Women, on the other hand, would notice immediately the dreadful gulf between normal and me and run the other way. In the days before Prozac and HMOs, recovery from a suicide attempt meant three months in a community mental health center, time I used to resign myself to a meaningless life with a man I couldn't love.Once released, I continued to take my self-loathing to therapy, bedding down with (and eventually marrying) the next guy to come along.At this time, during a routine check of my immunization records for a job I was applying for at a hospital, I obtained some old medical records and learned things my parents and doctors had never intended me to know.
Too numb and shaken to even be embarrassed or shy, I showed her what worked, how much pressure to use, what to touch, what not to touch.Now the numbness below my neck was real—a maze of unfeeling scar tissue.I wandered through that labyrinth for another ten years, with a gender identity and desires born of those medical procedures. At 21 I found myself, a college dropout and a runaway, in bed with an older woman, my second sexual partner and the first naked woman I had ever seen or touched.I don't know how my father felt or feels about it; he has never spoken about it except to reinterpret my mother's feelings.
I quickly came to understand that that tomboy—the gender identity with which I had escaped childhood—was less acceptable in adolescence.Yearly visits to endocrinologists and pediatric urologists, lots of genital poking and prodding, and my mother's unspoken guilt and shame had all served to distance me considerably from my body: I was a walking head.In retrospect, it seems odd that a tomboy should have been so removed from her body.What had been an embarrassingly large clitoris was suddenly revealed to have been a hideously deformed penis, and the possibility of ever being with a woman became even more remote; the wondrous, wonderful identity that had lasted all of a plane flight from LAX to JFK—lesbian—was robbed again, seemingly forever.