Friday of that week school was out for a “Teachers’ Workday”. I was awakened by my cell phone impatiently buzzing about a new text message. Lisa wanted to spend the day together. A lot of people would think it weird that my BF is a girl; but being cousins made it somewhat OK. We had similar feelings on a lot of things and really felt comfortable together.
Things were soon to change, anyway. My dad was getting a promotion at work and we would be moving almost 200 miles. We would still be in Texas, though.
At ‘The Most Important Meal of the Day’ I consumed enough calories to last me a week, then went back to my room to get ready to go to Lisa’s house. Just then, however, my mom knocked on my door. “Honey, please come to the kitchen for a minute. We’d like to talk to you just a little.” What had I done? I searched my brain’s memory banks found nothing punishable. I was rarely punished, because I rarely did anything punishable.
My dad sat at the kitchen table expressionless with his arms folded. I sat at the table across from him. My mom sat down and began, “Honey, when a baby is born, the first thing people notice is the sex of the child. It’s easy to determine, but someone in the room is sure to comment, ‘It’s a girl.’ or ‘It’s a boy’. I say ‘easy to determine’, because it usually is easy. Sometimes, however, it’s not so easy. In cases like that, the ‘diagnosis’ can be incorrect.”
“Mom, you’re not talking about me, right? Are you trying to tell me y’all thought I was a girl?”
“No, honey, we thought you were a boy….”
“But I am a…. Wait … You thought …. OK … this makes no sense at all. You thought I was a boy … I am a boy … so what’s the problem?”
“It’s called ‘anomalous genitalia’. You have two “X” chromosomes and all the internal organs of a female, but as you grew in the womb you developed a small semblance of a penis and testicles.”
“I’m a girl?” My heart was pounding and I felt my face turning red.
“Honey, I know it’s a shock. It’s a life changer. You could try to continue living as a boy, but you would have to have major surgery to remove your reproductive organs, then you would need hormone therapy to cause your body to develop male characteristics. Otherwise your body would continue to develop as a female. The doctor says that medically, the best course of action is to remove the superfluous tissue and allow you to develop as a female. The doctor gave me the name of a counselor. It might help to talk to someone like that.”
“Mom … this is insane!” My mind was racing as I went through the thousands of changes I would have to endure. Clothing was a big one. School? Oh…crap! I just show up in a dress? The scenario was as scary as it was predictable. Dating guys? Nope … can’t do it! Marriage … in a wedding gown … to a guy? Never! Wait … I can get pregnant! I had heard some incredible things before, but I was facing something more unreal than any of them! I felt trapped. There was no escape. The hormones produced in my body would cause people around me to witness as I turned from a boy to a girl.
I heard a voice from somewhere. Oh, it was my mom! “… working in your favor. Your dad’s transfer at work is scheduled for May. You can finish the school year as you are. You can have surgery and take the summer to adapt. In September, you can start fresh in a new town … new school. It will be a big adjustment for your dad and me, also. We have a daughter instead of a son. We have always had a daughter, but we tried to raise you as a boy. Also, you can be a mom, but not a dad...biologically.
Strangely, I wanted to giggle at that moment. I stifled that and looked at my dad. He was still sitting quietly and I turned to him. “Dad … help?”
“Son … uh … daughter …” he smiled, “We got this information yesterday and I was angry and wanted to blame someone. I wasn’t angry about having a daughter instead of a son. I was angry that the doctors misled us, causing you years of pain trying to fit in. I tried in my mind to blame the doctors, your mom, even you. I finally realized that, if it is anyone’s fault, it doesn’t matter. From this point, what you need is support, not accusations or ridicule. I also want you to realize that you are not at fault in any way. I also want you to know that our love for you is unconditional. We want to help you adjust to the changes coming your way. I loved my son from the day he was born, and now I love my daughter from the day she was born … actually the same day. I think we all see things coming into focus now…things that we didn’t even know were out of focus! Can I say now that you weren’t much of a boy…too feminine? I never would have said that before today, but it’s actually a compliment. Any girl would have a hard time trying to fit in as a boy. You probably did better than some. There may be some tough times ahead, but your mom and I will help you any way we can. By the way, you are exempt from lawn mowing effective immediately. I’ll take care of the lawn…and the grass snakes.” He smiled again…a “yes, I knew” smile.
Mom spoke again, “Well, we’ve given you a lot to absorb. Take some time to think. We love you and will help you any way we can. You can choose to continue living as a boy, but the doctor strongly discouraged that.”
I went to my room, plopped across the bed, and thought. This was too much. Even though I had thought maybe should have been born a girl, I had never given serious thought to it…never had a reason to. Once the doctor says, “It’s a boy”, your path in life is limited to certain parameters. But now the doctor was saying, in effect, “Oops!”, and I would pay the price for his little oversight. I now had to step over the line and take on a new set of expectations…both of myself and others. I thought about a line from the movie Some Like it Hot, “I tell you… it’s a whole different sex.” With all these thoughts swirling through my brain, I cried. Was I angry? ...happy? ...what? I was confused. I decided to stop my crying and think logically. “Make this a good thing”, I thought. No more mowing the lawn. No more smelly, filthy boy’s locker room. Plus, I won’t have to sneak into my mom’s room and borrow my mom’s clothing. But my wish was to be a girl from the start, not to change in mid-stream. Oh, well…this was good, too. I got off my bed, stood looking in the mirror with my hands on my hips. Aloud, I said, “OK, dummy, you wanted to be a girl, right? Let’s enjoy this.”
Mom tapped lightly on my bedroom door and stuck her head in. “I didn’t want to say this in front of your dad, but now you can get your own dresses and makeup.” She smiled and winked.
She knew all along!
Mom mentioned a counselor. I didn’t need a counselor; I needed my very best friend. Lisa’s text was still unanswered, so I typed “OMW” and started out for her house.
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