I am just an XXY/Intersex kind of guy. It’s true. I have a tee shirt and photos to prove it. I marched in the Pride parade. I came out.Thus, it must be so.
So what is an XXY/Intersex kind of guy? It’s a person that looks like a man. Maybe a little taller than normal, maybe smaller hands than normal, maybe bad teeth, maybe a killer smile. Truth is, so little research has been performed in America on us XXY types that very few folks even know we exist. We do. 1 in every 500 male births is my genetic brother. Never a sister. I have something intimately in common with 1 in 500 males born anywhere in the world of any nationality, skin color, gender identity or economic class.
But. Apparently, as in every other small minority group that flies under the radar of folks’ awareness, nobody knows of our existence unless they are one of us, or related to one of us, or who marries one of us. As for me, I found out when I became concerned about a lump in my breast. “Its either you smoke to much weed, you have pituitary cancer, or its this new thing called Klinefelter’s syndrome,” the doc said. I was hoping it was too much weed instead of too little Testosterone. But, it was nice knowing there was a name for my experience of being different.
Yes! There is something measurably different about me – I don’t have to keep beating myself up thinking I am just weird, just stupid, just don’t get it!
Only, I didn’t really get anything about having an extra X chromosome or what that could possibly mean. I read up on what I had. It wasn’t promising. Most of my kind were most readily found in prison – doing time for stuff like murder, or assault with a deadly weapon. Violent, senseless crimes. Nothing imaginative or cool like white collar bank fraud or computer crimes. Nothing that might require some brains and not just blind flailing out. After reading what sort of prognosis, and diagnosis I had, I decided the less said about this thing called Klinefelter’s the better. Don’t tell. Became my go to response. Don’t tell doctors, don’t tell employers, don’t tell family, don’t tell friends – only tell the wife cuz she needs to know that the guy she married might not actually be a guy in the strict sense of the word.
I went through a second puberty when the doctor told me the only treatment for what I had was to put me on Testosterone and shoot me up twice a month to give me what the experts said my body needs. I had no clue what shooting up Testosterone would do – and neither did they. In retrospect looking back on all my “troubled years” where I was shopping for a new and better therapist nearly every other week and no one – no one. Not me. Not my very bright partner. Not any shrink I ever say thought for a second that maybe what was “wrong” with me was that I wasn’t a typical guy and I was shooting up massive amounts of hormones that very few people understood. No one told me.
No one told me that in addition to gaining weight and a mustache that my thoughts would become predatory, patriarchial, competitive and hypermasculinized one day and hyper sexualized the next day and then depressed, sad, and full of self doubt and self blame and oh yeah lots and lots of shame. No one told me that for some folks with XXY that Testosterone might not be the ticket. That for some testosterone creates a fluid gender – one day I’m wondering what it would be like to be a woman and the next day I am shameful and guilty and all angry-fied towards myself and wanting to rid myself of any and every thought about……..about what if I am in the wrong body? What if – what if I’d never agreed to take Testosterone? What if I’d just laughed off my swollen boob and smoked more pot?
Thirty six out of sixty eight years lived knowing I have an extra X chromosome. Knowing no one knows what that is – what that means – Knowing there are differences between me and all the guys that are XY males – like God said, ya know. God made humans male or female but then I ask well what version of God made me. Oh maybe its the rainbow God!
It’s been a long road moving from a shame filled and shame based way of looking at myself to a place where I feel able to embrace my extra X and all the gifts it brings along with all the eccentricities and quirks that come along with the territory too. Like not so good short term memory, like not being able to retrieve critical data from all the many sources at my very right brained disposal to draw upon and instead flipping out or giving some flipped out “off the rails” response. It’s been a long road from self loathing to self acceptance and from seeing my extra X as a maker of weakness and inferiority to a marker for uniqueness and talents untapped and unexplored and I’ve made a lot of progress so much that when my best buddy suggested I should wear an XXY/Intersex kind of guy” tee shirt in the parade, and she would wear one that says “lesbian friend of an XXY/Intersex kind of guy,” it felt right. Her suggestion that Karen, my partner of 36 years march with a shirt saying: “Partner of an XXY/Intersex kind of guy,” felt so loving, and supportive and such a grand gesture of friendship and acceptance that I said YES without any further thought. Then the day of the parade grew closer.
Two weeks out it hit me that not only was I publicly declaring myself to be an XXY/Intersex person, but that I was doing it in the most open way possible by declaring my identity to everyone in my town who might be watching, including announcing my identity to the all the folks comprising the rainbow tribe. I’d check in when it hit me, and it continued to feel right. I never felt regret or remorse for taking my lesbian friend up on her offer to march by my side. The day of the parade, aside from having a raging anxiety toothache (another entry – maybe) I felt clean and clear and ready to come out.
We came out. Me, as the rare “I” within the GLBTQ and sometimes “I” continuum and as an ally to my Asian-American partner and ally to lesbians. I came out announcing support for the human right to be free to love those we are drawn too, and free to express our love in ways that are authentic to who we are as human beings. I came out. It was good. It was the right move. And now, I have more freedom to move about in this genetically unusual bodily form and more freedom to explore expressing parts of this self that I have cast off and have shoved into the dark closet of the shadow. Freedom to welcome home and love these estranged parts of myself that once were sources of shame to be hidden but now appear to be beautiful and endearing parts of myself that have too long been missing.
No. I am not planning to turn my penis into a vagina, grow boobs, my hair, or take Estrogen. No one that knows me will notice anything much different about me. I’m still cis gender and still would claim to belong to the hetersexual camp if I was to become sexual again. But now and then you might see a glimmer of the wise woman or the playful little girl inside of me along with the wise man and the innocent little boy.