Today is an anniversary of the most important day in the life of a child 4 days short of her 14th birthday. She was in the Laurentian Mountains, supposedly learning to ski, with special friends of the family. It was December 27, 1959 and a month from her last attempt to take her life. A boy she really liked was teaching her to ski and thoughts of death were not present. One Psychiatrist, the last one, had told her she was the saddest child he had ever met and had then told her she could never be a girl and added several directed insults as to how she would end up. That last session had precipitated her last suicide attempt.
A very scared little girl who found the thought of ending up having to be male so abhorrent that death seemed preferable. She had no idea what was going to happen and that was deliberate by her mother and the family that was helping. They were going to an event that evening at the Club they belonged to so she was excited but even the ability to be herself for this short time in Quebec could not eliminate the feeling of desperation that ate at her soul. Being born this different does that to a kid. It eats at your very existence when the intensity is this high and she was depressed and assaulted every single day by her need to be the girl she already knew she was.
By itself the evening was wonderful after they arrived. She was able to dance with the boy she liked because mistaking her for a boy was never the problem in her life. The problem was everyone thought she was a girl which was far from pleasant in the late 1950's. She was ill at ease when she met the Physician brothers of the boy's mother because she knew they knew her story, somehow, which made her feel ill at ease and uncomfortable. She was not a boy that looked like a girl, she was a girl that had mistakenly been given boys parts and she wanted them gone.
She was then introduced to this shortish man with a slight German accent and he introduced himself as Harry something but he seemed more interested in looking for someone else in the crowd. The boy took her back to their table and she sat a talked with him. He told her how beautiful she looked but she didn't believe him because how could any girl with her warts be beautiful? It was nice that he said it and she liked him saying things like that but she had little self respect and admitting she was attractive did not fit in her opinion of herself. She felt inferior because she just felt so wrong.
The boy's mom who was her mom's lifelong best friend walked back over to the short German man and said something to him and his head jerked around and for some reason he stared directly at her. She suddenly felt scared and uncomfortable because she was sure he was looking at her because she was a freak which sort of fit her own self assessment.
The boy's mom walked over and sat down in front of her and said something that flew right over her head. It was something about that man helping kids like her or people like her but she was confused by what was said. She looked quizzically at the women she knew as Mary and Mary added, "Sweetie he can help you be the girl you should have been born as."
The shock of those words brought about an audible gasp of, "he can?", and she leaped to her feet to run towards him but with the help of Mary and the boy she was forced to stay seated and told she would meet the doctor after the meal. She didn't touch a drop of her food. All she did was stare at this man that supposedly could help her but she had heard that before from her parents and the multitude of Psychiatrists that had labeled her as a transvestite, faggot, gay, and every other nasty word they could think of. She had been hurt before and letting anyone in would not be easy. He had not been nice, in her mind, when they had been introduced so she was wary.
A little after 9 PM on a Sunday evening she was ushered into a room that had a desk and several chairs that reminded her of several Psychiatrists offices except for the missing books and the walls of diplomas that advertised their obvious belief that they had a clue. She sat down and he introduced himself as Dr. Harry Benjamin of New York City and that meant nothing to her. He might as well have told her he was the Man in the Moon.
Nothing else was said until she asked if he could really help her be a girl and when he nodded silently she let everything out and begged him to help her. She told him everything and she actually became faint and he came around to help her and consoled her by doing what he was famous for. He put his arms around a terrified child and told her everything would be okay. This was the second time she had heard those exact words but the first time from someone who was actually there.
She learned she was a transsexual and that there were other transsexuals but not a lot like her because kids were unusual especially then. She learned the harsh lessons of being born transsexual. She was hurt to learn she could never get pregnant but she could adopt. She was upset that the process would take years because getting the sex change surgery was not easy and 18 was a possibility if he talked with some friends overseas. She was told of the hormones she would take but that kind of went over her head. She learned it was possible to have a vagina which in her mind made her as complete as she could be.
He asked if she would be willing to talk with some other doctors on Tuesday December 29 at a local teaching hospital and she agreed to do it. She would later regret that decision but saying no to him was difficult. After they finished she was like most kids like her. She was disappointed she could not be a girl today or at the latest tomorrow because afterall everyone thought she was a girl and that was affirmed that evening. It just seem logical that she should get surgery and be a girl. Waiting is not something kids like her do well.
She was still confused and upset things would take so long and to her four years was a lifetime. She could not sleep and she did what she had done the previous night, she got up went into the kitchen and got a glass of milk and sat on the coach looking out the glass wall at the lake she did not realize was there and the lights across the lake lighting the surrounding town. She started crying because it seemed every time she thought help was available something happened and she had her doubts about this Benjamin guy regardless of what he had said.
She was interrupted by an opening door and tried to remain quiet but she knew Mary sensed when she was crying in the great room as she had the previous evening. She talked with Mary for a few minutes and expressed her doubts and worries that this help would evaporate as it always did and Mary left the room and returned with a bag and handed it to her. Inside were vials of female hormones that she was to take. There was Premarin which was the only word she remembered but Mary took several purple pills from a vial and gave them to her. She took them and started down her path to salvation.
The future would contain a horrible rape and the tragic death of the boy she loved but she would survive it all and eventually flourish after her SRS as just another girl, as just another mother, as just another wife(twice), as just another woman, and eventually just another elderly woman and grandmother. It was all she ever really wanted and in her mind she had won. She had a very successful career in business and consulting but that was never as important as the simple fact she got to be as she should have been.
That is of course me and today was an important day 54 years ago for me because it saved me from me. I have to wonder why something as simple as being the female, girl or woman you should have been is not enough? I left transsexualism in the dust where it belonged but somehow today that seems to not be enough.