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About Me

I’m genetically male, male assigned at birth and was born in the mid-1960s, the second eldest of six children. I’ve always been quite unusual, quite different in behaviour, build and appearance from my brothers and the rest of my family. Although I did have a puberty, in my teens and twenties I had quite feminine facial features and very little in the way of body hair. My body type would be best described as mildly eunuchoid, as I have long slender arms and legs, an armspan greater than my height, and my sole to pubic symphysis length is well over my pubic symphysis to crown length (the pubic symphysis is a band of tissue located just above the penis that joins the left and right side of the pelvis). I have some muscle on my legs but have never been able to build any on my arms.

The actual measurements are:
Height 185cm
Armspan 189cm, 4cm greater than height
Sole to pubic symphysis 97cm
Pubic symphysis to crown 88cm, 9cm less than the sole to pubic symphysis

My iliac crest height is 104, giving me a leg to trunk ratio of 1.28:1 – far above the ideal male ratio of 1:1 but just about the ideal ratio for a woman!

A common medical definition of eunuchoid habitus is
* an armspan more than 5cm greater than height. Mine’s 4cm, so close but not quite there.
* a pubic symphysis to crown measurement over 5cm less than the sole to pubic symphysis. Mine’s 9cm less, well into eunuchoid territory.
* diminished muscular development, particularly of the upper body. Check.
* sparse body hair and a female “escutcheon” or pubic hair pattern, which was true for me until quite recently (when I started taking low dose clomiphene citrate).

I haven’t yet been karotyped (the procedure for detecting unusual genetic conditions), but these measurements point to me having abnormally low testosterone throughout my life and suggest I have some kind of intersex condition. They’re fairly typical for what you’d see in a genetic intersex condition such as 47,XXY (Klinefelters syndrome), or after prenatal exposure to feminising hormones such as DES.

I’ve been able to rule out Klinefelters as the cause, and other genetic conditions such as Kallmanns syndrome or Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (PAIS) don’t seem to fit the bill either. The theory I’ve arrived at is that some kind of massive exposure to artificial female hormones took place during the second trimester of my mothers pregnancy with me, that temporarily disrupted my endocrine system and meant that for a few weeks my testicles stopped producing any testosterone. The result was that certain parts of my brain developed as female instead of male, including my hypothalamus and pituitary (which are the parts of the brain that control hormones). Other brain regions have been affected as well, with the result that certain parts of my behaviour and personality are more like those of a woman than a man.

As an adolescent I was very shy, had very socially passive behaviour, no interest in sports, and was completely unable to fight back so would get mercilessly bullied at school. A lot of people found the way I looked very visually appealing and in my teens and twenties I got a lot of attention, although unfortunately nearly all of it was from men. Where I did have success with women, they were usually the type who tend to hang around gay men. Looking back on it now I can see that, in addition to having quite a feminine appearance and body structure, I also had a lot of female mannerisms and behaviour and the combination of it all was leading everyone to an inevitable (and wrong) conclusion.

Sexually, I’m definitely not a typical male. I’ve always had quite a high sex drive, and in my teens and early twenties had no refractory period whatsoever and could have hours of multiple orgasms. Despite the high sex drive, I’ve always found it very difficult to achieve orgasm in unfamiliar situations and particularly during sexual encounters with strangers. When making love, instead of having the single surge of continually increasing arousal building up to orgasm that most men seem to experience, I have to go through a series of peaks and troughs, each peak a little higher than the last, until I attain one strong enough to push me over the edge. Ever since I was old enough to masturbate I’ve tended to do it lying on my back, and overall I’m a lot more passive sexually than most men seem to be. I used to think these things were just the way I happened to be, but looking at it now, it does seem very much like a female pattern of arousal and orgasm, and female copulatory behaviour.

Early in 2010, after more than a decade in a relationship I suddenly found myself single and thrust back on the dating scene. So I embarked on a big self improvement program, and as part of that I had a close look at how I was interacting with women. It was then I realised that I was instinctively taking the female role in social situations and doing many of the things women would normally do to attract men, instead of what men do to pick up women. In short, I have female courtship behaviour.

Although my conscious self-image is male, my unconscious behaviour and what I actually end up projecting to the world has an awful lot of female in it! Naturally I was curious about why this should be, and that started me on a mission. I spent a lot of my spare time during 2011 trying to find out as much as I could about sexual development in the unborn child in an attempt to figure out what went wrong in my case.

The breakthrough was reading a passage in the book “Brain sex” about a study into the behaviour of teenage boys whose mothers suffered from diabetes and had been given the drug DES during pregnancy. Those teenagers showed a characteristic pattern of shyness, socially withdrawn behaviour and lack of interest in sport – the same pattern of behaviour I had as a teenager. Although I knew DES itself was unlikely to be the cause of my condition, from there it wasn’t hard to work out that some kind of massive exposure to artificial hormones must have taken place during the second trimester of the pregnancy (probably an overdose of birth control pills).

About a year ago I joined a support group for DES sons. They seem to share many of the same problems that I’ve experienced, including gender identity issues and lifelong problems with hormone regulation. The difference is that for many of them the effects seem to have been quite a bit more extensive, giving them a fully female gender identity and in quite a few cases, intersexed genitals too. In my case, my endocrine system and testosterone production were probably only shut down for a few weeks, whereas for the majority of the DES sons, the way the drug was prescribed means that their testosterone production would have been completely suppressed throughout the second and third trimester of pregnancy. The result is that their brains must have largely or completely developed as female. What I’ve seen of the personal life stories of the DES sons in the group certainly seems to bear that out anyway (along with the fact that probably close to half the group are now pre- or post-operative transsexuals).

As far as I can tell, most of them just happened to stumble across the group by chance and they are probably a fairly representative sample of DES sons. If that is the case, then a colossal medical disaster has taken place affecting between 2 and 3 million people (the total number of DES sons born between 1940 and 1971), which the authorities have so far managed to keep completely hidden from public view. I’ve gained a strong impression that there are certain people who know only too well what DES has done to the DES sons, and that there’s been a concerted effort going on for years to keep the true facts a secret. I could be wrong of course. Perhaps we live in a world where you can expose 3 million unborn baby boys to 40 times the dose of a drug that would chemically castrate an adult man and have nothing happen? Or perhaps we live in a world where the pharmaceutical industry and medical establishment closed ranks to cover up a disaster so huge that it would completely bankrupt them if the truth ever got out. That’s for you to decide, I know which one I think it is!

3 Comments
  1. Holly permalink

    Hey, I don’t know if this is really your area, but your blog is the closest thing I’ve found to answering my specific question and I’m really curious. You mentioned that your unconscious behavior is feminine, as opposed to your active identity as masculine. I had an interesting experience that makes me wonder if I’m the same way, except unconsciously/subconsciously masculine and consciously feminine.
    Recently I went to a guided-visualization activity, which involved becoming very relaxed almost to the point of lucid dreaming. Part of the activity was to picture ourselves leaving a note for ourselves in a box. I wrote a few words and put it in the box and said to myself, “She’ll know what it means,” but it felt wrong to refer to myself as “she.” I revised it as “He’ll know what it means,” and that seemed more right. After that experience, I started paying more attention to how I experience my gender, and discovered that in dreams, when I’m alone, and in my own head I feel like I’m on the masculine side of genderless, but I identify as female, feel comfortable in my female body, spend my time with women, and feel that I’m fairly feminine, even if I don’t always express myself as such.
    I don’t know if my mother had any exposure to male hormones as you’re suggesting yours did to female hormones, but I do have high testosterone levels for a girl, which contributes to my lower voice, abundance of body hair, irregular period, and possible risk for PCOS.
    I’m wondering if that is close or comparable to your experience? Do you think that sort of contrast between subconscious and conscious gender is common?

  2. There’s research on both sheep and monkeys showing that one thing that can happen when you expose a developing fetus to external hormones, is that some brain development occurs as female and some as male. As adults, these animals showed some behaviours that were male-typical and others that were female-typical. I don’t see any reason why the same shouldn’t happen in human beings, in fact I think it’s the only thing that can explain how I ended up the way I am! Considering how widely hormones are used in womens medicine (including during pregnancy), there must surely be a lot of other people around in a similar boat, and maybe you’re one of them.

    DES seems to have had largely if not exclusively feminising effects, but some of the other hormones used during pregnancy prior to the 1980s turned out to have quite strong androgenising effects on female fetuses. Supposedly the newer ones don’t, but who knows. If the pharma industry, FDA etc won’t admit that a lot of people experienced cross-sex brain development due to DES and first-generation progestins, who’s to say that some of the newer hormones still in use aren’t producing similar effects?

    From what you describe, you have signs of hyperandrogenism, which is basically the mirror image condition in genetic females of hypogonadism in genetic males (the condition I have). So, it seems plausible that, if the bits of your brain that control hormones ended up the mirror image of mine, maybe other aspects of your brain development did too, and you’ve got a subconscious gender identity that’s male even though your conscious gender identity is female. Do you have masculine body language? Is your behaviour male-typical? I’m very shy, demure, don’t have much self confidence, and (in social situations) have a tendency to follow what other people are doing rather than take the initiative. Male-typical behaviour would basically be the reverse of that, i.e. you’d be cocky, confident, and often take the lead in things.

    • Holly permalink

      I tend to act more feminine in public, but it feels like just that–an act. I’m quite confident, willing to take the lead if no one else steps up, and I do think I’m overconfident to the point of cockiness when I’m with family or good friends, in situations where I’m completely comfortable. Basically, in public, among strangers, and in new situations, I default to feminine expression because that feels safer and more familiar to me, but in more familiar situations I start behaving more and more masculine, talking more and louder, teasing my friends more, suggesting ideas and taking the lead more often. On the first day of school, church, any group thing I participate in, I dress and behave very feminine, but once I’m comfortable in the situation, I go back to jeans and a t-shirt and start speaking up more. (This may just be my clothing standards going down over time, and not actually becoming more masculine.)
      I do think it’s got a lot to do with comfort for me–like I said previously, I feel much more male when I’m alone or dreaming–which would indicate that I consider female-ness a sort of defense or safeguard. Similarly, the first friends I make in a new situation are usually female, and only much later does my friend group expand to include males.

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