Monday, February 21, 2022

Whose Fault was It

 I often think about and sometimes write about what if I was never gender dysphoric and ultimately made it my life's goal to be a woman. In fact, if someone had asked me early in life (and I gave a honest answer) what I really wanted to do with my life, somewhere in the answer, being a girl would have made it into the conversation. Of course I never had the courage to answer like that.

Photo Courtesy
J,J, Hart

I have written before on the effects of the drug DES which was given to pregnant women who had a history of problem pregnancies'. What is DES? Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic form of the female hormone estrogen. It was prescribed to pregnant women between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, premature labor, and related complications of pregnancy.  I fit the description as I was born in 1949 and my mother suffered from a string of cruel miscarriages and still births. So it's very possible I was a DES baby.

What did it mean to me? Most likely a lifetime of gender struggle. I wish I could reclaim just a small portion of the energy it took me to stay in the male gender lane. 

I wish too I could have had a chance to experience just a small lesson into what a girl went through growing up. I remember quite vividly the changes I went through when male puberty took over my body. I remember too how I didn't like it but thought I didn't really have much of a choice. I am happy for the young transgender youth of today who at the least have a possibility of being prescribed hormone blockers to help development  into their authentic selves. 

Looking back at the process now, I'm sure my Mom who was a very forceful individual would have forced her "daughter's" hand  into going to the same college as she did along with being in the same sorority. I can only imagine the pressure she put on me as a son would have increased dramatically

Most certainly there would have been other trade off's too. The primary one concerns my time in the military. Seeing as how I have to add in all the years the Vietnam War hung around for, caused me to have to worry about going and serving. All the worry led me to the ultimate prize of meeting my first wife and her birthing my daughter who I cherish as the greatest gift of my life.

For the most part, my gender condition was no one's fault. In the end I was given lipstick and learned to wear it and if it wasn't for DES I may not be around to experience the gender euphoria I feel on occasion. 

I wonder if DES had come with a transgender warning label if Mom would have decided to take it.


  1. The last words my mother uttered, as she lay in her hospice bed, were, “It’s nobody’s fault.” I think that was her way of making a final confession in general, but I’ve chosen to embrace it as a sign of forgiveness for me, her oldest son, even though I longed so to be seen as her only daughter. I doubt, though, that she would have been any less critical of me, but I still know that I’d have been a much happier daughter than the son I was forced to be. There was no need for me to come out to her, as I’d been caught more than once in my trans expressions. Although we never discussed the subject, I was chastised and humiliated on a number of occasions – even beaten with a stick – during my childhood for being (unacceptably) different.

    The beating incident took place when I was 13, after I’d put a small dent in her car during one of my middle-of-the-night jaunts out as my feminine-self. Despite the beating, though, I remember the whole thing with some humor. Her main concern was not that I’d dented the car, nor was it that I’d snuck the car out – never mind that I was only 13. No, it was her fear that someone might have identified me as her, being out at 3:00 AM! The optimistic way for me to remember this is that she thought I looked convincing enough for people to mistake me for my mother, and that it was a back-handed compliment for my ability to pass. Back-handed compliments were the only kind she ever gave me, anyway, but I was driving her car, wearing her clothes and wig, and I have always resembled her facially. Unfortunately, I also resembled her in temperament and sarcastic wit. I have learned to forgive myself for that, though, and I’m a much nicer person than I used to be; she never really got there.

    Gender identity is not a fault, but much fault can be attributed to how one deals with it – whether that be the person dealing with the dysphoria directly or others that are affected by it. So much more is known about it now than was known 60 years ago. I don’t blame my mother for how she handled who she thought was a sick and disgusting son. I do place some blame on both of us for never having had a frank discussion about my gender identity, however. Sorry, Mom, you were wrong to say that there was no fault. There was, but it was for what we didn’t do, and not anything that was done.

    “IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” ― Lewis Carroll

  2. Born 1952 and have a daughter that may be a second generation DES baby.