• Born Female?

    by Jesse Loren

    This is probably the most intimate thing I have ever written. It is emerging in the way one pulls a body from mud. You reach in and get nothing. You reach in and maybe get a hand or foot. Sometimes you get the body. The mud is in my head.

    Today, my husband got a pair of pruning shears, wielded them while walking out the back door, and said to the dog, “Joe, you are about to get fixed.”

    Joe is a long-haired Jack Russell of unknown age. We are taking care of him for my mother who could not handle his exuberance. He is chipped, collared, a frequent runaway, and he is fixed.

    The brutal image of my husband wielding the long-handled loppers simultaneously jolted me because of my feelings for Joe, but at the same time something happened to me.

    I doubled over as if I was kicked in the nuts. I had the complete phantom sensation of having my penis threatened with mutilation.

    Did I mention I am a 48-year-old female and mother or 3 kids?

    Is it even possible for a female to have a cremaster effect?

    I am totally embarrassed to even talk about this, but I am pretty sure anyone would be weirded-out by this phantom sensation.

    It reminded me of one of the most tragic moments in my entire life.

    My household was a circus-like atmosphere of music, mystery, and religion, with no shortage of sibling rivalry. One great part of growing up was the encouragement to stay outside. I spent most of my free time tagging along with my older brothers, playing baseball, football, over-the-line, ditch-em, riding bikes, spitting, whistling, climbing walls and scaling fences. I was small, fast, strong, and one of the gang. On hot days, I wanted to take my shirt off with the boys. We were virtually the same. I had little tolerance for the girls in my neighborhood because they were conniving, stealing, mean little girls. I did not understand them. They were incredibly boring. I hated their manipulation and preoccupation with talking and not doing.

    Then it happened.

    My body betrayed me. I could not take my shirt off and play baseball, but I tried.

    In childhood, mom frequently said in conversation with strangers, “When she gets older, I’m going to put her in a box.” The fear of the box crept into my nightmares.

    About that time my parents started keeping me in the house.

    Puberty terrified me. Even its first inklings.

    Becoming a girl was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

    Being a girl meant I had to betray my interests. It meant betrayal of self and isolation. I hated it. I learned to be a girl a lot like someone learns to play the piano. It meant I made a lot of mistakes, especially faking my way through early boy-girl relationships.

    I was a hostage held under a foreign government.

    Am I going to switch sides, now that I remember? Well no. But I do deeply understand that being born with a gender that doesn’t completely match your mind is a lot like having a cleft palate or a super memory. Sometimes the cleft requires surgery. Sometimes it is hard to fit in. Sometimes it is hard for people to have empathy for people who aren’t like them. Sometimes it is hard to have empathy for one’s self.

    There are many versions of gender. To think there are only two versions is about as ignorant as thinking all people have the same intellect, emotion, empathy, and opportunity. Look around. One day in a public school would convince anyone. We are certainly all different.

    My husband was only joking about Joe. I told him about my strange sensation and he laughed. The only things that got clipped in my yard were some sucker branches that are taking over the yard like rogue religions going forth and multiplying.

    • Interesting… I just watched the Oprah Winfrey interview with Chas Bono… same sort of themes. She ultimately did become a he.
      All in all, I think you make a great she, with he ripples… 🙂
      If you can at least explore the thoughts and talk about them, I think it takes the pressure off.

      • Judith Newton

      • May 11, 2011 at 7:44 am
      • Reply

      This really captures the fluidity of gender identity. Intimate, well written, and important.

    • Jesse, very interesting article today. I, too watched the Oprah show Becoming Chaz. I think there are many different mixes within us. Male energy and female energy. I was never a tom boy but my sister was. I am often told that I think like a guy in various ways-business acumen for sure (why is that more guy) and also that I am so determined in some areas (again why we see that as guy stuff). I also know men who have well developed female sides (emotions, talking a lot and empathy) again why female traits. Because our DNA is a mixture of our dad and mom it is likely that we have some of both personalities and traits and how we develop them makes us who we are. With Chaz it was confusing to me because he felt like a lesbian first and then wanted to be male yet hasn’t done his bottom part yet. He feels and acts male but has a vagina. Interesting how we all grow and change. I find this topic of gender identification really interesting. I just hope after someone changes it is all they hoped it would be. Chaz seemed happy, his girlfriend (lesbian) not so much. I do feel sorry if someone is so unhappy with who they are for whatever reason.

      • Christy

      • May 11, 2011 at 9:55 am
      • Reply

      Very good Jesse. I have two friends with gender dysmorphic disorder, and I can tell you that their gender transformation wasn’t a “choice” but a necessity. The pain of being born with the “wrong” genitalia runs so deep. Both of my friends went from female to male, and both seem so much more “themselves” with this dramatic change. People who have not experienced this (either themselves or empathetically as a friend) do not understand it one bit, and can be very resistant. I’m so happy you shared your experience and the confusing emotions behind this type of situation. I hope you can now explore the different parts of your soul regardless of gender identity. You are you…not mater if you’re a Mrs. or a Mr.

    • just watched the documentary “Becoming Chaz” and I agree that as humans we are each completely unique. I think we all have both genders in us, some have stronger leanings toward one side or another. The important thing is that we accept one another as we are, and live true to ourselves. No other judgment matters. Thanks for your honesty Jesse.

    • The especial skill that humans have to categorize is helpful when trying to navigate a world of information, but is so detrimental when dealing with specifics – or individuals, and detrimental in so many ways – one of which you have thoughtfully narrated here. Thank you Jesse.

      • Jesse

      • May 11, 2011 at 11:21 am
      • Reply

      I don’t have a television and I didn’t watch Oprah….FYI.

    • Jesse, I think it is on the computer as well. Amazing discussion. I am only hoping those that have to go through this don’t suffer like Chaz but I am afraid they do. If we could only accept someone’s choices about gender as well as we do other things. Or right not everyone does that either. Thanks for the discussion.

      • Jesse

      • May 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm
      • Reply

      Yes, I think there are multiplicities of things going on here. One, gender in its simple form is defined by our parts, but then we are also big bag of blood, water, hormones, genes and neurons. We also have families, personal histories and communities; that makes for a lot of influences and a lot of room for differences.

      For me, my dread of being a girl started with an early understanding of being treated differently. My father was very creative as an artist, a brilliant musician, but a womanizer. My mom was/is fabulous, but back then she perfected the Catholic- falling on the sword, martyr for Jesus stuff. The idea then was that suffering was good and women who suffered were good women. ( Puh-lease!)
      I think I was able to look at those two roles pretty clearly and knew the one I happened to be roped into was no fun. Besides, I just wasn’t interested. I definitely am wired a little differently. Many people find that refreshing. ON the scale of difference, if there was a scale, I am on the side of not fitting in, but managing. I can only speak for my own wee experience.

    • Geeze, I cant get a word in here edegwise! Great, now I forgot what I was going to say.

        • Jesse

        • May 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm
        • Reply

        I feel that way all of the time DONald!

      • Kelvin

      • May 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm
      • Reply

      Wow. Very open. Great piece about a subject that isn’t often broached. I totally get this.

    • Jesse, I remember that story you told me about the piano… kinda heartbreaking. And, just one story in a series of stories… *hugs*

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