This week my interview is with Beth from Louisiana, Thank you very much for taking part and being happy to have your picture as part of the blog post!
What intersex condition do you have?
How old were you when you found out?
I was 22 and married! My mother lied to me at age 14 and told me I’d had a hysterectomy. I woke up from surgery and asked if I’d be able to have kids. She said “No but you’ll never have to have a period.”
My mother didn’t want to lose her daughter so my gender assignment was left as is for I had already accepted it and I was sent home after a gonadectomy and still legally female. Frankly when faced with a physical altercation my knees turn to jelly so I don’t feel masculine at all unless I lose my temper and start breaking and throwing stuff.
The kids at school were circulating rumors that I’d had a brain tumor because I missed so much school that year in 8th grade and I frequently exhibited nervous ticks, possibly from a mild form of Tourettes Syndrome, which I have now outgrown.
How did it affect you at first?
I went home at age 22 to tell my mother that although I was married, I felt I was gay. She said “You’re not gay, you were born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. It’s only normal that you’d be attracted to females.”
BAM! A little too much to take in. All of a sudden I had to learn that ALL my aunts, uncles and grandparents KNEW this about me, which felt humiliating. They would give me these sad looks. So THAT’S why everyone pitied me after age 14! So THAT’s why they whisked me to Houston, Texas, away from my hometown in Louisiana at the suggestion of Moms gynecologist. Mom said it was because everyone would spread it all over town. This made it sound like CAIS was undesirable, of course. This WAS in the mid 70’s after all.
Does it affect you dating?
Yes of course. I was given too much leniency when I started dating in my late teens, probably because they felt like I was some sort of genetic experiment. From the start I could tell something was wrong because I could not accommodate any man of size. My body certainly felt normal to me because I had nothing to compare it to.
I would later learn my vagina is classified as a blind shallow pouch. I never had vaginoplasty surgery or dilation therapy when I was young and I do wish I would have.
When I would explain my golf ball sized situation to prospective lovers, surprisingly they were more concerned with not wanting to injure me and we’d discover our pleasures together. One lover broke my heart because he literally said my vagina felt “like a dead end”.
I resolved myself to only date older men that probably wouldn’t want kids. One very wise online friend informed me “Beth, you’re not giving us a chance. There are a lot of us out there your own age who aren’t concerned about having kids.” I changed my mind and now I’m married to a man my own age. It’s not perfect but it makes a difference to me.”
After my surgery my mother went behind my back and told my boyfriend I couldn’t have kids! He promptly broke up with me. He later turned out to be gay but that was beside the point.
How does it affect you now?
I never really think about it unless I see a Facebook post or get an email about it. I have always had problems finding clothes to fit me. Especially shoes. Size 13EEE didn’t used to be available in ladies shoes. So I’m a jeans and t-shirt with sports shoes kinda dresser. Now I’m a diabetic amputee and wear one diabetic walking shoe for protection of the foot I have left.
What would you say is the best thing about having this condition?
Not being encumbered by a strong libido. This allows my mind to focus on more creative endeavors, like my art. From what I hear, lots of us are artists and musicians.
I see all these people putting so much effort and energy into finding a hook up at clubs and I just don’t get it!
What would you say is the worst thing about having this condition?
I waited for the periods, pubic and axillary hair that never came. My grand mother comforted me by saying she saw a pregnant woman without ANY hair down there. I’ve known since I was 14 that I couldn’t have kids so I just never developed any maternal tendencies and instead became a career woman. I’m Aunt Beth to numerous nieces and nephews and sometimes I’ve had to shuttle kids around to help out. I adored doing this. One niece looks just like me with the same pouty lip. She can pass for my daughter.
Finally, what advice would you give to people who are newly diagnosed?
If you’re struggling with sexuality, I’ve found that if you are able to achieve orgasm with a member of the opposite sex, it’s easier to live as straight instead of gay. But times are finally changing and if you’re in a more liberal area of the world, do what you gotta do.
I believe many women born this way possibly went into the clergy and became nuns at one time. My obesity has almost ruined my life and added to my own androgyny so please control your weight in order to be your most natural shape. I often wonder how CAIS has affected my severe weight gain.
Anything else you want to add?
If my experience can help others I’m willing to hear from them. I’m now in my early 50’s, married, disabled and have little to hide. If I can make a difference, my struggle will have been worth it.
Thank you again Beth for taking part!!
If anyone has any questions about her story please let me know below and I can pass them on!