There was a hormone fluctuation before birth. It's very odd to discuss one's genitals, but it is possible to be in some half where place where it could go either way and still be fertile. I don't know either of my parents enough to know what they thought or why they decided what they did.
There was a time, at the start of this process where I thought sex and gender were really the same... and I could just choose which one I wanted. Just pick a pink shirt or a blue shirt and go with it. It ought to be that way.
There really isn't any functional difference in the humanity of a man or a woman. If you take a broad selection of men and women, they'll fall along a spectrum of intelligence, emotional functionality, ability to cope with life, dominance, submission... everything. There are members of either group all along any spectrum you can imagine. Who I am should not be impacted by my gender identification.
But it is.
I've done a lot of therapy... lots of introspection. I can tell you the moment and reason for almost every decision I've ever made. My gender identity was set before I can remember. It's so deep inside me that I can't change it. I'm a boy. I know this almost more certainly than I know anything else.
To be fair, my childhood was the stuff of horrified CNN stories. When I was really little there just wasn't anyone actually interacting with me to tell me that I was supposed to be a girl. My mother left me with my grandparents on a farm in Pennsylvania. I herded cats, wore shirts with male action figures like Underdog and Top Cat. I talked to the old black and white TV and thought I was Porky Pig. No one told me be a girl, be a boy. I saw boys and thought I was that.
When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I'd be a doctor. The image in my mind was that of a adult male doctor.
Then, one cold winter day when I was about four, maybe five, my grandfather decided that I was an object for his gratification and downstairs in the cellar, I lost hold of all that it means to be a human.
I tried being a girl. Boys were bad.
When I was six my mother took us to San Francisco. It was 1972. San Francisco was the wild wild west with a hedonistic streak that would have made Nero at home.
My mother had so many problems. I imagine that if she'd been adopted by a loving family she might have grown into a powerful and sweet woman, instead of a fractured, terrified, broken drug addict who would later rent her six/seven year old child out for heroin.
When I was 8, in a religious centric foster home, I decided I was going to be a preacher and help people when I grew up. I could see myself.. looking very much like Corey... being very much Corey (from Redeem Me). I was greatly surprised and confused about the world when I was told that I wasn't allowed to do that. I was a girl. I was like... What? Are you sure?
When my mother married me off at 15, I remember my mother-in-law trying to teach me to walk like a woman.
It's a strange place when the whole world is telling you're something that you don't feel you are, when the world can't see who you see when you look at yourself.
When I got into m/m writing... in 1989... it felt like I had a voice - like I could have a life. In 2003 when I started being published and people could read these stories about who I thought I was... and liked them well enough to buy them decently... I felt like I was being seen, like I existed.
Hanging out with Jaime Samms, who is awesome, I grew a lot, found myself even more.
Whether I was born visibly intersexed or not, everything works, even if it doesn't match what other women talk about or experience... I'm male. That's the only way the world makes sense to me.
When people decide to be polite and call me mam, or worse, they decide that it hurts their world if I'm a sir... and call me mam with a vindictive bully glee.... it hurts. I can't understand why someone would want me to be invisible, why people won't want to know me as I am. I don't really understand how it makes someone else safer to measure my cock against their ideal.
Transexual people are something like 3% of the population, but my therapist tells me it's something that happens in the womb, some wash of hormones. Whatever happened on the third tuesday in the first trimester... who knows. I don't care. I finally feel safe and whole.
This craze last week with people saying really hurtful things to people who are non-gender normative or say they are.. whatever.. people are at different places in their process... I recognize that I'm kind of like a Frankenstein monster.. and if the mob comes to get me... I'll have something for them because for the first time... I actually have something to defend. I have a self to defend and I love who I am, even if the process of getting here hasn't been any more pleasant than being awoken with a good lightening jolt.
I'm not my characters. I feel like I've finally stepped off the page, straightened my tie... I can feel the brush of the autumn breeze across my face, ruffling my very short silver hair, and whatever comes, for all the people who died over the course of my childhood, all the loves that didn't last, all the outcomes that weren't what I wanted, all the things I didn't totally ace - it's okay - there's today and there will be enough tomorrows and ... I'm Max.