EUGENE, Ore. -- Imagine keeping something bottled up inside you -- something nobody else knew.
Kendra Little lived with that for twenty years, while playing golf at Sheldon High School, the University of Oregon and even professionally.
She’s playing a new course now, living freely and openly.
“Golf is a game where there is just so many parallels to life,” Little said. “Anytime I was growing up, going through something or feeling a certain way, going out on the golf course by myself and just having that time was sacred, will always be special to me,” she said.
She first started golfing around the age of 7 and knew she was good around 8 or 9 years old.
“I look back to when I was 6, 7 years old and just feeling different,” she said.
But like most at that age, she didn’t know how to talk about it.
“I had my friends in school, boys and girls, and just sort of looking at them and trying to compare myself to them and figure out these things I’m feeling without knowing how to make sense of it,” she said.
Eventually at the age of 12, she and her parents tracked down answers at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. After an ultrasound, her feelings of being different were justified.
“The doctor explained to me I was born both a boy and a girl,” Little said.
In basic terms, Little was born with the sexual reproduction parts of both sexes.
“When you’re told that at that age, and you have a very basic understanding of how the world works, and there’s boys and there’s girls, and that’s it, and to be told you’re both, that’s pretty, pretty shocking to hear, and yeah, sort of rocked my world,” she said.
From there the internal battles began.
“They don’t give you a handbook to walk you through something like that,” she said.
Little said she tried to live as normally as possible but never talked about it much.
“It’s something, you know, I didn’t share with anyone, not even my siblings,” Little said.
Little, the youngest of three children, said her parents were supportive and kept it confidential.
“So I think there was just that extra layer of wanting to protect and wanting to create a sense of normalcy on their end, and I can only imagine being a parent and being told your kid was born intersex. What do you do?” she said.
For twenty years, the three of them kept quiet.
Playing professionally, Little knew either the fear of people finding out would drive her from the game or she was going to continue to play and deal with the potential storm.
“And as it turns out, I wasn’t ready for that, and I wasn’t ready to deal with that, and I stepped away,” she said.
As expected, everyone in her life asked her why.
She says lying, saying, “I just don’t think this is what I’m supposed to do,” was the hardest part.
On July 8, 2019, Little broke her silence with a nearly 14 minute video produced by Uninterrupted, a company linked to National Basketball Association star LeBron James. Their platform is uninterrupted, where every athlete in the world is allowed to say what they want to say with no filter.
After twenty years encompassing high school, college, playing professionally and coaching at Texas Tech, this was Little’s way of coming out on her terms, and the reaction was “99.9% positive,” Little said.
She said she’s heard from some people she hasn’t talked to in years and, of course, complete strangers.
“Just saying, ‘I can’t tell you how much hearing the story from you means to me. I can relate 100% and you telling your story makes me feel validated and has made me feel seen and supported.’ Just hearing those stories from people born the same way, that in itself has made it all worth it,” Little said.
Having gone public and now at peace, Little’s life is now on a different course. She said she won’t drop everything and run off to every rally, but she’ll use her story and golf to help others.
“Golf is something that has always been an important thing in my life and been a vehicle to put me in places and meet people I never would have otherwise, so I’m forever grateful for the game and for everything it’s given me,” she said.
What does Little want you take away from her story?
“If you’re fearful of something, fearful of telling your story or whatever you’re going through, it’s never as bad as you think it is or you think it’s going to be if you do something about it.”