A Story (2001)


   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.

My 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 me.

When 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 nowadays.".

The 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.

All 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.

Just 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.

I 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.

When 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.

Only when the coffin was lowered into the ground I fathomed what was happening here and I started crying violently.

Many 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.

Shock numbed the whole family for the next years, and nobody really paid attention to the weirdness I was about to go through.

With 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.

Still nobody was worried, even thou neighbors would say behind my back, "she looks like a boy!".

With 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.

Up 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.

The 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.

Back 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.

 I nodded, went up to my room and started thinking.

I 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.

Study 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.

I 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.

Sitting 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.

With that I turned towards life, and shut down my body, being just a mind and a hand that holds the pencil.

The 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.

Flabbergasted 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.

I 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.

That 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 any standards.

The doctor asked me if I would like to visit psychological counseling in another city at a Hospital specialized on sexual diseases and abnormalities.

In 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.

Oh, 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.)

{At 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 this:
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.}

More 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.

Male Pseudohermaphrodite.

What 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!)

The 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.

After that and the quarter yearly visits at my doctor to pick up the prescription for my estrogen I did focus on studying art.

And 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.

Once 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.

And 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?

At 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!"

I realized I went through pains of my puberty again, that nothing was worked out, just hidden in the deepest darkest corners of my consciousness.

So 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.

What struck me, I was a chromosomicaly male. It was NOT special or out of the ordinary, when this happens to 1 in 2000 births!

And that I lived a life full of lies.

With 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.

And 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.

And 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 tell anyone.

And again a decision was to be made, reasons to be found to go on with this life.

This 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.

An e-mail came back, we scheduled a meeting in a bar, and this changed my life.

Through zie I learned yet another side of this coin. And I became furious.

And 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.

I 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.

In 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.

Now 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.


GFN_GenderFreeNation © 2001