“In the year 2000 at the age of thirty seven I was diagnosed 47 XXY, which means I have one extra sex chromosome greater than a standard Male 46XY or a standard female 46XX, the shortened down version of what that entails, is my body did not produce sufficient testosterone that would have allowed it to virilise in line with my peers, and in that absence my outward appearance developed along female lines. It was an appearance that was very obvious to all who knew me including my wife, yet I was raised male and naively believed there were other males like me, even though I had never met another.
So in 2000 when the Endocrinologist said ‘testosterone would make me a man and bring meaning to my life’ I jumped at that opportunity, all I wanted was to be normal and knew it was not something I had ever experienced before, being told I was sterile did not bother me in the slightest, not least because I still felt like a child myself in a thirty seven year old frame. Testosterone injections were initiated 200mg Sustanon every fortnight and within three months I was starting to feel very uncomfortable about the entire experience, my phallus had overtaken my brain and the thoughts of sex and masturbation were a constant, I fantasised a lot of me being a woman with a male partner, I honestly felt as though I was losing my mind. Upon mentioning this my GP, he formed the opinion my dosage should be lessened to 100mg over a seven day period, so basically the same amount but with greater frequently. Within six weeks acne throughout my entire body had turned to boils and was extremely sore to touch and bleeding while I slept. My thoughts on sex were now a constant and were only slightly lower than my thoughts on suicide, upon mentioning this to the Endocrinologist he didn’t seem at all fazed and said words to the effect ‘it was an initiation and within three to four years it’d all be over and you will feel better’ in reply I recall telling him ‘if this is what my life came down to, then I didn’t want any part in it and I would eventually find a means to kill myself. From this point I was referred me to a psychologist who specialised in the treatment of Transsexuals and upon my second visit, she said ‘I did not display any of the classic symptoms of being a Transsexual’ she could however see that I was suffering from severe anxiety as a result of exogenous testosterone and suggested that it be stopped immediately. When I advised my GP of my intention to stop, he said my life would not be worth living without it, to which I replied ‘I would not have a life because I would be dead’ and so it was that he ‘released’ me from his care, saying there was nothing more he could do for me.
It’s from this point on that my life took a turn for the worse and I found myself completely confused as to who and what I was, I knew I wasn’t the male person whom doctors believed me to be, and instead saw myself as a combination of both male and female yet, neither one nor the other and because I was unable to pin this down, gender confusion seemed to consume my every waking moment. Without any doubt whatsoever exogenous testosterone was the main culprit that brought on this dysphoria, it was like someone flicking a switch that awakened my inner soul, a soul that wanted no part in virilisation, it was a part of me that would eventually win out and guide me to where I presently am.
In desperation and with nowhere to turn, I wrote a letter to the Gender Centres counsellor telling them of my journey to that point and whilst they never really grasped the seriousness of what I was experiencing, they were nonetheless willing to help and sent me off to their psychiatrist who, had a little bit of understanding of XXY and of the anxiety sometimes caused to those who come to reject testosterone. My eventual diagnoses was of Gender Dysphoria (Not Otherwise Specified) and in the doctors referral to the Endocrinologist he wrote “how he hadn’t been able to fully work me out, that I did not display any classic symptoms of being Transsexual, and because I had specifically asked of him that I be allowed access to estrogen, he recommended that it be approved but only for a shortened time so as to counteract the effects of the heightened anxiety caused by my introduction to testosterone. He was nonetheless intrigued by my rejection of masculinity and even more so at how I viewed my duality of gender, so much intrigued that he went on to write three papers on the subject published in the Australia & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry and the British Medical Journal respectfully.
Such a pity my first foray at visiting an Endocrinologist had not been as warm, welcoming and understood as this one, as, like the Psychiatrist, he too had an understanding of XXY and had other patients who struggled with testosterone and whom, under his guidance had been administering estrogen for long periods of time.
He paid little heed to the Psychiatrists note of estrogen only been for a shortened time, and told me he was willing to leave me on it as long as I was deriving a benefit from it. Ten years on with his support and guidance I have finally become the person I had always known myself to be, but had lacked the courage, vocabulary and life experiences in order to achieve it, looking back on it all, I can quite honestly say I have been to hell and back and in that process have proven them wrong, in that life does have a meaning, and it’s a more powerful one, than anything I could possibly have derived from exogenous testosterone.
A little over a year ago at the launch of the Australian Human Rights Commission Initiative, Resilient Individuals: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Intersex Rights, I happened upon the Psychiatrist who wrote those papers, he took one look at me and said “you’ve arrived” I told him I could not have achieved this without him, to which he replied “I was a tough one to understand, yet he was glad to have experienced ME, to which I replied “so was I”