In 2005 I was running a small fashion label and had my own creative studio in the city. I often felt tired around 11am and started taking small naps on this big green armchair that I had in the workshop for when I need to chill out. At first my naps would last about thirty minutes to an hour and by 2009 I was napping at 11am and often waking up at 5, 6 or 7pm in the evening wondering what the hell was happening. I felt so guilty about sleeping all day that I would take any stimulants I could get my hands on to try and stay awake and keep working at night.
My, then, wife and I decided it was time to make a family and this added another lay of stress to my life. We tried diligently for over six months but nothing was working so by the beginning of 2010 we decided to to get checked out at the doctors, my wife was adamant that it was her. Blood was taken and tests performed and she come up perfect every time. It wasn’t until the day that I went in to give a sperm sample that I considered for the first time that the issue might rest with me.
I remember quite clearly the day they called me on the phone, at five minutes to 5pm on a Thursday afternoon, the nurse told me that they had looked at my sample and there was no sperm present, I was sterile and as a result they took a look at my blood sample and discovered I have an extra chromosome, 47 XXY and that I have a condition called Klinefelter’s Syndrome. Then they told me I “…might want to get some help with it…” and hung up the phone. It was the end of the day and my life, as I knew it, had changed forever.
When I saw the specialist he knelt down in front of me on a small pillow like he was at prayer, in one hand held a set of beads that ranged in size between a large walnut and a tiny pea and in the other hand he gently held my testicles. He ran my testes between his fingers and then flicked the beads over one by one, fingers jangling testes, beads falling away…fingers…beads…fingers…beads. He went all the way down to the smallest bead, paused, checked, paused, checked again and then flicked up one size from the smallest pea. I was diagnosed with hypogonadism and sent off to have my testosterone levels checked. I came in at 3.2 units and found out that someone at my age should have a testosterone level between 12.5 and 32 units, I started on testosterone injections immediately.
I thought back to my childhood, when I was 13 years old and should have been going through puberty, I started feeling like something was missing in my brain. I struggled to really describe this feeling to people, I would often say that it was similar to when someone is standing behind you, the way you can “feel” their presence, except for me it was the absence, I could feel the absence behind me, on my back, this thing that was missing, in my head. I often described this to people and I felt it all through high school and into my early adult hood, through 20’s and into my early thirties.
I could feel this absence when I went to get my first shot of testosterone. 1000mg of testosterone suspended in 4ml of caster oil was injected into my buttock with a large needle. It goes into the muscle and it goes in slow, afterwards it was difficult to sit down for awhile. I rode the bus home, every bump in the road drove into this fresh pain in my backside as I shuffled in the seat.
I had a home-based studio then and went back to work at the sewing machine, I was sitting there, running cloth through the needles, just 2 hours after that first shot and I realised that feeling had gone, that absence had been filled and I have never felt it since. Amazing, how my brain knew all that, since the age of 13 when I was meant be going through puberty, but wasn’t.
That first shot of testosterone, at age 32, forced me into adult puberty. What I didn’t know then was that this was the beginning of a personal transition that would change every aspect of my life and continue with disruptions and transformations that would span the next 10 years and beyond. My adult puberty had all the hallmarks of a teenage puberty except that I went through this transition with the pragmatism of a full grown adult. Coupled with a great sadness and depression that grew in me as a result of coming to terms with the fact that I would never father children, I also experienced drastic mood swings - particularly around being quick to anger and frustration - hot flushes, wet dreams, an 8mm growth spurt, growing pains, muscle growth and muscle pains, increased libido, unexpected arousal and extended erections for no apparent reason, lack of focus and a tendency to behave like a teenager with an “I don’t give a crap” kind of nihilistic and cavalier attitude towards life that sponsored a lot of self-destructive behaviour including alcohol abuse and drug use.
I came out as gender non-binary in July 2020, this was a cathartically liberating experience, I cried my eyes out for two days. I had no idea how much emotion was invested in this for me. For the first time in my life my biological sex was aligned with my gender identity.
This, coupled with my choice to uphold a sober and plant-based lifestyle since 2017, really does mark the beginning of the end of my transition into becoming my true self.
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