Not Checking the Boxes

Sometimes gender isn't revealed at birth.

Ryan was born intersex. Growing up, he was called by a name traditionally given to girls. But he adopted his name because he felt he possessed "a girl body and a boy brain." He never performed activities expected of a girl, which made him an outcast in his social circles. Sports became an important outlet for self-expression, especially softball.

In 2014, after decades of struggling with his gender identity, he legally changed his name to Ryan and transitioned to male.

Ryan's story shows how checking boxes as male or female is limited. Those boxes could never fully capture the complex realities of one's gender and sexuality.

Ryan, Six Years Old, 1978

Ryan, Six Years Old, 1978

Courtesy of Ryan

[F]or so many years I lived and hid behind my mask....You need your mask to protect you from harm, but if you don't remove it (or leave it on too long) it obstructs your view and prevents you from seeing. My mask serve(d) as my protection for decades but it was only when I finally had the courage to remove it that I was able to live freely.

—Ryan

Ryan's Umpire Mask, 2012

Gift of Ryan

View object record

Ryan's Letter Jacket

Gift of Ryan

One of Ryan's crowning achievements was his active participation in high school softball. He received a lettered jacket in May 1988.

View object record


See Girlhood in 3D! Explore a model of the letter jacket.

 

Ryan's Ring, 2001

Gift of Ryan

View object record

Crossroads Yearbook, 1988

Gift of Ryan

In this high school yearbook, Ryan is 16 years old and in 10th grade.

View object record

Individual and Family Photos of Ryan, His Parents, and His Brothers

Courtesy of Ryan

Previous
Next