Patricia Nell Warren

Quick & Simple for Terri O'

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | April 30, 2008 10:05 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: family problems, gender issues, Middle America, Terri O'Connell, women in sports

I finally got my hands on a copy of the April 1st issue of Good Housekeeping's Quick & Simple, with its interview of Terri O'Connell. The cover touts super-chef Paula and her world-famous Southern pound-cake recipe, along with the usual family fare on health, dieting and household tips. Some might think that this magazine, one of the Hearst publications, is the last place that you'd see a two-page spread on a woman race-car driver who realigned her gender. Well, surprise, surprise.

The article is in the Real Life section. Its title, "Finally My Heart is Happy," tops the spread in big valentine-red letters. The photo gives us Terri in a valentine-red sweater with a dramatic cowl collar. Her strawberry-blonde hair is a little windblown, as if she just logged a 190-mph qualifying lap without a helmet. Quick & Simple's writer starts with Terri's childhood in a Bible-belt town, and doesn't flinch from what the blurb calls a "battle with misunderstanding and prejudice to realize her true identity as a woman." The battle included Terri's discovery that she's an XXY.

Now and then, in the media that serve Middle America, I see a hopeful ripple of what may be some deep paradigm changes happening. In spite of all the controversy about LGBT rights and ENDA, despite all the hate from religious righters who are as cruel and stupid about gender as they are about sexual orientation, some people in Middle America are definitely starting to get it about that region of humanity that we represent. Whether or not these changes will really alter the whole American continent of consciousness is still a question -- one that might be answered in part by whichever party wins the upcoming Presidential election.

But not in a million years would Quick & Simple run this story if they didn't feel that some of their Middle American readership were ready for it -- that Terri O's story, and her image, could actually appeal in Middle America. Terri is as Southern and down-home as Paula and her pound cake...but in a radically different way. Hers is a family story -- about parents and children, about the imperative to love and accept your child no matter how different that child turns out.

So here are my valentine-red kudos to Quick & Simple and Good Housekeeping for their courage. Any Bilerico readers who want to thank them can go to and find the link to post comments.

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 1, 2008 2:20 AM

Wow, and as Paul Harvey continues to say: "Now for the rest of the story."

A.G. Casebeer | May 1, 2008 3:35 AM

O'Connell's credentials for gaining a NASCAR drive are better than a number of the guys who drive in the Craftsman Truck series, or what used to be known as the Busch series. It's a damn shame that nobody's taken a chance. After all, Tim Richmond was gay, and you'd think as PR conscious NASCAR is, they'd want the GLBT box office money, too.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 1, 2008 11:04 AM

And the rest of the story is that America has always been ahead of her politicians. It was out of fear of what the unwashed public might do that gave us a bicameral legislature and the electoral college. Great change is shortly coming.

I agree, Robert. Popular culture always leads the way.

Way to go Good Housekeeping!