine One I am (and we are) who I am (and we are) created to be — authentic, loving and lovable beings not defined by nor confined within any of humanity’s cultural orientations other than heaven as it comes to be on earth once we are wise enough to cooperate with the Divine One’s plan that it might happen.

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