When I was born in 1970 nobody seems to have questioned my gender,
and I was assigned female. Today I remember looking at pictures
of me as a baby, naked and ready to receive a fresh diaper and wondering,
why nobody took offense by that visible little clitoris between
my labia. This I thought when I was about 13 or 14 years old, still
unworried and rather excited by my large clitoris that would raise
and grow in size when I masturbated. I think during my first encounter
of my female friends genitals and some glossy close-up pictures
in some porn magazines in a neighbors house I started questioning
if I might not be normal.
childhood was blessed with my rough and sometimes choleric grandmother
who raised me, since my mom worked in another city, and my parents
divorced when I was about one year old. Oma never made me look like
a girl, forcing me into gender roles or staying clean (since girls
should not play rough!). She already raised three kids, my mom and
my two uncles, I was rather the nesthaekchen and everyone loved
I would come home from the muddy playground covered from head to
toe in dirt, my mom who was home for the weekend would shake her
head complaining. Oma just took me to the balcony, undressed me
and sent me off to a bath with the words, "why, we have a washer
english term Tomboy defined me well, I mainly had boy friends, played
football, build caves and climbed in trees. I would run the pack
through our neighborhood, annoying the grown-ups with my noisy attitude.
I was one of the boys. Although I did have one or two girl friends
too, we then played different games. I remember more inside games,
playing with my stuffed animals preparing meals with my friends
little miniature kitchen, having teatime.
in all I guess that was a good childhood, until my Oma became ill.
She was coughing for already a year before they finally found the
cancer in her lungs.
a few years ago at age 26 I remembered that following last year
with my Oma again, slowly wasting away in the bedroom next to mine.
Her yelling at Opa "Don’t let her see me like this!" while all her
hair was fallen out because of the chemo therapy, and throwing up
all the time, and only being a skeleton with skin, too small in
those sheets and supporting pillows.
visited Oma at her hospital bed the last time. They called us to
come over, since it would be over soon. She didn’t recognize me
anymore being drugged to lessen her pain. I went from the bed to
the nearby table playing or drawing something. That was not my Oma,
that thing with all those wires and hoses stucked into it.
she died I was 12 years old; I couldn’t stop laughing hysterically
during the speech of the priest who stood next to the coffin. I
was never raised very religious, and this was just too much to bear,
everyone I knew was bawling their eyes out, and my mom next to me
tried to force me to be quiet.
when the coffin was lowered into the ground I fathomed what was
happening here and I started crying violently.
changes came into my world. We moved to another part of the city,
into my grandpa’s house (his Mother, I called her ‘old Oma’, lived
there before, she died three months after my Oma. Another burial).
My mom moved in with me and my Opa, taking care of us.
numbed the whole family for the next years, and nobody really paid
attention to the weirdness I was about to go through.
fourteen I found out that having a large clitoris acting like a
mini penis wasn’t "normal" for a girl. With fourteen I reached my
height of 6" 3, drawing the monsters with pencil on paper for company
after school. With 16 years my uncle discovered my facial hair that
I tried to hide under my bob, "god, you have a beard!" and I started
shaving, secretly with my Opa’s shaving kit.
nobody was worried, even thou neighbors would say behind my back,
"she looks like a boy!".
seventeen I told my mom, that I think I should go to her gynecologist,
since I still haven’t menstruated. But even before the visit at
the doctor I knew that I was a freak, a monster, some weird alien
dropped into normality for some intergalactic joke.
to that moment my family and me kept up the ignorance, fleeing into
fantasy worlds of the TV or, in my case, into SF books and my drawn
world of monstrous society, with the monster as the average standard.
doctor looked at my genitals, stuck his finger into my vagina and
pressing my gonads, that hurt when I was lying on my stomach. He
touched my rudimentary breasts and my chin, feeling for stubs. That
touching my face freaked me out the most, and what followed felt
like a nightmare. He told me that I was supposed to become a boy.
But something went wrong during my development and he needs to send
me to a specialist.
at home I told my Mom and my Opa what the doctor said. I didn’t
tell them anything about my clitoris or my beard, just that I was
supposed to be a boy that explains why I never will menstruate since
there is no uterus, and that there will be never own children. They
tried to be helpful, telling me that it is not so bad, since I never
wanted own children anyway and since I was focusing on continuing
to go to school and then to college.
nodded, went up to my room and started thinking.
thought of the reasons to stay alive. I thought of all the things
that have never been available to me, like having a boyfriend, going
swimming, being just close and cuddly with friends, being a teenager.
The good things were my art. A year before a teacher asked me why
I wanted to go into administration (that was what my uncle did,
I couldn’t think of what I would do with my life), since I was constantly
drawing during class I should study art.
art? During that time I took classes in an Art School for Children
and young adults, and I asked my instructor about studying art.
I never heard or thought of such a thing. She referred me to an
intern that was in the application process for art academy and her
boyfriend, who already studied art, told me I should prepare a portfolio
and speak to his professor.
did. And it almost seemed like heaven, the school full with creative
people doing all kind of art, where you could actually focus on
drawing for years, and getting a degree in the end.
in my room for days, I decided that there was so much to see in
this world, so much I haven’t seen yet. So much to learn and things
to do. I wanted to be part of this, I wanted a piece of the pie,
too! So many things I can never be do or get, but still maybe there
could be a way. I decided that if I go on, than I should aim for
my dreams, to make them real and no compromise. 100% or forget it.
that I turned towards life, and shut down my body, being just a
mind and a hand that holds the pencil.
specialist was a doctor of Human Genetics at the University. She
asked me friendly how I was doing and then asked me to take off
all my clothes to take pictures of me.
I just did what she asked me for, feeling so uncomfortable anyway,
and now being photographed naked. I think there was a measuring
screen behind me. She even took pictures of my hands, and I wanted
just to disappear. But by then I got used to this unreal feeling
towards my own body and hid in the back of my head.
asked her how it can happen that I was so different and why this
happened to me. She explained something about rays that sometimes
can change the genetic setup of cells, coming from out of space
and usually doing no harm. Now in my case they changed the sperms
of my dad or the egg of my mom and one of my chromosomes were 'broken'
and that is why I didn’t develop fully like a proper female.
was the answer, not a word about my ‘being a boy’( or about my male
XY caryotype) anymore, this was intentionally avoided, as I found
out twelve years later, reading the correspondence between the doctors,
that was added to my medical records. They decided that I was too
sensitive (to know the truth); in my med. records it says, after
explaining to her the broken chromosome-theory (which is total bulls**t
since there's nothing broken, its just a plain Y chromosome, also
found in 'normal' males) the patient was satisfied with that answer.
In reality I was just blown away by such an answer/theory, that
chance would have chosen me to mutate my chromosomes and turn me
into this monstrosity,to become born a sexual freak, a monster by
doctor asked me if I would like to visit psychological counseling
in another city at a Hospital specialized on sexual diseases and
the medical records it says, ‘the patient doesn’t think psychological
counseling is necessary and she just wants to focus on getting into
art school to study’. That might have been my words but I thought,
why do I need a psychiatrist, its nothing wrong with my brain, I
am just a monster. And nobody can help me with that.
one thing they could do for me, so I would pass better as a female.
First those ‘ovaries’ would have to be removed, since they would
turn cancerous within the next years. And cancer I knew was deadly.
(Later I found out that the pain was possibly caused by hernia,
my testicles tried to drop into my "scrotum/labia" but couldn't
get there. My gonads were not inflamed at all, they were developed
like "childrens testicles" produced testosterone and were alltogether
fine and functioning. Of course different from a 'normal male' but
perfectly fine for a hermaphrodite!)
And then I would get hormone treatment, which would feminize my
body. (That this was necessary for the rest of my life to prevent
osteoporosis they didn't mention.)
this point I want to slip in my idea of how it could have been handled
by the medics, or this would be my wish it could have been like
They should have told me the truth: that I was chromosomically
male, that my body didn't respond to the androgen during my fetal
development and thats why I was born with rather feminine external
genitals. Now during puberty my body did respond to the testosterone
(now would follow terms like 5 alpha reductase or Partial Androgen
Insufficiency or whatever) and this happens so and so often and
there are so many others, and here you have some addresses of groups
of intersexed people (thats what their called) and you can get
support there and learn how to deal with it. Your gonads are not
ovaries, they are internal testicles, and the pain you feel is just
some sort of hernia, since your gonads try to drop into your scrotum/labia.
You are NOT alone, there are up to 4% of the population that goes
through similar experiences like you. Would you like to meet them?
Would you like to talk to them?
Of course 1988 there wasn't any of this information out there,
and I am sure, even today many doctors are pretty clueless and rather
tell lies to their patients since they cannot imagine that someone
would choose an identity beyond the boundaries of male or female.}
doctors followed. I was given a private room by myself in the hospital
and was examined by the professor himself at the night before the
surgery. His office was fancy; I remember dark wooden bookshelves
and oriental carpets, not the typical gynecologic office. I remember
after his examination of my genitals I sat at his desk, my file
in front of him. Maybe he left the room for a second, maybe I just
glimpsed the word by trying to read the file upside down.
did this mean, why male? Hermaphrodite I have heard before, didn’t
it mean Zwitter (Zwitter is a german word for hermaphrodite,
with a rather nasty edge, used for swearing)? Pseudo? Not really
a hermaphrodite, male? I was very confused, and couldn’t wait to
look this term up in the public library, since I didn’t even think
for one moment to ask the doctor directly. I guess I already knew
they wouldn’t share their knowledge with me. I remember him asking
me if I would also wish to have a clitoral reduction. Of course
not, I said, shaking my head. He asked me twice, and I said, if
it isn't cancerous, it stays. (Thank god he at least asked me,
after all I have learned in the last year!)
pain, the scars, three weeks in the hospital, and more weeks outside,
being back in school, walking slightly bent over since it hurt and
one of the scars got inflamed and I had to push blood clumps out
of my body. The students at school worried, since I haven’t been
in school for so long. Only after the surgery I told them that I
had my ovaries removed, because they were going wild and have been
removed to prevent cancer.
that and the quarter yearly visits at my doctor to pick up the prescription
for my estrogen I did focus on studying art.
I was known for my straightness in proceeding my goals, I had friends,
close friends I told some blurred information about myself, and
started lying to myself.
I fell in love with that guy, and I think he liked me too, we did
a small exhibition together and he visited me in the city I lived
in, but I couldn’t get close to him. He saw a girl in me, but I
knew that this was a façade, a fake, and I could never expose my
ambiguous body to him. So I cried for a year until that was decided
too, never to fall in love again.
I studied art. Went to America several times, working for artists,
doing an internship in a theater, traveled to New Orleans, the Vampire
Capitol, lived in NYC for six months, finished my studies in Germany,
won an artist in residence for one year and started to bring all
my passion into my old favorite companion: the vampire (1). I started
role-playing for a while, but the actual impersonating a vampire
gave me a way to express my suppressed passion. Fangs, weird contacts,
a vampire coat that suits my height well, and I was playing my passion.
People and friends told me that I was sexy in this outfit. That
blew my mind. Sexy, a freak like me?
the same time I was stuck in that little town surrounded by hills,
and old ghosts came back to haunt me. On the streets in such a small
town people started staring again, asking behind my back or impudently
in my face ‘ are you a man or a woman?!’ and since I kept my mouth
shut they figured for themselves "noo, it’s a man! Noo it wears
lipstick!". While I kept walking I started nodding and talking to
myself "IT is right!"
realized I went through pains of my puberty again, that nothing
was worked out, just hidden in the deepest darkest corners of my
I started looking through the Internet. And I couldn’t believe how
much I found! And I read personal stories of others like me. Others!
Slowly I got a bigger picture of what was going on, I learned of
mutilation from birth on, and I just couldn’t believe it. Surely
in these times the doctors would know how to help intersexuals and
refer to this wonderful information in the Internet. But still I
was learning and I found out much more. I somewhat puzzled together
what my "syndrome" would be called. Since I did respond pretty well
on testosterone during my puberty I figured it would be rather "5
alpha reductase deficiency" than "PAIS", but somehow
this didn’t interested me so much.
struck me, I was a chromosomicaly male. It was NOT special or out
of the ordinary, when this happens to 1 in 2000 births!
that I lived a life full of lies.
29 years of age all came back with full force. I could not lie to
myself any longer. I knew know exactly what I was. And still it
didn’t feel better. I had a breakdown for two days, crying nonstop.
still I kept up lying to my friends and family. Now I really was
lying to them when I presented myself as female, which has always
been a burden to me anyway.
the thought of talking about this to a friend seemed impossible.
When I talked to my friends and I was thinking about telling them,
but an unbearable fear would go through me. Rather would I die than
again a decision was to be made, reasons to be found to go on with
lasted for about five months, until a friend mentioned an add in
a local paper of a Zwitter looking for smart communication with
people that are not genderphobic. I flushed when I heard the word
Zwitter, but the same night I started to write a letter to this
person, the first time ever speaking about what I thought I was,
using the term 'pseudo' hermaphrodite.
e-mail came back, we scheduled a meeting in a bar, and this changed
zie I learned yet another side of this coin. And I became furious.
not for my own sake but for those who come after me, people, babies,
humyns that are neither male nor female I started slowly to come
out of this major closet. This now (2001) is a year ago and I know
I still have a long way to go and to heal.
quit taking estrogen a year ago and felt relieved that the feeling
of being blown up like a balloon stopped and my breasts don’t hurt
anymore. Lately I become worried a little about my bone density
and I start to develop this eunuch-like bodyshape. I am thinking
of taking testosterone or a mix of both hormones. I remember that
I felt very good on testosterone before society and normality made
me hate the effects it had on my body.
the last year I started to become an activist and politically interested,
and I think that nobody will change anything if oneself doesn't
start to change something. Information, awareness and just being
myself everyday, and I feel more alive then ever.
most of my friends know about me, and it made perfectly sense to
them when I finally told them. New friends I make know from the
start, even though I slowed down a little bit of having it written
in bright letters on my forehead: ZWITTER.
The Vampire stands for a seemingly human and gendered creature
(even though usually sexually ambiguous in its choice of victim
and its "sex" defined only through the fangs not its gender, except
in use for the seduction of the victim).
A stranger, an alien that feeds on humanity to stay alive (with
a peculiar way of reproduction: by bite or sharing it's blood).
At the same time this monster can pass as human but only when "it"
tries hard (using hypnosis, lays out false information about its
past, finds lies for the reasons not to be seen during daylight).
At the same time the vampire is feared, adored and evokes disgust.
An ambiguous being, very much like the hermaphrodite.