Womb Man Excerpt


As far back as I can remember, I never considered myself female. Not as a toddler. Not as a child. Not as a teen or as an adult.

From earliest childhood, strangers and relatives would tell me, early and often, “What a cute little girl.” “You’re a smart little girl. What’s your name?”

The compliment I received most as a child was, “What a sparkler! You’re another Shirley Temple!”

I knew for a fact that I wasn’t Shirley Temple! I might be Howdy Doody or Tom Sawyer, but I was definitely not Shirley Temple!

During my childhood and later teenage fantasies, I was Buffalo Bob, Roy Rogers, Mr. Spock, Doctor McCoy—fellows whose aims (in Robert F. Kennedy’s words, “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world") made them worth knowing, following, emulating and loving.

I kept quiet about this, of course. I knew I wasn’t normal in the way normal was defined in the twentieth century. I was pretty sure I was a freak of nature—an anomaly—something I needed to hide. So I did. It was anxiety-provoking, for sure. I developed an ulcer as a teenager.

I didn’t date or create many fond bonds. Had I risked it, someone would have found out and called me one screwed up individual—and nobody considered me screwed up: I was a good student, a proactive hard worker, and a dedicated policy-minded disrupter of normal like my political idol at the time, Bobby Kennedy. I wasn’t about to let the outside world in on my secret self.

My outer appearance is not who I am. Gender is brain-based, not body-based. So calling me a dyke, a lesbian or some other mistaken identifier to suit one’s present binary understanding of gender is doing me no favors. What I believe myself to be is a man in a woman’s body.

The question that continues to stir inside is “Was I intersex at birth and altered to fit into a single gender binary by fearful parents and physicians so I could be raised normally as a girl, or have I always been naturally transgender?” I don’t know. I didn’t learn about intersex or transgender expressions until after both of my parents were long gone, so I couldn’t ask them. And as far as I know, no one kept records of sex assignment surgeries in infants back then. But I’ve read that intersex newborns are fairly common; one infant in 100 is born with ambiguous genitalia. (See the Resources page at the end of this book.) In other words, intersex conditions are just as common as natural red hair; it’s just that people comment frequently on red haired people—and clam up like an Aldebaran Shell Mouth (thank you, Theodore Sturgeon and Dr. McCoy) when it comes to intersex!

You probably know someone right now who’s hiding in plain sight…someone like me.
So I’m coming clean and letting you know I’m here. And the only thing messed up about me—and society until more recently—is that I felt the need to hide this for so long.