Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

About Christen

I want to take a moment to tell you a little about myself, who I am, and this amazing journey which each of share called ‘life’. I’ve had the opportunity, over more than four decades of life, to be able to fully realize who I am and, more recently, why I am who I am. It has predominantly been through the love of my  spouse, that I have been able to arrive at this point of comfort in my own sense of self. She has been instrumental in teaching me that we are all human beings first and foremost. I have come to realize and appreciate that it is one’s love and caring, one’s compassion and one’s wisdom which are the true aspects which define us as who we are as people, and not our gender.

Arriving here at this point in my life has not been an easy course. I knew from my earliest memories as a small child that I felt different from the other boys. I didn’t have the words back then to relate the difference, nor could I see that how I felt that I saw myself was very different from that of most boys.

As a young child of age 4 and 5, I would often be complemented by strangers as being a cute little girl. It was my large head of curly hair that my mother rather liked about me that caused the confusion and she would correct them quickly by retorting, “Oh no, he’s a boy!”. I distinctly recall feeling saddened over this reality shock but couldn’t evoke in words as to why I felt that way.

Growing up, I always felt more comfortable in socializing with the little girls in school. I found their manner of play and of conversation on par with my own. We were able to talk about all the things that girls like to talk to about and we were able to connect on a very social level and in play in a way that boys could and generally did not. Around age eight, my best friend from next door, Susan, would often come over the house and we would engage in such things as pretending to be cosmetologists and mix together various cosmetics we found at home in order to create something new.

I didn’t realize nor did I see that any of the increasing number of signs which were developmentally variant from those of other boys but I do recall that as the girls grew up and began to separate socially from the boys, that I became very sad, alone and distraught. My response and recourse to this was my own self immersion in my studies. I became fascinated with many areas of science and read books from the library profusely as a means of escape. By the sixth grade, I was well versed in first year college studies in meteorology, geology and astronomy. I was routinely stopped by the high school kids as I rode my bike past the high school and asked if I could help them with their math homework.

One area, however, held special meaning for me and that was the realm of science fiction. It was in this realm that possibilities existed. Here were worlds where it didn’t matter if you had pointy ears and came from Planet Vulcan on Star Trek, or if you were of a different race, color or gender. You could be respected for being different and for who you were inside. As a child, I held great respect for the character of Mr. Spock on the Starship Enterprise. Being half Vulcan and half human meant that he didn’t quite ever fit in with either his Vulcan home world or with the humans with which he served. I had great respect for his ability to try to use logic to try to solve this and any issue which would arise to deal with the multitude of issues which arose. Here was someone who was respected for being the person he was inside ahead of how he presented as being different on the outside.

In the same way, I was dealing with my feelings of being female inside but knowing I was born as male on the outside. The feelings were not quantifiable and I argued with myself for decades that they were therefore illogical and tried to dismiss them but was only left feeling ashamed and alone inside.

It has been only within these recent years that I have come to face what I had hidden for forty odd years by undergoing separate evaluations by a series of professionally trained therapists cognizant in these issues. What I have come to understand through their help and through my interaction with medical doctors is that I am transgender and additionally, born born physically and mentally with an intersex condition.

We can think of how we define ourselves on three distinct levels. Biological sex, sexual identity and gender identity. Each category on each level is not binary, which means that we always don’t fall into totally male or totally female at all times meaning that there is a range between the two. In biological sex, there is male or female, but there are also individuals born who have physical or chromosomal birth defects which give a child, aspects of both male and female sexes. Those born in such a way are noted to be "intersex". Sexual identity describes who we see ourselves with in a relationship, whether it be a man or a woman, or, since this is also not a binary category it can, just as often be neither (non-sexual or asexual) or both (bi-sexual). Gender identity is even less tangible. It describes who we see ourselves as deep inside. Unlike physical variances which are easy to spot at birth, gender variances become apparent only as the child grows and learns to quantify the differences between the genders. Eventually, they become aware that they do not appear to match what they feel inside with who they are physically are on the outside.  Most often, children will try to hide this for much of their lives thus creating much internal stress. This is the realm of what we call, being transgender.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is a medical condition characterized by an intense and persistent identification opposite to the genital sex to which one was born into. People who have been diagnosed with this condition are termed as Transgender. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes being transgender as: Of, relating to, or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person's sex at birth

Although each person may arrive at this diagnosis because of differing causes, in my own case, I was very fortunate to learn the likely reasons as to why I developed this way. It was not until this past year that I learned from my sister that my mother had taken a drug known as DES before and during her pregnancy with me. I had read many stories and seen much correlative evidence of developmental issues prenataly in boys when mothers took this drug. As it was a concentrated form of estrogen, it had profound effects both physically and mentally on my male development and it’s measurable effects helped solidify the variance I had felt internally all my life and had fought for years inside. As a result of my mother’s intake of this drug, key areas, both physically and mentally, did not masculinize properly.  Doctors seemed quizzical regarding this developmental anomaly but never had much to say or offer even though they were often surprised.

I am so much happier today, to be able to express as the person I feel I am inside and to have the opportunity to be able to socialize as any female would with the world today. I have been fortunate to find my own cause and effect and my reason for being and am much more at peace with myself to be able to socialize in a way which I have found through my experiences, apparently aligns perfectly within the female gender.  We live in a world, however, that is not fully cognizant of this condition and so I am here today to try to set a positive example that being transgender makes me no less of a person than anyone else. I thank my friends and the many people I have met in my journey of life, who are willing to accept me as an intelligent, compassionate and empathetic human being, a person, who just happens to have grown up experiencing the gift and perspective of living a life in two genders.  In the process, I've gained a great respect for both the male and female worlds which only can be realized truly from having walked in the shoes and seen the perspectives, the biases, the advantages and the prejudices as well as the comraderies, and kinships which exist specifically in the male world and specifically in the female world.  It has actually been quite a unique gift really and one I am now, finally after so many years, now very thankful to have.

The American Psychological Association has put together a "Transgender 101" primer to help describe what being transgender is and how gender and sex can... and do differ and you may, in just a few moments of time, learn much more at:

http://www.apa.org/topics/sexuality/transgender.aspx