Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the myth of two sexes

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Unformatted text preview: w something was really wrong. While the boys were becoming men and the girls were becoming women, I had little boobs and an “outtie” that didn’t even develop like the boys’. My “boy bits” had always Where Our Sexes Come From 91 been different, very small, and didn’t change at puberty, nor did I develop normal hair growth. Aside from a luxurious head of hair, I had only a few fine hairs on my face and a light pubic fuzz. At home Dianne continued to keep a low profile, and her mother continued to act as though nothing was happening even as Dianne’s bed piled over with stuffed animals, her dresser gathered makeup, and her closet filled with dresses. But when she was away from her mother, Dianne began to dress more and more like her girlfriends. She wore makeup; her behavior became more and more feminine. For a while, that worked. But though she was playing it all close to the vest, Dianne was on a collision course with herself. It was also around age thirteen or fourteen something else of critical importance happened in my life. While spending the evening with the boy I had a serious crush on, we were laying on the floor listening to music, he took me in his arms and kissed me—not a tentative “peck” but a full-blown passionate kiss, full on the lips! The feeling was like being struck by lightning! All of a sudden I felt passion, sexual energy like never before. I knew that what I was feeling were “girl feelings,” not “boy feelings,” and, if it hadn’t been for my physical impediment, I would have lost my virginity that night. . . . My “crush” had suddenly turned to “first love.” After the kiss, my boyfriend released me, stared into the carpet, and said “Please change into [something less alluring] before . . .” I went into the bedroom to change and had a good cry. Dianne continued to love that young man for the next ten years. But every one of those years was filled with frustration as well as desire. Dianne’s “condition” stood between them and any traditional consummation of that love. But the kiss and that love convinced her; she wanted her boyfriend, their intimacy, and the possibility of marriage and children. 92 Between XX and XY The forces tearing at Dianne overwhelmed her, but when she asked her mother if she could see a doctor about her problems, Dianne’s mother refused. There was, she felt, no real reason Dianne needed to see a doctor. For over a year, Dianne continued to plead her case, until she wore her mother down and was allowed to see a doctor. It turned out that Dianne’s testosterone and estrogen levels were both low. The physician suggested to her mother that Dianne start taking a hefty dose of testosterone to “make a man out of her.” Dianne flipped. “I’d rather take cyanide!” she told her mother. That was 1965. By then at least some doctors knew about cases of unusual sexual development. But this particular doctor didn’t pursue the matter of Dianne’s sex. It might have been partial gonadal dysgenesis. It could have been bits of chromosomes slipping from place to place, or it might have been any number of other things, some of which we have names for and some of which we don’t. At the time, no one seemed to care enough to follow up with Dianne. Regardless of the cause, the solution seemed obvious. As it turned out, Dianne never did uncover just how she differed from other boys and girls. For her, too, the exact cause became irrelevant. Resolution was the real issue. She refused the testosterone. Since age five, Dianne had been regularly running away from home, usually to an abandoned cabin she had discovered in nearby woods. There she would live on vegetables she had stolen from neighbors’ root cellars. After three or four days—when she figured her mother had calmed enough to allow her back into the house—Dianne would return home. That pattern began to change when Dianne turned fifteen. One day, while listening to a radio program, Dianne heard the story of a person classified as a female, but who felt certain that she was a he. Suddenly Dianne no longer felt alone. Someone else had a problem just like hers, only in reverse. She wrote to the radio station, and the people there forwarded her letter to the person Dianne had listened to. He wrote back, and Dianne ran off to Toronto to meet him. In Toronto there were others, lots of others, some just like Dianne. And some of these Where Our Sexes Come From 93 people’s parents completely accepted that their children were different. Soon Dianne had a new place to run to. Now she ran to the homes of understanding friends and understanding parents. Not only that, but in Toronto, Dianne could live as a girl. No one there had ever known her as anything else. She began to go every weekend, changing her clothes on the train as she sped toward her friends. It was a delight to be able to meet other teens, go out to clubs and dances, and just be a normal girl in every way. Going home was always hard. Chang...
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This document was uploaded on 02/04/2014.

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