My birth name is David, I was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on September 4 1949. Just a normal boy from a normal family of five siblings. I’m the middle child with older and younger sisters.
Up until I was maybe eight or nine years old, I was a typical boy child. As an adult I was told I was much to pretty for a boy. I take after my mother and not my Italian father so much. My sisters looked more like him. Although, I really liked the Italian side, with all the emotions, hugging, kissing and just plain loud.
In the late fifties the idea of anything other than male or female was unknown to me. Yet somehow I didn’t think of myself in those terms. I just knew that I was different. Not that I would, or even could, express this into words. Keep in mind, I’m eight or nine years old.
For whatever reason, my mom brought me to the doctor, It was he that found my right testis was undescended and would need surgery. In addition he said something about me being a late bloomer. I gathered this from his poking at my normal testis, I guess I was small in that department. As soon as school was out, I was in for surgery. That is when things started to get strange. First of all, my parents were never told anything about my surgery. The doctors just went home. Never speaking to them. Additionally, I was operated on for a very long period of time and the scar was huge. The nurses never answered my parents’ questions. A nun took care of me and she had a habit of slapping my hands if I moved wrong.
A day or two after I was brought into the ward another boy maybe five or so, was brought in after his surgery. The doctors and nurses treated him right in front of me. The little rolling screen did not block my view of him. He had the same scar accept his was on both testes. Doctors looked him over several times before the next surgery. His gonads were similar to mine, small in size, but otherwise normal as far as I remember.
On the third day a woman wearing an open lab coat with a nice dress walked up to my bed. I never saw her before and never saw her again after that day. She just strolled in and started talking with me. Frankly, she sounded like a total airhead doing all the talking. The odd thing was this conversation wasn’t about me. It was about the boy in the next bed. Are you being nice to him? I said yes. But in reality he was always sleeping. This went on and on until she said, “We saved you from becoming a girl, but we cannot save that boy”. Could doctors do such a thing? Was he being punished? And most of all did she know that I felt like a girl sometimes? I clammed up, never speaking to anyone about this until I was an adult. Shortly after, they loaded the child on a gurney. I never saw him again.
Years later I asked for my records, but have not received them. Recently, I wrote the hospital to relate this story as a way of showing how children were treated. No answer from them to date. Over the years I started to question myself about what I saw and heard. Did I take what she said out of context? Did my mind play games with me? My only thought was, try to forget it and move on.
Back to life and school. I was the weakly kid in school. I hated it and yet I loved learning. Things just got worse and worse. No puberty, nothing. People suggested I was gay. I wasn’t anything. No puberty until my late teens and then it wasn’t really a noteworthy event. When I turned twenty I went out to a friends family farm and over a period of months I fell in love with my future spouse. I cannot explain it. I fell in love with her as a person, not because she was female. I just loved her, well, for being her. That was the very first time that ever happened to me. Yes, it is strange. But it is what happened.
And now for all the sexy parts. Hypogonadism makes for having sex somewhat difficult, but doable. Other issues came from my ever-present Dysphoria. I was enjoying being a male, yet I had this discord going on. Now add a new twist. I started feeling pregnant. I mean I felt as if I was carrying a child in me. After six years of marriage my spouse became pregnant. This was pure joy on every level. That is when I told her for the first time about my gender feelings and the fact I felt as if I was pregnant too. She laughed despite my explanation that I indeed was.
I felt at the very least two genders. We never heard the word transgender. I did know there was such a thing. We never got around much, no drinking, smoking or anything like that. We just did work, school and keeping a up household. Even though my gender dysphoria was bad, it was something I could suppress. After our first child, it was another six plus years passed by and then we had a baby girl. Now I was busier than ever, working ridiculous hours at work, raising kids and building a house.
Fast-forward a few years. It was midsummer and I stepped out of the shower and found that although now repaired, my formerly undescended testis had started growing. I went in within the week and the doctor took no interest and demised me of hand. Let me just put it this way. This went on and on for months until I demanded that the testis be removed. Even that process took months before a surgeon agreed, and would only do so if he could take it out under a local anesthesia. The moment I was cut open, the testis/teratoma/ovary erupted out of my abdomen. In addition they found a surgical mess from my childhood surgery. A ten centimeter teratoma, a hole, and then another fourteen plus centimeter teratoma. And to top it all off, stage three cancer.
The fact is, I was very comfortable. I was even happy in a strange sort of way. In the next months chemo and surgeries taught me who and what I was. And what I was not. This crazy woman from so many years ago no longer had a hold on me. I truly was what I thought I was.
In the last years I have become more and more comfortable with myself as a human being. A group of psychologists told me I fall into the transgender spectrum. I believe that in no small part, it is indeed true. But this is a much over simplification.
To be transgender you need to move beyond one gender into the realm of the other gender. I can live without changing. Clearly not the perfect situation, but it works. You see, I am madly in love with that farm girl I married so many years ago. Somehow we make our life work and we will just leave it at that. I need to be someone she knows. Even though in reality I’m the same person inside. She isn’t as strong as I am emotionally and I cannot break her illusion.
After my surgery at the Mayo clinic where the last and largest of the germ cell teratoma was removed, I woke up, looked across the room and saw my wife sleeping in a chair. Then I had a rush of emotion that came to me as if I had lost a child. My baby was gone. She was gone. At that point my spouse came to me and told me everything was OK. The feeling of being pregnant is not as strong as it was, but it is still very much there. It’s a Good feeling. No … a great feeling to have!
Could I become a woman for the world to see? I am her and much more. Am I intersex, oh yes. Am I transgender? Well sort of, not really, well maybe. Heck I don’t know. Are all intersex the same as myself? NO. There are over 30-40 totally different types of intersex under a very crowded umbrella of terminology. Are we a defect? NO, at least 1.7% of births are intersex. God knows how many people are Transgender. I am not a scientist, and I bet you are wondering why I have drawn these two communities together? It is a simple game of connect the dots. There is a connection, I do not know the biological pathways exactly, but I’m sure some bushy haired researcher is connecting the dots one at a time. The secret is not to expect just one clear answer. History has shown that there are many pathways to science and the truth. You find your own truth. I’m still polishing mine and I don’t share.
This intersex/transgender thing has gotten to be so confusing I cannot keep the whole thing straight. Most doctors are as confused as the public at large. My life is passing at an ever-increasing rate. The fact is, I should have been gone years ago. If there is one thing I wish for you, it is to believe in yourself. Be who you need to be, or at least understand the why of how you came to be.
I even stopped going to church. Even though I have strong convictions. That came about when a women told me one of my ancestors committed a crime against God and then a curse was put on my family and on me personally. But if I prayed to Jesus through her, I would be healed. I was at a loss for words. At least she didn’t ask me to kill my first-born child. I would kill myself first. That would be good enough for her god. Not mine.
Now for those who really believe there are only men and women. Come on, get real. Look around you. I mean look at people very, very closely and tell me there are only men and women. If I could be born with a fetal ovary and an underdeveloped testis, just think of all the combinations of cellular tissue a body could have when there are billions of them. I have a little body hair. But how many women need to shave their faces every day. You get the idea.
Fernando, you asked how the medical community has treated me?
Not very well at age ten and again at age eleven.
At age twenty-five or so I had an exam for flight training. The creepy doctor was a total ass, making fun of my gonads. Later I found out he checked women’s breasts and gave his impressions of their shape and size. Good thing for the medical community he dropped dead face first in his mashed potato’s three months after this happened.
At the time I came down with cancer, I had to deal with seven or eight months of dealing with doctors who were at best incompetent or egomaniacs. This was an ongoing nightmare for myself and my family. I could tell you a dozen horror stories and leave it at that.
Ask me about the radiologist some time. I am sure you will not believe me, but it is true.
I’ve had many positive things happen to counter the bad. But the truth is, the bad things came very close to killing me.
I’ve only had one doctor who injected their idea of what male and female ‘are’ and ‘are not’ with me. It was a religious thing with him and I accept his view for what it was. Over all, we got along great.
My medical records? Now that I will need to hand you in person. Very thick files with full pathology from Mayo and several hospitals. I did have the slides in my possession and they may still be on file. Oh, I do have full MRI and C-scans of my full body on DVD. In addition, I have brain scans, should someone be interested. It is my understanding hypothalamus measurements can be taken to aid in determining brain sex. I’ll need my brain for a little longer. But maybe a couple of sexy MRI scans would be a good substitute for now.
As far as sexual aspects of my life? As I said before, I never started puberty till shortly before my spouse and I crossed paths. For me the act of lovemaking is a very emotional thing. I would find it difficult to share myself without a strong emotional bond. Even then I think, without her acceptance of my body type, it would be difficult.
I’ve never had any interest in males even though I have many very close male friends. I have several Gay friends. No interest from me or them. I do have an extremely close friend who started out Gay then realized he was transgender. So he started taking female hormones. While she did this, she found a woman to love who totally accepted her as becoming a woman, and they married. They are so cute and happy lovebirds. They used to visit us, but she lost her job and they moved out west and are living in a pickup camper. We may drive out and bring them back to live with us until they get back on their feet. My friend is having brain surgery and optic nerve repair done in March and we hope her eye pain will pass. Both of them are devout Christians and found a church to accept them.
I’m very sure I skipped over many things I spoke about in the past. This will be a new starting point I guess. As you find old e-mail exchanges that differ, just get back to me and I will be glad to answer them.
In so much as your film deals with Intersex, I think I would like to confine my personal history to that if that is ok? Better yet I’ll make you a deal, I will not tell you how to make movies if you don’t tell me how to make paper. lol I am a paper maker by trade.
Until then you be well.