These day when my son, Xavier, or I refer to my daughter as Uniball or mention her undescended testicle to her new boyfriends, she laughs along with the rest of us. At the same time, we are amused the the reaction of others to our inside joke. To my daughter, Emily, learning you’re different isn’t always so funny.
In October 2006, Emily left her mother and brother and came to live with me and my immortal beloved, Jaime. Emily was fourteen and was just starting high school. Emily was coming into her own and becoming a young woman. It couldn’t have been easy living with a transsexual father as your only female role model. In moments of self doubt, a young girl may wonder if the same biological conditions that made her father transsexual might also affect her as well.
A fee months later, Emily and I had just left the airport after buying Xavier, who was still living with his mother (devil, devil, devil), a one-way ticket from Oklahoma. Things weren’t going well for him and we hated that he was suffering and apart from us. We often talked about kidnapping him or getting him to Tennessee somehow. It was after leaving the airport that we got a call from Xavier that his mother had changed his mind and he wasn’t allowed to leave.
On the ride back, Emily and started to talk about happier things to get our mind off our disappointment. It was during this discussion that I opened up to Emily about he “deformity” when she was a baby.
Emily was only a few months old. She developed a tender spot on her lower abdomen that we would notice each time we changed her diaper. If we barely grazed this spot she would cry and cry. She was in a lot of pain.
At the time I was stationed at Lowry Air Force base in Denver, CO. One afternoon, we took Emily to Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center. It was a very old building, but large and well staffed. I had been there before for a penile scrape (Oh gawd! That’s one of the worst pains ever!) and was quite impressed with the staff, even if many were interns.
It turns out that many medical students perform their residency requirements in military hospitals. There are a wide range of ailments for which they can hone their diagnostic skills. For all the attention you may get from an intern, their diagnosis can still be fallible. Fortunately, each group of interns was overseen by an experienced military doctor.
Emily was examined thoroughly by several interns. They reported their suspicions to the attending physician. They grimaced when I asked what was wrong with Emily. They really had me worried. However, they kept to themselves and order additional tests. After the last test, an ultrasound, the attending physician came to speak with Toni (devil, devil, devil) and I. They had bad news.
What was wrong? Did she have some congenital disease? Was she ill? Was she going to need surgery?
Accompanied by a counselor, the doctor explained that Emily had an undescended hermaphroditic testicle and it should be removed. He continued that the condition was very rare but they had seen this before. Some hormonal abnormality in the womb had caused Emily to partially develop a male gonad. That it had not dropped into a scrotum was the reason for her discomfort.
Let me pause right there.
At hearing this revelation Emily burst into tears and started wailing. My heart was broken for her. I didn’t know she would take the news this hard. I was so taken back by her outpouring of emotion that I could not address her proclamations of how this explained why she always thought she was different. She lamented that she was part boy and bemoaned that she would never be able to have children.
I tried to speak but I could not. I was laughing too damn hard to calm her. She screamed at me, “Why are you laughing? This is serious!”
Oh did I catch hell for that one. I was trying to spin the story as best I could, but she made me loose it. She didn’t have a testicle. I told the doctor he was full of crap. I took her to another. She had a hernia.
Oh, she’s 100% girl, but to us, she’ll always be our little hermaphrodite.