Amazon MP3 Clips

Thursday, November 22, 2012

MY BEST FRIENDS BLOG ON "WHAT SEX AM I", including my original reply

*     So! I have just been informed that my best friend is going through a nightmare right now after being maliciously outed by her oldest son. Her wonderful callings and job are now in jeapardy, and she has been informed to cease her online presence. She is the source of so much of my bravery and courage. She became my friend at a time I was very low. I have learned so much from her and I admire her greatly. I owe the existence of this blog to her. Indeed, I dedicated this blog to her, when I founded it. She is a truly remarkable woman, that I wish everyone had the pleasure of knowing her, like I do. I am a better woman because of her. I hope she will continue to remain my friend, and that she will continue to be a beacon of HOPE, and a VANGUARD of social justice and of Transgender rights, both within the LDS Church and without.  She is my Peaches, my Twin, my big Sissy, my BFF, my BGFF. I love her very much, and I don't want her to disappear.  In that vein, I wish to re-publish one or two of her posts, including my original reply to it. I hope she is okay with this, as I only do this so people know what a magnificent person she is.

         HERE IS HER POST AS IT ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN MAY OF THIS YEAR


Friday, May 25, 2012

What Sex Am I Anyway?


So, as I provided a reply the other night to Christian Taylor’s post on Causes of Transexualism, and reread the comments others had shared, it got me thinking more about my own situation, and a desire to share what I know, and what I feel, and what I don’t know as it relates to me.

My journey is not over yet, nor will it be perhaps in this life, and that is where faith comes in. I walk by faith, faith in what I do know, submissive to follow by faith when I don’t know, and striving to learn what I am able to receive. Hence the title of the blog, “Who Am I Really?” That is my journey, to learn more and to find out, if possible.

It seems like for we who are transgender persons the answers are not clear, and that strikes me now as I write it as a monumental understatement. We all want to know, we want clarity, and we need answers. I have benefitted greatly from reading the stories and feelings of those who have advanced further down this path than I have and have been able to share their understanding of their key questions.

Their answers though are theirs, and I realize mostly pertain to their situation, their make-up, and I sense we may all be a little different in our circumstances. One single answer about gender clearly doesn’t fit all individuals. As I share my feelings and insights, I do so that it may help me see it all more clearly by writing, that it may be of some benefit to the reader, but I do not presuppose that my answers are absolute or pertain at all to someone else. We each need to find the truth as it pertains to our situation. I am sure my writings can feel somewhat strident at times, and I guess they are for me and me alone, but are shared with the kindest of offerings to anyone who wishes to read.

So, let me consider my sex categorically: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
First physical, I was born with “normal” male genitalia, although smaller than average (which makes wearing fitted woman’s jeans no problem at all J). So I was assigned “male” gender at birth.

I was pondering the whole physical sex characteristics subject a while back and got the clear impression that I needed to research chromosomal abnormalities, particularly XXY. I did and learned that 47XXY or Kleinfelter’s Syndrome, although not directly linked to Transexualism from what I have read, did ring really true to me in several ways.

From the Wikipedia article on the topic, the description of the physical traits of Kleinfelter’s at each stage of life, perfectly described me at each phase in the most stunning detail and accuracy, to the point that I was shocked at how closely, here it is:

“As babies and children, XXY males may have weaker muscles and reduced strength. As they grow older, they tend to become taller than average. They may have less muscle control and coordination than other boys their age. (I was the poster child for this description).
During puberty, the physical traits of the syndrome become more evident; because these boys do not produce as much testosterone as other boys, they have a less muscular body, less facial and body hair, and broader hips. (Again me to a tee). As teens, XXY males may have larger breasts, weaker bones, and a lower energy level than other boys.

By adulthood, XXY males look similar to males without the condition, although they are often taller. In adults, possible characteristics vary widely and include little to no signs of affectedness, a lanky, youthful build and facial appearance, or a rounded body type with some degree of gynecomastia (increased breast tissue). (I am often mistaken by my facial appearance as a male some 5 to 10 years younger than I am, and have the rounded form and increased breast tissue).

The term hypogonadism in XXY symptoms is often misinterpreted to mean "small testicles" or "small penis". In fact, it means decreased testicular hormone/endocrine function. Because of this (primary) hypogonadism, individuals will often have a low serum testosterone level but high serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. Despite this misunderstanding of the term, however, it is true that XXY men may also have microorchidism (i.e. small testicles).” (Fortunately for me and my family I did not suffer from complete infertility which is common among those with Kleinfelter’s, I was able to father four of our five children, but I admittedly had a sex drive way below that of average males).

I noted the fact that those with Kleinfelter’s often grew taller than those in their family, and that in my case I grew far earlier than other boys. I reached my full height (almost 73”) before I was 13, and stopped cold, never growing any more. I recall my Mother pointing out that was exactly how SHE grew. Looking back it appears to me that the XX chromosomes governed the pace of my growth and early puberty, with the XY taking over only much later, just an observation on my part. (I will come back to how these physical attributes affected me emotionally in a minute).

I have no test results confirming Kleinfelter’s, but sufficient similarities to make it very plausible, and I feel contributory to my transgender self.  

Now sorry to get so detailed, but here goes. Stimulation of my nipples and breasts often causes secretion of breast milk, which I understand is not impossible for a biological male. The amazing thing early one Saturday morning was being awoken by our toddler-age granddaughter who had spent the night, as she was crying at the door to our room; I woke, and realized my shirt was wet from my right breast lactating in spontaneous response to her hungry cry. That is the closest I have come to feeling physically like a mother, and it was privately marvelous! Mind, hearing and physiology got together on that one.

One more physical cue, I read somewhere that men and women’s arms are not structured the same, if you stand and face the mirror with palms to the front, men’s arms are straight and women’s angle out some 15 degrees at the elbows, I went to the mirror upon reading that and sure enough, mine angled out. Supposedly that facilitates holding a child, etc., whichever, I do have it too, and it explains why my arm swing when I walk has always felt so uncontrollably feminine!

Now emotional, this is of course highly subjective and personal but there are a few worthwhile insights. First, I strongly feel that my physical attributes mentioned above strongly impacted how people perceived me and in turn how I learned to perceive myself (particularly my parents, as I will describe below, but of course there were many others). Second, as I described in my recent post about movies, my emotional nature is to be tenderhearted and overly sensitive, more on that in a minute.

I have thought back often on how my parents responded to the child I was and the impact of their responses from my current vantage point. My father was strong, athletic; overachieving at whatever competitive thing he did, including all sports. He worked in his younger days in a job that was heavy testosterone driven requiring brute strength. He swore, occasionally drank in excess, and made no apology for his flagrant use of pornography. He named me after himself (cross reference that sad fact against my post on “What is in a Name?”)

His often stated vision for me was that I would grow up to be just like him, start working with him in his shop as a teen and eventually partner with him in his business. (None of which ever happened).

I was so unlike him in so many ways it is too much to enumerate. I was hopelessly uncoordinated and generally uninterested in participation in sports of any kind. My sisters on the other hand were very strong and athletic, so he coached them for years, dragging me along to make me watch how much they pleased him.

I could not please him. He would take me fishing which I hated, he would fish I would sketch the landscape until it grew dark. Eventually he stopped taking me fishing, but he would go alone.

He was a hard, overt and critical man. Always a business owner, he could never keep an employee, he was too demanding, so he just did all the work himself. Even from my earliest days I can remember being tested by him at every turn, if I passed, I received his curt approval, if I failed, I witnessed his unbridled disdain. 

This sounds tough, but I do not exaggerate, he was and is the toughest person to be in a room with of anyone I have ever known.

Bottom line I could never be the man he wanted me to be, when I did things that were less than manly, there was only disapproval.

To counterbalance that difficult parent-child relationship, my dear Mother was kind and charitable to a fault, but she knew how to stand her ground against the man she married, and she knew how to protect her children, with fury if necessary. She taught me so much of what I know about being kind and helpful and giving and being willing to sacrifice.

She also taught me some other interesting things. Looking back I hear the steady drumbeat of her whispering to me (sometimes figuratively or subliminally, often verbally) that I MUST NOT be like my father.

She made sure I realized that his attitudes, his treatment of others, all his mannerisms, and even his employment were things I must not repeat, that I could and must do better. (Several others that knew my Dad well also reinforced those same sentiments). Mom gave me the courage to make my own choices and to be strong enough to be different, to go a different way and to suit what life meant to me. (Even the courage I suppose to be a transgender person and a Latter-day Saint!)

So what do I take from that? Emotionally for as long as I remember I was told to not be like the only male I was ever around in our immediate family. I spent my whole growing up years, trying not to displease my father while doing all I could to distance everything about myself from how he was. Perhaps I overreacted, but combined with the other characteristics I am describing, this strong emotional drive to not be like him, I feel contributed heavily to my predisposition to not want to be male or anything like male at all. My nurture, if you could call it that, was like a perfect storm when combined with my physical and mental make-up.

One more random emotional issue, that may have bearing, may not. My sisters were born right after me and only 13 months apart from each other, my mother suddenly found herself caring for three under three, and with a husband who had no involvement in child care. When she pushed back and demanded that there needed to be some way that I as a three year old could go outside and play so she could tend to the babies, my father’s solution (being both overly controlling and paranoid that something bad would happen to me) was to take me outside, tie one end of a rope tightly around my waist and the other end to the tree in the front yard and leave me there to play in the dirt. This began when I was three, and thankfully I have no recollection of it. (My Grandmother explained it to my wife one day when I wasn’t around). What I do remember is from about age five on I played under that tree, day after day without ever venturing to other parts of our yard; I had been well trained to obey.

My relationship with my parents while I lived in their home is just an example of how the response of others to me emotionally affected how I felt about myself.

On the brighter side I suppose it is my nature to be sensitive and tenderhearted and compassionate. These are positive emotional attributes I believe. However I have been taunted all my life from a young age for my sensitivity. In addition to the movies, any other emotional event would affect me in very powerful ways.

For example, while other boys played Army and used action figures, I would see those early TV images of the Vietnam War each night on the news and go to my room and cry myself to sleep, it was so disturbing. In fact I made quite a scene the only time I can remember in my first 12 years visiting another boy’s house, he had his army men all out and ready to play and I refused, I would not do that, we got into quite an argument over it (we were five at the time!), our mothers had to stop us, and we went home, no more going over to boy’s houses for me!

On the other hand whenever I was out of my father’s sight, I loved to play with Barbies or play dress up with my sisters, and I was always in a feminine role, never a masculine. It felt right and I never thought otherwise, but I knew not to get caught doing it.

Next, mental; maybe mental and emotional are too nearly the same to be separate categories, but I have a reason to separate them, I wanted to get the emotional stuff out of the way so I could focus on how my mind works and feels.

I feel I have the brain of a woman. I always have felt that way, but have learned that there actually are measurable structural differences. It would have been so much easier for me to think and act and like the things other boys did, or that my Dad constantly proffered. I was set in my mind that I would not do things boys did, I did not like things boys did, and I did not play rough, or break things or hurt things for the fun of doing it. I could always stop and wonder why I would do such things. I became quite defiant about it.

Rather I did my drawings, and paintings, and knitting and hook rugs, and macramé and tended flowers, and the garden, and got into photography and all kinds of crafts. I read books and daydreamed endlessly. Oh, how I loved to daydream about my future life and family and children! As a child I had constant fantasies and kept myself entertained for hours telling myself stories and pretending. It was in these activities that I felt like me, that I felt a release and felt whole and I knew the difference!

From the link in Christian’s article to the tsroadmap, it says the following: “In conclusion, transexualism is strongly associated with the neurodevelopment of the brain.”

In her post and the replies to it discussion occurs regarding the effect of DES use on expectant mothers to minimize the risk of miscarriage during the postwar timeframe and up to 1970. I was born at the time when DES was in peak use, before it began to be challenged. I have no specific record yet of it being administered to my Mom, but its use and subsequent fallout was very prevalent in the area of the country where I was born.

Apparently the use of DES also yielded a high occurrence of left handed children, as I have mentioned elsewhere I am left handed too. I have always seen my left handedness as an indication that my mind is wired differently from others, I can only imagine how very differently!

In my reply to Christian’s post, I also described how much stress my dear mother was under in at least the first and second trimesters of the pregnancy, when so much of fetal brain development occurs. It seems clear that is potentially a contributing factor as well.

Finally spiritual, this is the category that I cannot just remember and can’t put into a balance and weigh. At some future day I will know the answers, so as I said at the beginning in this I walk by faith not yet knowing.

However, consistent with the principle found in Doctrine and Covenants 130:18, “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection”, turning it around some, because I feel that my brain is decidedly female, and the attributes (or principles of intelligence to align with the scripture) I have and am developing here will go with me into the next life, I am trusting that they will be in righteous harmony with my spirit in the next life. Or said a different way for me to be congruous I can only feel right if my spirit and mind are aligned and it is my body that is out of synch in this life.

Or said another way still, who I am IS my thoughts and feelings (all decidedly female) it is what is in my head and heart, that is who I will be when I leave this mismatched body behind through the process of temporal death.

I have often wondered how I will resurrect. I have trust in a merciful God who will make me beautiful and right in that day, with all parts congruous. I believe that will be my reward because of Jesus Christ. I know in that day it will be His will and not mine that will be done, and I would not consider debating the outcome with him. I am trying to learn to trust Him enough that I will be aligned with whatever His will is. But as I read the scriptures, it causes me to feel peace that I am on track and developing the thoughts and feelings that are right for me, and therefore I sense that I have a beautiful female spirit going through a difficult mortal challenge for a wise purpose that He understands and that someday I will too!

In conclusion, I feel like I have an intersex condition, perhaps not traditional in every sense of the definition, but to me it feels intersex none the less. I am not male or female totally, but I feel that my emotional, mental and spiritual self is female, while housed in this life in an atypical male body, that the world sees and assigns as male. In other words, I am a transgender person.

I hope that this has not been too personal, I feel like I am really way out on the limb with all this detail, but it has been so helpful to think it through and write it all down.

If you made it this far without skipping, thanks for reading! Love, Laurie.

3 comments:

  1. Wow Laurie, that's a pretty detailed post all right! You've clearly given all of this a lot of thought over the years.
    Reply
    Replies
    1. Sure enough, hopefully I didn't cross the line. However if it is food for thought, enjoy the feast!
  2. My Dear Precious Laurie,
    This was a beautiful post, even though I'm reading it 2 months later. We've only known each other less than a month, so you'd been well into this stuff by then.

    As you know by now, I relate to virtually everything you spoke about in your childhood. Massive effects the Vietnam War had on me took a toll on my emotions too. Hearing Uncle Walt every night start by saying,"Today in Saigon....." My Kindergarten techer wrote on my report cards (that I recently looked at) stated, "Bobby likes to wear dresses during pretend. He takes the girls role, and would rather play with the girls. When he draws, he is often crying, and when he draws military pictures they are sad, not patriotic. Bobby is being affected by the War in an unhealthy way, and may need help in coping. Bobby is a dreamer. Bobby is always helping and more concerned with the success of others above himself". She was telling my folks basically, "your son is actually your daughter" I still remember the kids I was helping all the time. I was a loving and nurturing little girl, that gad no care for personal success or competition.

    The fishing thing is totally the same with me. My dad always wanted to take me fishing, but I really hated it. I hated everything about it. Sitting around waiting for something to happen seemed so stupid. The gross worms and hooks, and killing animals was all very unappealing to me. Getting hooked in the fave will contribute to ones dislike of fishing as well.

    As for sports, I guess we are different. I believe strongly I am XXY chromosomed, but for different, and some similar reasons. I was small and delicate until at 14 it was decided I was going through female puberty. 7 years of poison T was administered to me to force an unnatural male puberty onto me. Even with the poison T, it took till age 19 to have male puberty.

    So, I was small and delicate in my youth. My doctor diagnosed me with a heart murmur on top of that! He said, "now Bobby, you probably come in last in your races at school...you wont be able to keep up with them........" My response was, no way, I'm the fastest and the strongest. (well maybe not strongest)I broke all the Elementary and Middle school records for the western arm hang. I played little league baseball, dreaming I was Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, or Reggie Jackson. I even had a bright red Reggie Jackson glove that I still can fit my small feminine hands into, so I still use that and nothing else. I routinely homered and won games in walk-off fashion. But my main love was hockey. Maybe inspired by a Saturday Afternoon Canadian movie about a girl who pretended to be a boy to play hockey. I grew up on the border, and visited Canada every week. Hockey games were on every day and night. I wanted to be a Prima, with the white skates and skirts. But hockey got me on the ice, and it was a true fit. It was just meant to be, to tend goal, and stop all those boys dreams of ever being a hero. Turns out I was good enough to play competitively for 19 years, but not my dream of the NHL, like Ken Dryden.

    I like how you went through all the aspects of ones self as being the proof that you are really a woman. I am convinced. You are a woman.

    Thank you for this post. There is quite a lot of helpful information here. And quite a lot of insight into your personality and the real you. Me Likey!

    Hugs and Kisses for a Dear Sissy,

    Leah-Loreli
    ReplyDelete



No comments:

Post a Comment