-J.W., Male, 19

"When I was 5 years old that's when I sort of remember realizing my hands looked different from my older brother's.. my left hand had one larger finger and only 4 - my middle and ring finger were webbed together. I learned when I was 8 what that meant - I had syndactyly. I didn't think it was the biggest thing in the world. I could do everything my brother could, it wasn't impacting my function. However when I started grade 5 everything changed. I was bullied for it..for looking different, especially as an African American. I remember one of my friends named my fused finger Willy, and it just caught on. No one called me by my first name anymore; for the next 3 years I was known as 'Willy'. I started hiding my left hand, putting it in my pocket whenever I was outside no matter how clammy my hand would get in the summers. I stopped going bowling for a while too - I could never fit my middle finger in the ball and let's just say my score was subpar with my right hand. Surprisingly, my dominant hand was my left hand. I actually used to be proud of that fact when I was younger since most students at my school were right-handed. After a while, I felt the complete opposite, ashamed. I even started teaching myself to write with my other hand because I  didn't want to deal with the embarrassment anymore if a stranger were to see. I've gotten better at it. I try not to let it bother me, but even to this day I still sign all my bank cheques in front of the teller with my right hand."