Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Trigger Me Intersex

I’ve talked about the surgery that I underwent when I was three a few times. I usually don’t bring it up because it can trigger too many things. To recap, and this is from my mom’s recollection since my medical records from back then are long gone, I had surgery when I was three that was purportedly to resolve an undescended testicle. It turned out that the surgeons removed something instead. They told my mom that they removed “a mass.” I still have that scar. I remember being in the hospital; I remember riding around in the little wheelchair/cart that they gave me after the surgery (these are some of my very earliest memories).

I’m very happy with my life now, and I do think it’s important to point that out.

I also should mention that I am 100% opposed to non-emergency or essential surgeries done on babies and children before they have reached the age of consent. Yes, that includes circumcisions. Leave babies alone. Stop trying to “fix” people!

Anyway…

It’s probable that I had an under-developed testicle and that removing it was the proper medical decision. Externally I had arguably normal male genitalia; I had a very small penis and one testicle. But who knows what was going on internally. It’s possible that I had some form of intersex condition. Sometimes I wonder if what was removed from me when I was three was more akin to an ovotestis. Every once in a while I let myself imagine that what was taken from me was a healthy ovary. With eggs.

But I’ll never know. It’s probably just as well that I’ll never know. Considering the possibility, no matter how remote, that I may have had eggs that were stolen from me sends me into some pretty dark emotional territory.

Usually it’s easier for me to just see myself as a plain old transsexual. Considering any of this stuff makes me feel an extreme loss of agency, autonomy, and self-determination. Intersex conditions are so varied and so understudied that it isn’t easy to just say one way or the other. I’ve heard the fairly common condition of undescended testicles referred to as “ambiguous genitalia,” for example. There was a time when I wished that I was intersex, but that was when I was struggling with self-acceptance and felt that a tangible biological cause for my feelings of being in the wrong body would help to explain things, if even only to myself. It gradually became a moot point for me as I let go and stopped caring about the ~why~ that I am the person that I am.

But every once in a while something will trigger a thought and I’ll start to wonder if I was, in fact, robbed of something special and irreplaceable.

Anyone who reads my blog or knows me knows that lately I’ve been struggling with my infertility. It comes and goes. It’s the heaviest cross I have to bear. And when I struggle with infertility my mind almost invariably wanders to that long-ago surgery.

And I usually tune it out, and tell myself I’m being silly, and that the odds of it having been a healthy ovary that was taken from me are vanishingly small. So small as to be not worth consideration. And I content myself with the hope that someday I will find a child who needs a mommy as much as my heart needs them, and we will be a family.

And then I read something like this:

http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2010/02/letter-from-mitaliano.html

Which contains these links:

***Fertile individuals who have fathered children can have a uterus.***

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/oup/humupd/2005/00000011/00000004/art00351

***A fertile individual who has fathered two children can have an ovary with follicles and devloping ova. This individual also has a Fallopian tube and a uterus.***

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4532534?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=49

***A fertile individual who fathered a child and also had an ovary with ovarian follicles and evidence that ovulation also occured. It is the first case where cytogenetics and not just a buccal smear was used***

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7200380?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=18

And then I’m forced to wonder yet again just what, ~exactly~, was taken from me without my consent when I was three.

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8 Comments»

  Corrvin wrote @

I had something semi-thoughtful to say here, but you made me cry by the time I was done reading.

I wish I could do something, I’d totally give you both my ovaries and my Crashin’ Thrashin’ uterus and you could put up with it and we’d both be happy. Sigh.

  pickypenelope wrote @

Corry, even though I’ve only met you in person twice, you continue to prove to me what a deep and understanding friend you are.

And, like you, ~sigh~.

(Sorry I made you cry.)

  Amanda wrote @

My dear…. I’m so sorry. 😦

Having given a child up for adoption when I was young, I can say first-hand how IMMENSELY important it is for really good loving people to adopt. Not only because it makes birth mothers like me feel better about their decision, but so those children have a fair chance to have the wonderful loving parent they deserve. I hope you will find that perfect little love to cuddle and share life with, and that you will feel fulfilled. (((((hugs)))))

  Judy wrote @

Ahh, my Penny…. I love you. I’m sorry. And i truly wish i were healthy… You are in my thoughts and prayers!

  Priscilla wrote @

I offer sisterly solidarity from a ciswoman who, for a bouquet of reasons (medical, emotional, financial, etc.), never could or did bear a child. Around the time my sister gave birth to my niece, I went through a very painful time in which I felt the intensity of my desire to physically mother. Since then it comes and goes, but rarely as piercing as it was in those months.

I suspect your experience of this loss will also come and go, ebb and flow. In any event, you’re not alone.

  pickypenelope wrote @

Not being alone helps ~greatly~. One of the first ways that I felt myself belonging in the sisterhood of women was when I started connecting with other women about their own infertility or struggles to conceive. Thank God for the people who help me shoulder this cross…

  miss kitten wrote @

my husband was not born with testicles. he had “part” of one testicle, and that was undescended. so at age 4, he had surgery to correct that, and they found it was not working. he’s been on hormone therapy since puberty. (he’s 51 now)

his sister grew up thinking they had castrated him, from hearing partial conversations. she thought that till last year, when she told me that, and i had to explain it to her. she’s 42.

and she had a hysterectomy when she was 19 so she cannot have any bio kids either.

*hugs you* no,surgeries to “fix” a child might not always be correct. i agree with you there.

and i think you would be a good mom.

  Barbara and Frank wrote @

I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Please do not dwell on the past. Moving forward, thinking about a child you wants, needs and should have the love you can give, should be paramount. You will never believe the feeling, can you start to move on this journey now?


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