As a person born intersex, October, 2014, I desperately needed to reclaim my true gender. It was for health, mental and spiritual reasons. It had become life or death for me at this point. To get help, I had to seek out a transgender doctor, because no other doctor would go against my assigned gender at birth. Even after sharing my history of having intersex traits (what the medical world often calls a disorder of sexual development or DSD), it made no difference. Most, where I live consider the change of one’s gender “taboo medicine”. Let me share about the illusion of “normal” when the majority refers to my gender and compares me to this binary standard of typical female or typical male.
To get insurance to cover my treatment, and to get a reproductive endocrinologist to help me, I was told I had to first go through a psychiatric evaluation to prove my gender. Imagine this, for one minute, if you are certain you are the gender you claim you are.
I was then told that I had to be diagnosed with “Gender Dysphoria” to be able to get Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), because I was going against my assigned gender at birth. Even after sharing I was born with intersex traits, assigned female in error, and had to be taught at three and four that I was female. All this made no difference, they were following the outlined protocol.
Below I share the DSM 5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, the official source of definitions related to mental illness), and what is said about “Gender Dysphoria“:
“For a person to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, there must be a marked difference between the individual’s expressed/experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, and it must continue for at least six months.”
This diagnosis is a revision of DSM-IV’s criteria for gender identity disorder and is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults…..
Characteristics of the Condition
For a person to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, there must be a marked difference between the individual’s expressed/experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, and it must continue for at least six months. In children, the desire to be of the other gender must be present and verbalized. This condition causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning…..
Well, here was the problem: Professionals (others) assigned me as female at birth, when I was not female. Bottom line, I was assigned the wrong gender due to not having a “normal”, and typical cisgender penis, and also due to having a vagina.
Where I live, to get help, to reclaim myself, I had no choice but to go to a psychiatrist to prove I was truly of the male gender. When I did this, the stress to act and dress in a stereotypical male way was very high. My life depended on getting this help, and here I was proving I was a guy. At three and four year old, I did not pass their test. This time, out of the grace of God, and at forty-six years old, my psychiatrist proved me finally sane, and I was finally declared a boy! HOORAY! But now I was labeled as having “gender dysphoria”.
Anyone, in my state that is going against their assigned gender at birth, has to do this if they are seeking hormones, or surgery to align their body with what the binary declares a typical male or female. It doesn’t matter if they were born with intersex traits, or not. Most who do this are called transgender.
Here is the problem for me with this diagnosis of “gender dysphoria”:
- First of all, living as a female I had “dysphoria”, and it was all my life. It was not just six months either. As much as this binary world wants to try to convince me, I do not have gender dysphoria living as a non-binary male. The fact that my genitals do not match what is typical as a cisgender male, does not mean I am unhappy either. Like most would like you to assume, I was not born in the wrong body, and I do not want any surgery of any kind.
- Second, with the right sex hormones, I love my body now, and I feel at home in my body. I would now call what I have as a case of “GENDER EUPHORIA!” But yet, to get my hormones, to this day, my doctors have to say “dysphoria”. This way medical insurance will pay for it, and my doctor can follow the rules.
- Next, I never “transitioned” from one gender to the other, because I was never of the female gender to begin with. Some transgender people may use the word “transitioned”, but for me it simply is not my truth. I simply am allowing my body to reclaim my true gender, and to appear the gender I always was. This is done by allowing my body to go through adolescence, with added testosterone. I am now simply developing the secondary sex traits of any typical adult male.
Further, most do not realize this, but in a developing fetus the same spot develops into either a clitoris or a penis. As you now know, with some humans like me, the development of the body is intersex. Below I share a diagram of my form of intersex. All these pictures are of a 46 XX, Intersex Person, whose body has undergone virilization. Not all identify as the female gender either. The size of the clitoris, phalloclitoris, microphallus, or penis, the presence of a vagina, or the discovery of two X chromosomes, does not declare gender.
[The above diagram is of the Prader Scale, (also called Prader Staging). It was developed by Dr. Andrea Prader as a basic method to rate the ‘degree of virilisation’ of human genitals. It is used primarily to determine the genitals in cases of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH).]
Last, I would like to say this:
No, I do not have a mental condition, simply because my body does not agree with some doctor’s opinion of what “normal” is. Just because my genitals are not typical for a cisgender male, does not mean anyone should have had the right to tell me I am female or male. Simply said: Gender will never be in one’s genitals ever, and it is a human right to have the self-determination of one’s own gender. I have since legally changed my gender to male, but to this day, to the medical and psychiatric world, I am diagnosed as “gender dysphoria”, and as having a “disorder of sexual development” (DSD). I do not agree, but what choice do I have? It is my hope that my story gives clarity to how broken this gender system is and it changes soon. I am a non-binary intersex man. I do not have gender dysphoria. I live in a world that has culture dysphoria.
Here are two related blogs, I wrote, that go with this one: I am an Intersex Person. I Never Felt Like a Cisgender Person and I Relate to Some Transgender Men and My Body is Not Abnormal. Please Don’t Call me Broken.
Here is a blog by Hida Viloria (an intersex person): What’s in a Name: Intersex and Identity
Here is a helpful article: Intersexed: CAH and the Prader Scale By Novel Activist.