SELF-INTRODUCTION TO THE INTERSEX SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA
Jim Sinclair, 1997
I'm more fortunate than many intersexed people, in that my intersexuality is a matter of "undeveloped" rather than "mixed" anatomy. I was simply assumed to be female until my early to mid teens, so I wasn't subjected to any early surgeries or other invasive procedures.
I was expected to be and identify as a girl, though, and I sensed very early on that there was something "not right" about this. This was just one of many unusual things parents and doctors waited for me to "outgrow," and since I also had some severe developmental communication and other problems, it wasn't really a priority--until I was twelve or thirteen, and not only didn't outgrow it, but a) didn't "grow" physically at all in the ways I was expected to, and b) did develop sufficient communication ability to become very outspoken about NOT being a girl.
The first response was to send me for intensive psychotherapy to try to brainwash me into accepting a female gender identity and role. In fact I was nearly hospitalized in a psychiatric institution for this, but my parents settled for outpatient brainwashing instead. For the next several years things were confused and ambivalent: By the time I was fourteen pretty much everyone outside my family accepted me socially as a boy, yet as late as age sixteen a doctor proposed putting me on estrogen to make my breasts grow.I was finally evaluated by a team of intersexuality "specialists" at sixteen and a half. Physical examination at that time was external only, plus a digital exam looking for testes and/or a uterus. I turned out not to have either. The recommendation at that time was that since I was adamant about not being female, I should start testosterone injections to make me appear more male.
This was OK for a while; in my experience of the last three years, being identified as a boy had meant primarily a welcome release from pressures and expectations to identify as a girl. I had never really experienced any similar pressure to be or act like a boy--my family didn't really think of me as a boy, and even new acquaintances who knew nothing of my history, and on a surface level fully believed I was male, still picked up that I was "different" (probably in part because I appeared so obviously physically immature for a boy my age) and didn't seem surprised or upset when I didn't quite fit the role.
But with the testosterone, the first slight deepening of my voice and the beginning growth of facial hair brought home to me that this too was a trap, altering my body in ways that didn't feel natural. I stopped the injections, and told my endocrinologist that I was absolutely certain I did not want to be a woman, but was not at all certain I did want to be a man. I thought there might be a third option, that of remaining "in between." He was not happy about this.Exploratory surgery was done with my consent when I was eighteen. There were no differentiated ovaries or testes. I do not disclose the nature or direction of improperly differentiated tissues, nor my genotype, as my experience has been that this kind of information gets used to "assign" me to an irrelevant gender.
At 21 I had some urinary tract repair, and had to fend off an overzealous surgeon who was determined to do a phalloplasty.
I remain openly and proudly neuter, both physically and socially.
Copyright (c) 1997 Jim Sinclair
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