| BY CURVE STAFF
What it’s like growing up Intersex.
My earliest memory of this journey is my mom taking me to the doctor and having a pelvic exam at age thirteen.
She was worried because I was not developing breasts and had not started my period.
After a couple of visits to the family doctor they decided that I needed to go to a specialist at the hospital. I remember being taken into a room by two doctors and told to disrobe and put on a hospital gown.
My parents remained in the waiting room. Then they had me lay on the medical table, put my feet in the stirrups, and spread my legs at the knees.
I remember feeling so self-conscience. Then the two doctors started poking and prodding me, inserting fingers and medical utensils inside me.
I remember wincing in pain. I suppose this is how I lost my virginity.
Then they brought in more doctors to look at me and touch me. I’m not sure how many doctors ended up coming into the room to see my “abnormality”. In my mind, it seems like there must have been at least twenty. When I close my eyes and think back to that day, all I see is a room was filled with white coats. I felt like I was a freak show.
Even now, many years later, just the sight of a white coat makes me anxious. Looking back, because I felt like I had no choice about what was happening, I consider this the first time I was raped. I know I really wasn’t raped, but that is what it felt like. After the doctors were done with me, they told me to get dressed and have a seat. I did as they asked. Only two doctors remained in the room with me. They sat in front of me and told me that I had abnormal ovaries that should be removed because they were pre-cancerous. I was informed that I could never have biological children, but I could have a “normal” sex life.
They brought my parents back and told them the same thing. About then, I think I must have went into shock. I didn’t cry. I didn’t ask any questions. I didn’t respond. I couldn’t bring myself to speak for the next three days. Worse yet, I spent the next fourteen years of my life worried that the cancer would come back.
I am not sure how much time passed before I had my surgery. I think it was a couple of weeks. I was admitted into the hospital and was assigned a room in the pediatric ward. The two year old little boy in the room with me was a burn victim. He had pulled a pot of boiling water off the stove and on to himself. Any flowers sent for me had to be taken directly to my home, because there couldn’t be any pollen in the room.
I remember feeling so sad for the little boy. His parents stayed with him day and night. Secretively and selfishly, I was so glad that they were there because I was very frightened and I didn’t really know what was going to happen to me next.
I don’t remember much before the surgery, but I do remember being wheeled back to my room on the gurney after the surgery.
It felt like they were hitting every crack and hole in the floor. It felt like my stomach was being ripped apart. They gave me a shot for the pain when I got back to my room. I fell back to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up they wanted me to empty my bladder. I tried, but I couldn’t. They inserted a catheter inside me to drain my bladder.
They kept me in the hospital for a few days before I could go home. I remember forcing myself to walk, wheeling my IV up and down the hospital hallway, each time trying to stand up a little straighter and not walk all hunched over. I was pretty much sliced from hipbone to hipbone across my lower tummy, so doing anything except lay on my side with a pillow against my stomach was pure agony. When I finally got home, my mom told me that the doctor said to tell people that I had my appendix removed.
She said that no one would understand what really happened, and people would make fun of me if they knew the truth. I couldn’t figure out why someone would make fun of me for having pre-cancerous ovaries, but I did as she asked.
After the surgery, I had monthly doctor visits to make sure everything was progressing the way they had hoped. Each time the doctor would do a pelvic exam and ask me if I had a boyfriend and if I was having sex yet. This led me to believe that I better get a boyfriend and have sex, otherwise the doctor would not think I was “normal”.
So I did just that. I found a boyfriend. It took a while to work up the courage to have sex, especially since I was so self-conscience of my body with the scar across my abdomen and the bald vagina between my legs. Finally, at my 15th birthday party, my boyfriend who was a year older than me, told me that if I didn’t have sex with him he was going to break up with me. I panicked because if I didn’t have a boyfriend the doctor would tell my parents that something was wrong with me.