For most of her life, Lynnell lived as a male named Steve. She was born with the X and Y chromosomes of a male, but with hypospadias—a condition in which the penis is not connected to the urethra—and a vagina-like opening. "But since there was no vaginal canal, doctors sewed it together and they pronounced me a baby boy," Lynnell says. "And my mother raised me as her son."
As a child named Steve, Lynnell says she was very effeminate and preferred playing with dolls and jump ropes to "boy things." Because of that, she was teased and called names. Then, in puberty, Lynnell started to grow breasts. "The doctors said, 'You're a guy.' My mother said, 'You're a guy.' But my body's like, 'No, that doesn't make sense.'"