Friday, April 15, 2011

Gender Possibilities

Though it's been a while since my last extended update, I've been sharing with you the course of my treatment. Specifically, I was diagnosed with hypogonadism in November. Treatment has taken many twists and turns in nearly nine months' time, and the most recent discovery has left me frustrated and weary. I'm tired of being sick, plainly put, and I want to be well. Though this is embarrassing to admit, as I mentioned briefly earlier in the week, I discovered very recently a lump next to my right testis. My PCP correctly diagnosed it as being caused by Testosterone Replacement Therapy, which has continued steadily since hypogonadism was discovered. Now it is off to the Urologist to determine precisely what it is and is not.

Because the root cause of my condition has still yet to be determined, I've spoken with patients, professionals, and other knowledgeable people to see if I can get some answers myself. One such person e-mailed me yesterday with an amazing story that, if it were true for me, would explain so much about who I am. To preface, she now identifies as female, though for years she considered herself male. She is also intersex.

Some years ago, she noticed the same phenomenon herself. A mysterious lump appeared quickly when she was given high levels of testosterone. Conventional testing didn't reveal much, but on the off-hand chance, she convinced the doctor to try a particular test only rarely used in such circumstances. When the results came back, they were shocking. It wasn't a lump. It was, in fact, an OVARY. For certain intersex individuals (but not all) a diagnosis of hypogonadism and its resulting treatment manifests itself this way. Unfortunately, her ovary contained cancerous cells, which required the organ to be surgically removed along with a lengthy regimen of chemotherapy. She stressed repeatedly that this likely wasn't going to be the case for me. But it's still worth checking out and a little concerning, too.

I'm going to resist the temptation to read too much into this. A part of me would love this to be true, minus, of course, the cancer. It would be medical confirmation of why I am genderqueer, which I admit I still very much desire. I recognize I don't need physical proof to know what I am, but I've felt like a complete freak of nature for so long that I crave, for once, an irrefutable, biological answer. I'm more or less generally comfortable with my sexual orientation. But on issues of gender, I'm still the rawest of raw nerves. So much else with my life, regarding health woes, has never been satisfactorily explained by modern medicine. It would be nice to point to something definitive like this and begin to draw some sensible conclusions.

But I wouldn't know how to go about telling other people, except for those most likely to be readers of this site. I'm not sure how my parents would take it. And, more importantly, how would I define myself? At the moment I'm uneasily straddling the male/female divide, allied with both, but devoted singularly to neither. I recognize that there aren't any "rules" with gender identification, but where does one find the balance? I should note that there are so many combinations of conditions that can be classified as being intersex. Yet again, I ask myself the same thing I've done for the whole of my life. Who am I? Who am I, really?

1 comment:

Gail said...

Hi Kevin-

Oh my, I cannot even begin to imagine your frustration and concern and daily self wonders. I will pray for answers for you which will bring you clarity and peace and most of all - self love.
Love to you