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Diane: Story

[See Information on Re-publishing.]

It has been a very long journey from my birth in 1964 to my present life at age 32. The road has been long and windy and the faces along the side of it many. Some of those faces have been instrumental in getting me to the end of that road, while others were mere strangers, gawking in cold glances at what they perceived to be a freak of nature. Or was it that I took it that way, that they perceived I was a freak? Now that I am at the end of this particular road, I can honestly question whether it was me who questioned by own validity, my own freakness of nature, not necessarily the strange faces that I passed on my lonely road. Sitting down now to type this I can see that I am NOT a freak of nature, that I do have validity in the world, and that I am an important, valuable, and lovable creature who can love, does love, and wants to be loved. It took me the better part of my 32 years of life to reach this blessedly happy place!

For many years I automatically thought that everyone I knew, or everyone who knew me, knew that I was a hermaphrodite. This is an uncomfortable position to be in because one never knows when another will use it against you, making you wait silently for the explosion to be set off. But no one did know, and when I would tell someone they never reacted rudely or uncaring or mean. As a matter of fact, I can't think of anyone who was not understanding, sympathetic and supportive. If it weren't for the many faces I met on my road to understanding myself, I probably would not have arrived at the end, or the right end. No, I think I would have died along the road, a victim of loneliness, isolation, hurt, guilt, great despair and sadness; a victim of self- imposed starvation, alcoholism, drug abuse, self-imposed violence. When we carry our burdens by ourselves we start to imagine that others watching us are oblivious to our plight, oblivious to our pain and suffering; what we ourselves are oblivious to is the fact that they do not know our burdens if we do not tell them. This is the crux of my road, the salvation of my lonely, tired body, my aching spirit, my downtrodden psyche; for if I had never told a soul my burden, my burden would have stolen my soul.

In August of 1964 I entered the world of planet Earth to a family of two loving, supportive parents, and five siblings. My oldest sister sat under the kitchen table and cried because they had been told the latest baby was a boy. She had wanted another girl to even out the numbers of three boys and two girls. I was the fourth boy in the family. However, I really wasn't a boy! In some ways now that I look back at the situation I was very lucky to have been born with a congenital heart defect. The reason is because I had my first of four heart surgeries at age three months and my parents were so worried about whether I would live or not, that awkward decision of raising me as a boy or a girl wasn't a crucial decision to them, as it has been to many other parents of hermaphroditic children. Although my parents did decide to raise me as a girl after the first heart surgery at three month of age, they never made an issue of it, or made me feel like a freak of nature because of it. I remember once when I was about two or three, sitting in the bath tub with my sister who was a year and a half older than me, when my mother told me that my genitals were different than my sister's and that I would have surgery one day to make them look like her's. By that time I had already realized that, but I felt ashamed and guilty when my mother told me this. She didn't mean any harm by it, and never made me feel different as a result of my abnormal genitals, but she did want to emphasize that someday I would have genitals like the other girls had. The sad truth is that I will never have genitals like other women, no matter what surgeons or parents tell me. Unfortunately, I realized this after I had surgery, and that is where my journey really took a massive turn for the worst, and I slid totally out of control on my road to understanding myself.

Genetically I am a male, a person with XY chromosomes. My diagnosis is male pseudo hermaphrodite. There are many types of hermaphrodites but I will only try to explain my type because this is my own, personal story. I once had a psychiatrist, who is also a board certified pediatric endocrinologist, explain the complex and confusing gender map to me. Every fetus starts out looking the same way in the beginning of development, then depending on what genetic sex you are supposed to be, i.e. XY=male or XX=female, your body reads those chromosomes like a blueprint. If the chromosomes are XY the body will start to produce testosterone in mass quantities compared to estrogen, if the chromosomes are XX the reverse will happen, mass quantities of estrogen will be produced compared to testosterone. Then the body will begin to develop the gonads into male or female sex organs, such as testes for men and ovaries for women, from the mass amounts of hormones it is receiving. But there are receptor sites that bind the hormones and accept them, if the hormone is not accepted for some reason, the body cannot develop into it's chromosomally correct type, i.e. male or female. There can also be a problem with the production of the hormone itself, either it is not being produced or not being produced in a large enough quantity to reach normal sexual organ development for the baby. There are many other scenarios of error in sexual development of a fetus, but this is a basic scenario, in which I am most comfortable with in my understanding. If there is a problem with the development of the internal sex organs there may be errors with the external development of the genitals themselves. These problems can also be associated with kidney, bladder and urethral deformities since the urinary-genital tract is connected and male and female differentiated. If you have a basic understanding of this medical explanation, you should be able to understand my particular situation. Since I am genetically male, my body began to produce testosterone in large quantities to change my gonads into testes. For some reason my body either stopped producing testosterone after it had started or it produced it in such small quantities that my body never developed like a normal fetal boy, or my receptor sites didn't accept the testosterone. As such is the case, my gonads were "streaked" which meant that they were undeveloped, laying dormant in my lower abdominal region, not having descended into the scrotum. I had had enough testosterone however, to produce ambiguous genitals. The external genitalia, as they get stimulated by either mass quantities of testosterone or estrogen, develop into a penis with testicles or a vagina with a clitoris and labia. If the body is developing into a male, the labia fuse together, the clitoris becomes enlarged and forms into a penis, and the labia become two testicles, one on either side of the penis. If the body is developing into a female, then the early sexual organs and structures just keep on track and further mature into female genitalia and sexual organs. But as in my case, since the testosterone wasn't produced or accepted, whatever the case may be, my body was in total limbo, not having developed into a full-blown male, but not developing into a female either, because I had no female sexual organs or structures whatsoever. My sexual development stopped right at the point where the labia had fused together, forming the one large scrotum that will later split apart, and in fact you could see where the skin had fused together on the underside of the ambiguous genital. The clitoris was beginning to form a penis but was still inside the ambiguous genital. My urethral opening was on the bottom of the genital. This is all very important to understand because my anatomy on the outside of my body was one of my largest stumbling blocks on my road to understanding myself.

While my parents did a remarkable job of raising me strictly as a girl, I was not so sure myself that I was one. With two older sisters and three older brothers, I could tell that I was different, even without anyone mentioning it to me. And then of course the many horrible, tense visits to the pediatric endocrinologist to have my genitals gawked, fondled, and stared at by hordes of what I perceived to be nasty, despicable men, had me questioning my own existence as a person, male or female. Incredible as it may sound, I distinctly remember when I was about one year old being passed from my mother to the doctor. I had on a frilly blue dress and was crying so hard they had to give me back to her. We were all in the hallway and I remember thinking I hated being there and I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there! I had been remembering parts of this scene during my two years in therapy when one day in one of my sessions, I recalled the unpleasantness of it all. After that I did feel wholly relieved of the entire bad memory, but still occasionally cry when I think about it too intensely. Going to these nasty, gut-wrenching visits, or rather prison cells, was forced on me from birth through my corrective surgery at eighteen years of age. When I was in the seventh grade they were going to do the corrective surgery but for some reason did not. I wish to God they would have because it would have allowed me to have normal middle and high school years than what I had. Since I had "streaked gonads" taken out when I was three years old, they should have corrected the ambiguous genitals, in my opinion, because the decision to raise me as a girl had been made and I had no use for that "thing" that hung down between my legs! It has been explained to me that "streaked gonads" don't respond to testosterone therapy, so my body wouldn't have developed into a man if they had given it to me. I'm not sure whether this is true or not, but it's not important at this stage in my life. The real psychological impact on me seems to be that once they decided to raise me as a girl and then three years later took out my "streaked gonads", but that when they did remove them, they didn't finish the job by removing the ambiguous genitals. If I wasn't going to develop into a man, what was the point in leaving the ambiguous genitals intact, other than to screw me up psychologically and preclude me from dating and participating normally with my peers? It is obvious that I looked like a girl from my baby pictures and home movies before I had the gonads taken out, so they were not creating testosterone, which would make me look like a boy. So at that point of gonadal removal, there was no reason whatsoever to NOT finish the job. I do have to admit, though, that infant pictures do reveal me looking somewhat like a boy, but after about two years old I was looking like a girl. I'm not sure what early medical intervention was done because I cannot get a hold of my medical records. I have been trying for the past year, and the hospital tells me that my four-volume chart is lost! That is another whole issue to deal with, but I would like to say that many of my intersexed friends have had the same problem.

When I arrived in middle school and they required us to take showers after gym class, I had to have my mother call the teacher and request that I take a private shower. Of course I was questioned by the other girls and thankfully had the legitimate excuse of my heart surgery scars as a way of explaining my private shower. By that time I had three heart surgeries under my belt, which of course contributed to my spinning out of control on my road to understanding myself. But I also had three ear surgeries by this time and they also sped up my spinning out of control. I wouldn't realize until many years later that all of these surgeries and physical problems had much more control over me than I knew. Although I identified as a female, I couldn't help but question my sexual identity when I saw my girlfriend's develop breasts, start menstruating, and having dates with boys. Here I was, the brunt of every cruel joke middle and high school boy's have in their adolescent minds; "hurry up and serve those pancakes" is one that comes to mind. I heard that joke, or rather lack of joke, time and again all through high school. I didn't date all through high school, except for two times; one was in my freshman year when a grade school friend asked me to the movies, but failed to pay for me, and the other was when a boy asked me to the T.W.I.R.P. dance (the woman is required to pay), so in essence he asked me to a dance I was supposed to ask him to! While the first one was an embarrassing flop and ended up in the bra and underwear section of the J.C. Penny store next to the theater (what was the meaning behind that one I wonder know!), the other was much more relaxed and normal. However, it would be my last date until years later. I didn't participate in the swimming section of the gym class because if I put on the swimsuit my ambiguous genitals were quite obvious compared to my peer's genitals. I remember trying to explain to my doctor to write me a note to excuse me because of my ear problems, but both he and my mother agreed that I needed to learn to swim, and that I could just use my ear mold and a swim cap. Later in the car I told my mom the real reason why I didn't want to go, and she promptly got the doctor to write me an excuse. This was one of my first experiences in sharing my burden, thus lifting the weight off of myself to carry this tortured monster alone.

Although I had friends in high school and went out occasionally, most of my time was spent alone in my room, especially on those long Friday and Saturday nights. One of the things that saved me was my involvement in church and a club called AWANAS - named from the verse II Timothy 2:15 from the bible. It means "all approved workmen are not ashamed." Funny now that I think of it, this verse really DOES apply to me!! God approves of me, therefore I am NOT ashamed. Too bad I didn't realize this much sooner! Unfortunately some of my time was spent with friends who drank and drugged and hung out in a city park. I vacillated back and forth between this group and my church group, either finding solace in God and his people, or alcohol and satan's minions. By the time I got through high school, I was a mental mess, not sure of what to do with my life, and not motivated to do anything once I did decide. However, I did begin to date a fellow who was in the military. I had met him as a result of hanging out at the military recruiting offices in my town, something I had done for several years, almost from the time my oldest brother had gone off into the marine corps. I think it was a way for me to feel like I fit in somewhere, where the people accepted me just the way I was. I actually tried three times to get into the military, but with my history of heart surgery I was not an ideal candidate. I wonder how I would have handled being intersexed in the military, where one has NO privacy? I think God rescued me from my own embarrassment here! Anyway, having dated this fellow in the military for a while, I realized that sex was an issue I was going to have to face, whether I wanted to or not. I decided that yes, I did want to get married, have sex, and raise a family like most other people did. Although I couldn't physically have any children, I could always adopt. So although this fellow and I never got very serious about each other, he was the catalyst for my corrective surgery, which faced me squarely in the eye of my biggest obstacle on my road to understanding myself.

So at the age of eighteen years, exactly one year after I graduated from high school (one semester early because I hated being there, reminded of how different I was from the rest), I checked into the university hospital where I had been seen from birth, and where I had my three heart surgeries and three ear surgeries. By the time I finished being seen there as a patient a year and a half later, there were four huge volumes to my chart. I spent three weeks there for the first surgery, called a vaginoplasty, which is where they literally make "vagina" for you. It was far more painful than heart surgery, which is VERY painful mind you, especially when you have a thoracotomy, which is an incision from the middle of your chest, under the left breast and arm, and up to and around your shoulder blade. I had, by that time, the same incision cut three times, and was still yet to have it cut another when I would be twenty-six years old. I went into the operating room a few days before I was discharged to have the "metal stint" taken out of the vagina, which had kept it open. The skin graft they placed took 80%, which meant 20% of the vagina was raw. The skin graft was taken from my left hip. It took months to completely take, and was quite painful when I put in the mold at home to keep the vagina open. Two months later I was re-hospitalized and the vagina was revised to make it larger. I remember that when I was in this time, a resident told me there was a girl down the hall who was having the same surgery done. But when I asked to meet her, I got the cold shoulder, and the resident had obviously gotten chewed out by the surgeon for mentioning it to me. As unfortunate as it is, all too often intersexuals are purposely kept from meeting each other. I think the reason is because surgeons and doctors are afraid that once together, they will revolt against the forced surgeries many of us have endured when very young. Then two months later I had my breast implants put in, silicone shell, silicone filled, which absolutely MADE my day. Of course I worry about all of the negative effects of silicone that are suspected, but what am I to do about it now? I wouldn't get rid of my implants unless I was really forced to! It is kind of hard for someone who hasn't been born the way I was, but I can explain it this way. When we got to the hospital there was a question about payment, and since it was considered elective plastic surgery, the hospital required that the bill be paid prior to the surgery since insurance companies didn't pay for the implants. Well, my parents weren't prepared to pay the bill, and I had become very upset because I couldn't wait to get my boobs put in! My mother turned to me and said, "well, you will just have to walk around the rest of your life with a padded bra." It isn't that simple folks! I liken it to telling someone who was born with no arms to knit an afghan blanket. It's pretty tough to do that with no arms, isn't it? Isn't hard to be a woman without the parts as well, especially if you never even had ANY parts to begin with? You can accept yourself all you want, but when push comes to shove, it would be impossible for me anyway, to play "woman" without any parts. You need arms to knit an afghan and in that sense, I needed breasts to make me a "woman." It was extremely important to me psychologically to have those implants put in so that I FELT more like a woman. And you know what, it DID help me feel like a woman. Thankfully, the doctors wrote to the insurance company and said it was medically necessary to have them put in, which is was. I had taken estrogen while in seventh grade but had too many side effects so discontinued it, therefore having no other alternative to developing breasts. You should have seen the stares and heard the comments from friends I worked with when I returned with my new set of boobs! It was simply enjoyable for me. I was quite embarrassed, though, that my father insisted on tagging along when I had my implants put in, but that was just one my many inabilities to deal with my intersexuality from within myself, and it wasn't fair of me to exclude caring people from helping me because I couldn't deal with it. Funny how I seemed to be able to describe my body so clinically to friends, yet couldn't dare to breath a word of it to anyone in my own family. I feel ashamed now how I treated my own parents and all they did was try to help me. About a month after the implants I finally had my last surgery, which was to remove the ambiguous genitalia and create the labia from the extra skin of the genitalia that I had. However, years later even the surgeon who did the surgery said "I'm disappointed that it didn't turn out like I had hoped." Gee am I!!! As a result of having my urethra rerouted during the last surgery, I had urethral strictures. After about six or eight day surgery procedures to dilate it, I finally gave up my game of trying to avoid having to dilate it myself. For several years after the surgery, I tried to pretend that I was not an intersexual, and that I had no problems. But having to go to the hospital and have the urethra dilated threw a wrench in the pretend game, and I didn't want to acknowledge it, so I had other people take out it, time and again. Finally, I realized that this game of wrench grabbing would continue until I admitted to myself, that yes, I am an intersexual, and have had corrective surgery, and I must take positive control of my life, and dilate this damn thing myself! I haven't had to have one day surgery procedure to dilate it since I started several years ago. I'll never forget the time I had a urethral stricture when my regular urologist was out of town. I was met at the emergency room by one of his partner's, an older urologist just a few years away from retiring. Both he and the nurse were so "excited" to have a hermaphrodite in their midst, that they rudely and totally unprofessionally talked about me and the percentages of hermaphrodites (rare-but more common than you think), that by the time I got home and called my parents (I was in college at the time and living on campus, although in the same city as my folks), I was so upset I literally couldn't speak through the sobs and wails of my emotion.

I remember when I had some friends from my church come to visit me during my first surgery. They were absolutely wonderful to me!! They prayed with me before I left for the surgery, came a long way to see me during it, and prayed and helped me get through my emotions and feelings after the surgery. So many people knew, yet they all LOVED me, accepted me, and even encouraged me to date, and be excited about may be getting married someday. These were truly God's people, and I was accepted not only by God, but by his people, too!! Amazing!! Even to this day some of these folks are my dearest friends, and have helped me countless times during the fourteen years since my first corrective surgery. Two months following the last surgery, I began working part-time and attending junior college full-time. Still no dates, but I was much more relaxed, had much more fun, and really enjoyed being back in school. However, I was completely anorexic, realizing now that was the only control I had in my life. Up until that time, and even for years later, I had no control over my body or my circumstances. But then again, who does? We must all learn to establish positive control, not negative, something I am guilty of time and time again, even to this day.

After a year of junior college my folks moved to the coast of Texas, a literal world apart from Wisconsin. Even though it was a total culture shock, weather shock, and scenery shock, it was one of the BEST things to ever happen to me. I can't tell you how much FUN I had that first year in school. I was an instant hit with the south Texans; they loved my Yankee accent, Midwest mannerisms, and chalk-white skin. Finally I had arrived at a place where no one knew I was intersexed unless I chose to tell them, and I had no unpleasant memories of doctors, hospitals and surgeries to haunt me as I drove through the area. But by now I was definitely looking like a woman, and a thin one, and in south Texas that means you can have fun at the beach, lay out in a bikini, and enjoy the boys and let the boys enjoy you!! Although I had always thought I would wait until marriage to have sex, I was suddenly spinning out of control on my road to understanding myself. With my new body, and my new self-image and attitude, and my interest in men, I went wild! I had absolutely no problem attracting men my way, but I was still a scared little girl inside, frightened to show my self-doubt about my own femininity, let alone my genitals! So in essence, dating was still out of the question because I had gotten to know so many kids at the school, that I was afraid if I shared my intersexuality with anyone, especially intimately, the secret would be out and I would be the brunt of everyone's joke again. So, I developed a complex, risky, thrilling, fun and dangerous game of playing mistress to married men. I honestly don't know how many of them I bedded down, but it was quite a few, I'm ashamed to admit now. I had an affair with my first one for over three years. We were basically friends, and the relationship was on/off constantly, but in some ways he really helped me to accept myself, and in some ways he really damaged me. My first sexual attempt at intercourse though, was with my cousin's friend, all of whom had come from my home state to work on a graduate degree at the four year university I had transferred to after my first year at junior college in Texas. He was from Lebanon, and although very attractive, was typically middle eastern towards women. Needless to say, it was an awkward experience, one I prefer to forget, but one in which I went home feeling like a "woman" for the FIRST time in my life!

After that I transferred back to the Texas coast and finished school at the local university. Although I still didn't date regularly, I had many affairs with either married men, or much older men. This was both good and bad for me. It was good because it reinforced my desire to be viewed, loved, and accepted as a woman, and it was bad for the obvious reasons one shouldn't have affairs with married, or much older men! Usually the married men were much older. Any attempt to date men in my own age group ended abruptly and uncomfortably. Looking back at it now, I realize that I was so afraid of being rejected by men because of my genitals or inability to have children, that I preferred married men because they couldn't make a commitment. The last thing I needed in my life was to fall in love with a man, only to be rejected after all I'd been through, especially if it was because of my genitals. This was a much easier way out! But it was painful to be on the sidelines, a pain I must have been willing to endure in exchange for the fleeting comfort and love of an already attached man. One of the most positive and most risky and scary things I have ever done, was to pose as a nude model for the art classes at the university I was attending. Because I was always trying to validate my femininity, I had posed nude for a neighbor across the street. I showed the photos to an art instructor friend at the university, and he asked if I would be interested in modeling for the art classes. I was, and I did, and I ended up LOVING it! I got more compliments, more interest from men, and more self- confidence than I had ever thought I could get. It was important for me to see that I was accepted as a real woman, viewed as a real woman, and that I could pass for a real woman, butt naked and all! Of course, certain poses that would have revealed my genital area were not permitted and that never "posed" a threat to my fledgling nude modeling career. I also posed for a male artist who made two nude sculptures of me. Having the statues made really reinforced my femininity to me, and eventually even my parents thought it was pretty neat. The two plus years I spent nude modeling did more for me than a life-time of psychotherapy could have ever done!

After I graduated from college with a B.S. in biology, I headed up to Alaska to work as a foreign fisheries observer. I loved the scenery, the pay, and the cultures I was put into. I worked aboard a Korean and a Japanese boat. Then I was placed aboard my first American boat, the "boat from hell with Satan as the captain" I call it. I made one friend on the boat, a man from a nearby town to where we had moved in Texas. We had a sexual relationship, the best one I have ever had. Not only did this man make me feel like a woman, he treated me as such. He was also married. No surprise there! Unfortunately, I got raped on this boat by the first mate. That experience further pushed me spinning out of control on my road to understanding myself. While the story in itself could constitute a book, I shall only address it in a shallow manner here. The men on the boat sexually harassed me continually from day one on the vessel and then I was raped, and then I began to feel my life was threatened. Suffice it to say, it was not the good ship lollypop! I spent four years in litigation against the woman who owned the vessel, all of which participated fully in spinning me out of control. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) spent four years pursuing my case and found a determination against the company for sexual harassment. They settled out of court for a nominal amount. The FBI and the US attorney's office in Anchorage spent almost two years on the sexual assault case, but declined to prosecute. That period of four years following my disembarkment of the vessel was undoubtedly the worst four years in my life. Had it not been for the many friends from my church, college, and work, my work as a research assistant for a wonderful, sympathetic surgeon, the support of my family and psychiatrist and attorney, and my FAITH IN GOD, I NEVER would have survived. You see, the rapist told everyone on the ship I had been born with no vagina! He knew of course, because I told him so before the assault, hoping this would stop the brutal attack. It did not. This betrayal accelerated my speeding out of control on my road to understanding myself, and steered me right into the largest obstacle on my journey; myself.

Several months after the boat from hell, I was back in Texas working as an observer out of another coastal town. I went offshore for a while but was continually finding it more difficult to do so with my ailing aorta valve. I found work as a research assistant in a large medical university in the town, and was happy to be back on firma terra once again. Shortly after starting my new job, I had my fourth, and hopefully final, heart surgery. Without the help of friends who came to cheer me up, and family to take care of me afterwards, I would have literally gone insane. Once again, I had no control over my body or my circumstances. I had been involved in litigation with the government on my behalf, against the fishing company for a year. It was an uncomfortable time to have another heart surgery. A year later I was a month away from visiting with the FBI and US Attorney in Anchorage, Alaska, when I made my first suicide attempt with a loaded gun. I believe my guardian angel appeared to me, or some Heavenly apparition, which didn't speak, but calmed me down enough to call for help. This wouldn't be the first or the last time GOD rescued my butt from my own destruction. I ended up in the nut farm of a local hospital for three days. I had been given a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication by the psychiatrist because I was having flashbacks of the assault. So when I went to Alaska I had my pills with me, and unfortunately, took a handful with three glasses of wine on the airplane from Anchorage to Seattle, after my visit with the lawmen in Anchorage. Luckily, I once again survived, by the Grace of GOD, I'm sure! The psychiatrist wasn't willing to see me again, so I didn't have therapy for another year. When I finally did, it was with a very professional, caring, and intelligent man. He had worked with hermaphroditic children as a board certified pediatric endocrinologist, and was now a board certified psychiatrist. He was just what the DOCTOR ordered; very well versed with intersex conditions, yet gentle and caring and genuinely interested in helping me deal with my intersexuality. Through him I learned a great deal about my condition and myself. During my therapy with him my lawsuit settled, almost exactly four years to the day I got off of the boat. Although the great stress of having to go to trial was now off, I was vastly disappointed and left feeling unfulfilled and empty from the bargaining table. After all, during my deposition six months earlier, the defense attorney sat across from me and asked, "did you have a penis?" How does one deal with a question like that? I'm not sure, but I know it haunted me for many months after the case settled. I think deep down I buried it and it kept trying to force itself back up and confront me face on. This nasty little demon hurled me further into my out of control spin into self destruction. Promptly on settlement, I went crazy and dyed my hair pink and purple, got three tattoos, and made a real fool of myself at an airport where I almost got arrested for saying I was going to kill myself and blow the plane up. Once again, GOD rescued me from own self destruction. Had he not, I might be sitting in federal prison at this very moment! Several months later, at my thirtieth birthday party, I tried another foolish act; downed a bottleful of extremely lethal antidepressants with alcohol. Never mind the fifty or so people that there were, I was completely feeling alone and isolated, as if I was the only soul on an entire planet. That is a feeling I do not wish on my worst enemy. At least I had the sense to tell my friends who had just graduated nursing school what I had done, and they rushed me to the emergency room just in time. I passed out shortly after arriving, and woke up the next day on oxygen, and scared to death, literally. Once again, GOD rescued my butt!! But boy was my psychiatrist upset with me! And I don't blame him! For the FIRST time in my life, I honestly was GLAD to be alive, GLAD that I didn't succeed in killing myself.

In retrospect, I think one of my biggest downfalls was escaping into alcohol's incoherent seduction. It was not an enjoyable seduction, and there was nothing clear-cut about it, other than I wanted to forget my problems, and alcohol allowed me to feel "nothing." Combining alcohol with presecription and or over the counter pills, really made me mellow enough to start imagining I was a "normal" person, although when the effect wore off, I was always stuck with the "the original ME" again! For too many years I lived this way, especially during the four years of litigation. But now I realize what and why I did what I did, and now I can have an ocassional drink without going "overboard." It's really amazing how I can drink responsibly now that I've come face-to-face with my many demons. They no longer get submerged in alcohol, only to become more fierce with each attempted drowning. Now that they have been dealt with properly, I am no longer thirsty to drown them.

That was a little over two years ago. About two months after that last suicide attempt I moved to another state where I am working with another surgeon. I am still doing some research, but have broadened my skills to creating a web site on the internet. Earlier this year I told my current boss about my intersexuality. Of course being a doctor and a six year friend, he was very supportive! The reason I told him was because I had done a taping for the Jerry Springer Show and wanted him to know about it from me, instead of hearing about it from someone else who might make fun of me. The show that I did, along with another intersexed person, and a mother of an intersexed person, was done very professionally and tastefully. My mother was also on with me. It was not only liberating to the tell the whole world my big, dark secret, but it was also liberating to finally admit to myself, that YES, I am an INTERSEXUAL!!!

Then I really noticed that I was no longer spinning out of control on my road to understanding myself. Actually, I was no longer flying fast at all down the road, as a matter of fact, I was actually walking much slower now, even stopping occasionally to sniff a flower or two, or watch a sunset, or stand long enough to smell the scent of spring in the air. I was finally on the way to completing my journey in a proper way, a way in which I would encourage other intersexuals to walk me with so that I could listen to them, point them in the right direction, and give them a hug and a kiss and some encouragement, and send them off with a positive attitude, and a feeling that they aren't the only one's born this way. My creature from the swamp image had changed somewhere on the last two years of my road to understanding myself. It hadn't been the result of one thing that changed me, that allowed myself to accept who I was, and how I looked, but rather, it was a combination of many things, namely all of the faces I saw along the roadside. Some were mere acquaintances, some were close friends or family, some were doctors, some were lawyers, some were people I worked with or for, and some were put there just to HELP me, to teach me, to show me, to guide me, to love me, to accept me for who I was. One in particular was always there, one who had GREAT LOVE, great patience, great acceptance, great wisdom and guidance; that one was GOD!

Now I am involved with ISNA and H.E.L.P., both intersexual support groups. I have finally found a place I can call HOME, a place I can stop at along my journey when I am weak, tired, and weary. I have a place I can rest, then rejuvenate and continue on my journey. As I walk on my road to understanding myself, I can reflect on my past footsteps and see how far I've come, and I can see how far I'd wandered off the road into hazardous areas, but then I also see how GOD led me back to the road, a little scratched and bruised, may be even broken at times, but I really prefer to set my eyes on the road ahead so that I can steer myself straight, and avoid the obstacles that hurl into my path as I take one step forward with a positive attitude, a smile on my face, and sense of relief that my journey has opened up a new road to understanding myself.

May the peace and blessing of GOD be upon all of you, and especially the soul's of the intersexuals who are not only very special, but very LOVED!