Friday, May 1, 2009

René, OII Spokesperson from Belgium, talks about living with Kallman’s

Translated from the French by Curtis E. Hinkle


I can say that I became an adult at seven years old.  When I saw that I looked more like my sister who had just been born than my brother who was four years younger than I was!  Before the birth of my sister, when I was naked, I had noticed there was a difference between my brother and me: he was a standard male at birth.  I could see clearly that there was something not quite right.  But when my sister arrived, I saw that I looked more like her than my brother and at that moment, I was an adult. You become an adult when you start coming to terms with being intersex: a micropenis, what I called my “comma”. 


When I was fourteen years old, in 1967, they had planned an operation for me in Germany to remove the micropenis and to make me a woman.  But I refused.  I saw my future flash before my eyes, myself as a woman, if they cut off “my comma”.  I already had big feet: I could not see myself in high heels and a skirt!  I knew I was a tomboy, but I did not feel like having my “chassis” fixed. I think that I was not mistaken in making this choice.  When I saw the film XXY, it upset me.  It took me back to when I was 15 years old.  It confirmed my choice.  For me to live as a woman would be like having to be in drag all the time.


It wasn’t until 1980 that I started testosterone, i.e. when I was 27, because the year before I had made one my most dangerous suicide attempts by running a car into a stone quarry after taking medication.  During the 70’s I had already attempted suicide around 20 times.  I felt like there was no place for me in society, even if I lived with heterosexual women.  After a major suicide attempt, I was placed in a neuropsychiatric clinic, and there, I could not stand to take showers with adult men.  I did not fit into a clinic for men. I would have fit in better in a clinic for women. Then I was referred to an endocrinologist who urged me to start testosterone therapy and that lasted 20 years, until 2001. I had promised a girl friend that I would undergo this treatment, a girlfriend who was aware of my distress.  So, I kept my promise.


What was positive about the treatment was that I was not taken for a “faggot”. Before starting the treatment, I had effeminate mannerisms. I tried to overcompensate for them.  I tried to mimic men in order to stop the abuse of being treated like a “fag”.  I did everything I could so that I would match up with what my ID card said: male.  But masculinity was not that easy for me.  When I was a teenager, my mother would tell me: “But run right, René!”  I ran like a girl.


After the treatment, I was virilized and I regretted not having done it sooner.  This possibility had been hidden from me even though I had asked about it when I was a teenager.  Now, I no longer have a high pitched voice (too bad because I did have a pretty voice and it was broken).  And then I started working out and doing a lot of sports and started looking like a “muscle man”.  This changed my appearance in such a manner than I now look like what my ID card says. Without the testosterone, I would have been very androgynous. 


I have won my battle!  Even though I do have a certain nostalgia for the time when I had to put up a fight, in the 70’s, for certain positive aspects of my difference, I still am proud to have come through this struggle alone.  I proved all the prognoses wrong.  I was told that I would not make it, that I would not live beyond age 25 because of suicide or some medical problem.  But I won. All that I have gone through was worth it. It was a beautiful experience in the end.


Under normal circumstances, I should not have stopped the treatment.  It was for life.  But I was afraid.  I was afraid of coming down with something very serious and I could no longer manage my emotions.  I became very aggressive, directed principally against myself.  I got into street fights and I was afraid of killing someone.  I could not manage this force within me, this anger.  I was afraid of myself.  That was why I stopped.  I was afraid of losing all control, of not having some type of brake.  Today, I have to start all over again because of my metabolism which has been seriously affected.  I become very week and the doctors have told me that I must take the treatment. I am aging very fast.  At 55 I feel like an old man.  To get around is very difficult both physically and mentally.  I am becoming shapeless.  I feel cut off from the system.  And sexually, the flame burnt out.


It is because of a lack of understanding: I am not taken seriously. So, I go back into my shell and waste away.  Today, I live a very lonely life and have basically cut myself off from the mainstream. I live the life of a recluse in my apartment and suffer from severe agoraphobia.  I am fighting against a system that did not want me.  It makes you wonder why you are on this planet earth.  I am no one’s father, no one’s mother.  A failure, a big disappointment.  It wasn’t until December 2007 that I knew that I was not the only one in this situation.  If I had not had the internet and OII (the Organisation Intersex International), I think I would have committed suicide.  I was headed in that direction. 


I would like to have the right to love, to be loved for who I am.  I have never had that. There has always been this, why this or why that to contend with.  If a woman wants an aggressive, masculine side, I cannot grant that wish.  It does not suit me and I am not gay so I don’t have that as an outlet either.  Even with lesbians, I am uncomfortable.  I have often run away if I thought I was appealing to someone – all this because I am a walled off woman and an incomplete man.  I often say that I am a clock without hands.  I go tick-tock but I don’t tell the time.

1 comment:

  1. Rene

    I was very moved by what you have documented here,my own life draws so many comparisons to yours....and I don't have Kallmans.I refer to those dreaded hormones as "horror moans" because over the years they've left me in such an uncomfortable state of being.

    I am xxy and have been trying to live as one,for longer than I care to remember.

    With the deepest respect to you