Every holy birth involves a miracle, it seems. Christ was born of a virgin mother, while the Buddha is said to have emerged from the right side of his mother at birth, neither are of which are considered normal methods for conception or delivery. There was nothing particularly miraculous about my birth: it was conventional.
When my Mother was pregnant with me, she prayed every day for a girl. A girl was everything to her: a boy was inconceivable. What use had she for a boy? Oh sure, other people cherished boy children far more than girl children, but not my Mother. She had no time for all that rubbish. Girls were far better – there was simply no argument.
My Mother had heard of an old wives tale that claimed to predict the sex of the unborn child based on the shape of the food she craved during pregnancy. This knowledge affected her deeply, and she would only eat oranges, cut in half and sprinkled with chocolate, for the duration. She said it was because she liked the jaffa flavour. But I am inclined to believe it was more because the shape and texture of oranges were similar enough to a vagina to assure my Mother that her convictions were correct.
So when I was born, my Mother chose to ignore completely the offensive, protruding appendage of my person, and simply carried on as though I were a girl child. Exactly according to plan.
She dressed me as a girl, taught me the secret ways of women and only bought me girls’ toys to play with. I had no male role models, my Mother’s lover being a woman also. They shunned all their own male relatives and wouldn’t let any person with incorrect appendage through the door of our house, except of course for me, who’s affliction they denied.
Affliction. Curse. Offense. Trouble. The strange little growth between my legs was nothing more than this to me for most of my childhood years. Forced to hide it when in the company of my Mother and her friends, uncomfortable with it’s very presence, it was a source of confusion and annoyance to me. Constantly denying there was any abnormality to me and yet knowing that I wasn’t quite right either. Not truly male: not truly female.
By the time I was 14, it was becoming increasingly difficult to masquerade successfully as a girl. My Mother could deny my appendage all she liked, but she could never deny the faint fuzz of facial hair, the distinct lack of breasts and my embarrassment at the uncontrollable erections I would get at the most inconvenient of times. Going to the toilet became an excruciatingly embarrassing task. Women would look at me strangely if I tried to go to the women’s toilets, as I’d been accustomed to all my life. Men would look at me even more strangely as I had no idea how to pee standing up.
My ascent into adulthood was a strange and difficult one. Women mistook me for female. Men mistook me for gay. I mistook me for a freak. I grew up with a deep rooted fear that I was somehow not a valid person. A fake. An imposter. I feared that people would see through me in conversation, perceive me to be the fake that I tried so hard to pretend not to be and find me repulsive in some way. It was all very slippery, abused, betrayed, confused. Destined to forever be an observer rather than a participant in this life, always afraid of discovery. Not truly male: not truly female. Enforced androgyny.
My name is Dominique.
© Bea Pierce, 2003