Have you ever wondered what affect we had on others as we went through this nightmare that is being born transsexual? Like most I am myopic in looking at this as my journey and my journey only to the young girl I should have been born. We all get the same hate and non-understanding from those that wish we would either just go away or stop this stupidity. Have you ever wondered what those that you became close with actually thought of you when they first came in contact with the strangeness that was you?
I have letters between my mom and Dr. Benjamin and those that I have translated are interesting, insightful, and sometimes even a little hurtful but my mother always loved me and as I have said not once did she ever say anything truly negative to me. It was not in her nature because I was her middle child and she was one heck of a mother as she sought a “cure” for her “sick” middle son and raised her other sons into wonderful adults.
A boy in High School broke down the wall I had built around myself to avoid trouble. I was not quite 13 when I began tutoring this boy in High School and I was not interested in friends. My life revolved around books, my belief I was a girl, and the knowledge I just could not live as a boy. I just could not do it and believe me it had nothing to do with being brave. It had one single purpose when I pushed back against “boy” just minimally. It was the only way I knew how to get through the next day without wishing I was dead and acting on it. Hopelessness is very difficult for a child. It leads to desperation and sometimes stupid and desperate acts.
When that handsome boy finally smashed down the wall I found a reason to live for the next day. He gave me something only my brother Ray had given me. Kevin accepted me as a girl and there are people around today that would categorize this as a gay relationship but it never was. That boy had more courage than anyone I have ever known because he was known as my “boyfriend” for most of his senior year in High School and he never wavered. He literally saved my life once and anyone that knew me said they knew there was something between us because my eyes lit up whenever we were together.
His mother was one of the most important people in my life after my mom. She had been my mom’s best friend when they were in High School and she was the Head Nurse in the Emergency Room of the local Hospital which was the critical care unit for emergencies in our area of Massachusetts. They received the worst cases and only forwarded the worst of the worst to Massachusetts General if necessary. I made it to Massachusetts General several times. For those not in the know Mass General has been considered one of the best hospitals in the world for a century and it truly is.
I live in North Carolina now and Kevin’s mom is nearby and we are very close. She was like my second mother back then and in many ways she made it possible for me to survive. I tell her she is one tough old bird and she really is. She is still active and our closeness has grown deeper in the last year. She kept a journal of what happened in her Emergency Room when she was on duty. She told me it was to keep sane. The Physicians and Nurses try and stay disassociated form the horrors they see but being human makes that almost impossible. Mary found that writing about some of what happened helped her “deal” with it. I spent a lot of time in that Emergency Room from 8-14 and that included multiple suicide attempts, some nasty assaults by “confused” boys, several rape attempts, and a successful rape. It was quite gruesome in retrospect but seemed unfortunately normal to me.
I knew nothing of any journal until a few weeks ago. Mary and I have talked a lot about back then because it means we talk about her son Kevin whom we both loved so deeply. I have no bad memories of Kevin except his death and that certainly was not of his doing.
I always wondered what Mary must have thought of me over that timeframe. She witnessed some of my desperate personal acts in the Emergency Room first hand and witnessed what others did to me but it was the trauma I caused her family that always bothered me because they were truly traumatized. Nobody deals with kids like us and comes away unaffected whether family or not. Mary offered to let me read relevant information. I was certainly a pain in her ass at times back then
Mary also told me she kept a journal or a diary about her family which is where the weird stuff comes in. I was a big part of that journal from late 1958 until Kevin’s death in Southeast Asia in May of 1963. In both journals I am initially recognized by my original boy name which is difficult for me because I so hated that name which might actually be stupid. My boy name had nothing to do with how screwed up I was or my being born transsexual. After all naming me “it” was not really an option when I entered the world. They had to choose something to name me since I was perceived normal.
She first saw me in an Emergency Room after a suicide attempt in 1954. She was the Emergency Room Nurse that helped bring me back when I came close to succeeding at suicide when I was her son’s tutor. She struggled with the realization her son liked this very weird child as a friend and then more than a friend.
It was a time when I struggled to survive daily and she struggled to understand daily. Eventually I survived and she understood. That understanding resulted in someone that cared enough to make my meeting with Benjamin possible. I do not know how to say thanks to Mary although I try. That she could go through all of this and worse an end up loving me like her own daughter baffles me. It also makes me realize there are people that do care or will care once they understand. I also learned that if given the chance many can learn to understand.
I do believe it helped immeasurably that I was so young and maybe being so young and naïve was a key. It is kind of difficult not to feel empathy for a child.