Who Is In The Mirror?

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Some might call me “Transgender”.  I reject this label.  If one wants to label me by my medical condition, one can use the term “intersex”.  I was born between sexes.  But I am not “above” gender.  I am male, I was male in the pre-mortal existence, and I’m a man on this Earth.  This is my story.

The Beginning

I was two years old when I first declared I was a boy.  Staring into my mother’s full-length mirror on the back of the closet door, I studied my reflection and in a perplexed voice, asked, “Mama, why is there a girl in there?” I don’t vividly recall the question or the response, but I remember looking at my reflection, and my mom remembers the entire experience.  She doesn’t remember exactly what she said, but it was probably what you would expect a well-educated mother to say to a two-year-old “girl”.  She might have told me simply that it was me in there.  A simple explanation of the mechanics of reflective material might have been invoked (a mirror lets you see yourself!).  Regardless of what she thought to say in that moment, it was the first time I asked the question that I would ask myself for the next nineteen years before getting an answer.

I received plenty of answers in the mean time, but none of them were True.  At age five, when I told my kindergarten class I was a boy, I received a lecture later that night from my parents, who told me that I couldn’t say such things.  At age nine I was told I couldn’t go into the boys’ locker room to change, because I was a girl.  As a preteen I would throw temper tantrums befitting a four-year-old whenever my parents forced me to wear female clothing, and I was told that I would need to “get used” to the body I had.  When puberty struck, the terrible mental and physical pain that came with it was explained by school nurses, doctors, and my parents as something that I would “learn to live with.”  Attempts at managing the physical pain with medication fell short, as did all attempts at assuaging my aching, imprisoned spirit.  I eventually convinced myself the lies were true…but this only lasted a short while.  While I concluded that there was something definitively wrong with my brain that made me think and feel the way I did, I did not conclude that my spirit was female.

Background

Thus far, this biography paints a picture of a childhood filled with anguish and strife.  While I certainly had challenges, I want to make sure this tale goes no further without stating several important Truths.  First, my parents love me.  My parents have always loved me, and everything they ever did for me or told me was done or said out of love.  If their intentions were occasionally misguided or misinformed, it was not for lack of love.  Second, I had a relatively normal childhood.  For a kid with significant medical challenges (especially after puberty), I managed to play outside almost every day, getting dirty enough that my mom still talks about how she used to tell me to strip right there in the vestibule instead of tracking dirt through the house.  In elementary school, I managed to become the undefeated champion in the Nintendo 64 classic, 007: Goldeneye.  I had GI Joes and Beanie Babies that were part of an imaginary military academy, and I tied bungee cords to my toys and hurtled them over the stairway landing (then I critiqued the GI Joes’ and Beanie Babies’ form in a notebook).  I hand-printed a series of children’s novels about a little boy named Alex whose grandfather had a time machine in his attic.  I started writing books on my computer in sixth grade, and haven’t stopped since (in fact, I’ve published a series of seven science fiction novels).  I excelled in school, despite struggles with ADHD, and went to college and earned a degree in engineering, and double majored in psychology.

Denial

My parents gave me an enormous amount of freedom.  I found out early on that if I was good and followed the principles of critical thinking and good decision-making that they had set forth, and met their academic and behavioral standards (for the most part), I would be afforded a greater amount of freedom to do whatever I pleased.  This was a cycle  of positive reinforcement, because as I was increasingly responsible, they were increasingly respectful toward my thoughts and ideas.  Admittedly, I had some terrible ideas as every child does.  But when I thoroughly considered a hypothesis, did the research to back it up, and presented the concept to my parents, they would respect my hypothesis and give it serious thought.  This is probably why they were eventually accepting of the evidence I submitted to them that I was actually a boy.

For almost two decades, though, my hypothesis that I was a boy flew under their radar.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps denial, or preoccupation with more pressing matters, or my ability to compensate and excel in school and life, or the hope that I would reject my own hypothesis eventually.  Our family doctors were not well-informed enough to catch some of the warning signs.  I’ll go into some of the biological details in another post.  But suffice it to say that the signs were there, and my cries for help were not answered.

Finding the Right Path

I began a spiritual journey in my sophomore year of college, and it was then that I heard the Holy Spirit speak for the first time.  I asked honestly whether the Lord existed, whether He was present in my life, and the Holy Spirit came back with a resounding YES.  The Lord’s finger had *always* been present in my life, guiding me along, writing my story with me.

I began to ask the Lord more questions.  Was Christianity True?  Who was Jesus Christ, really?  Which church was the right church to join? What should I do with my life?  And, of course, Am I a Boy?  At that point, asking if I was a man was not even in my realm of thought.  I still thought of myself as a boy–a little boy, at that.  I had never experienced sexual attraction, and my emotions were stuck in a pre-pubertal phase.  It was as if I was frozen in time.  When I dreamed, and I remember my dreams very frequently (which is something else I will expand on in another post), I was always a 12-year-old boy.  Even when I was 20.  The few dreams where I was a 20-year-old woman were nightmares, because it was as if I had been transplanted into someone else’s body.  And that was how I felt during the day, if I ever allowed myself to think about my circumstances.

In fact, it might have been my own denial that led to my parents’ ignoring of my claims.  I thought, acted, and felt like a little boy in every way but intellectually (most 12-year-old little boys do not excel in calculus and neuropsychology).  Despite my outward appearance, despite others referring to me as “she”, and even despite the crippling pain I would experience in my internal organs, I largely ignored my body and my gender.  In psychology, I learned about how abuse and torture survivors often disconnect psychologically from their bodies, and see the abuse or torture from afar as if watching someone else going through it.  This is how I went through most of my post-pubertal life.

But eventually something changed.  It only changed when I learned the first major Truth–that the Lord exists.  That He had been present in my life all along, that He loves me, that He wants me to follow Him.  That He made me.  He made…me.  *Me.*  It is as if this revelation plucked me out of the denial I had been living, and plopped me down in the middle of a pile of Truth.  The Holy Spirit graced me with His presence regularly, once I learned to listen.  I was prompted to watch some Youtube videos, in which well-educated, articulate, “normal” individuals declared they were “transgender” and began a medical transition.  I was prompted to enroll in neuropsychology studies at my university, where I tested positive, again and again, for male-pattern brain activity.  I was prompted to read medical journal articles about gender identity.  I felt the Spirit guiding my understanding of the words beyond anything I had learned in school.  I was prompted to read Isaiah 56, and other powerful scripture verses.  Most of all, I was prompted to pray.

The Chance to Grow Up

The Holy Spirit led me to the conclusion that my spirit was male, and always had been male.  I came to the conclusion that I was actually a little boy who had never gotten the chance to grow up.  The science, the scriptures, and the Spirit’s voice all pointed to the same conclusion.  I spoke with an endocrinologist, a doctor of osteopathy, several MD’s, and two surgeons, who ran tests and wrote prescriptions and confirmed what I had known all my life, but of which I never had proof.  My body was born in between sexes.  My outward appearance was largely genetically female, but my organs were ill, my body was struggling, and my brain was trapped in a pre-pubertal emotional state.  With a trip to the pharmacy and a quick lesson in how to give myself an injection, I was given the chance to grow up.  I have kept that first vial of medication, where I wrote, “In this box is a small piece of freedom.”

Immediately, I noticed changes.  The universe seemed to have given my body back to me.  It was mine again…or at least it was becoming mine.  My voice dropped…it sounded to others as it had always sounded to me, in my head.  I grew facial hair and chest hair.  The terrible, debilitating pain I felt for half of every month vanished.  My migraines were greatly reduced to just a couple a year.  I grew three quarters of an inch.  There were some changes that I should have felt but didn’t because my body was already exhibiting those male traits.  I began to notice girls for the first time.  I had never been attracted to anyone before, but now I was attracted to almost *every* girl.  It was quite distracting!

The biggest change of all was that I started to be able to look in the mirror again.  I had come full circle from that initial perplexity at age two.  There was no longer a girl in there.  I was in there now.

I ask you to pray about the things I’ve written.  Ask the Lord if they are True.  I testify to you that these things are True, and that if you open your heart, the Holy Spirit will testify to you of their Truth.  I write these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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J. Cabot is a young engineer and author. He was born intersex, but didn't receive treatment until he reached adulthood. He approaches the world with an insatiable curiosity and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and exploration. He tackles every puzzle before him with thorough research and a scientific mindset. In college, he sought out an answer to the question of whether God exists, and the Holy Spirit witnessed to him that God does indeed exist, and that God had been present in his life from the beginning. After bouncing between churches in a search to find the right one, he became an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He considers the medical challenges he has gone through in his life to be gifts from God which have served to make him stronger. He also considers his responsibilities as a member of the men's group in his church to have helped him develop his role as a man in society and serve the Lord to his fullest capacity. His life is dedicated to serving God, his family, and America.

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Posted in Gender, Personal History, Uncategorized
9 comments on “Who Is In The Mirror?
  1. […] the dead, healed the sick, and changed the hearts of men.  This is why I’m thankful.  I spent a longer time than most as a boy, and now I am a man, and have been able to assume my role as a servant of God.  There is no […]

  2. […] Patriarchal Blessing confirmed to me that I am indeed a man, that I have always been a man, and that I always will be a man.  It would be a sin for me to […]

  3. […] closely related.  This knowledge of the separation of body and spirit especially makes sense for a boy whose body was developing like a girl’s (even though the development wasn’t smooth, it was still predominantly female).  But […]

  4. […] to everyone around me that there was no way they could possibly understand.  This is what I referred to in my first post as “disconnecting” from my body.  I essentially went into a state of denial, and […]

  5. […] most people, “whatever they feel like” *is* what they are supposed to be.  For me, I felt like a man and I am a man (even if my body exhibited predominantly female characteristics before I received treatment).  But […]

  6. […] am no stranger to contention.  I was born a boy in a girl’s body, so even before I hit kindergarten, I had gotten into plenty of arguments with my parents, my […]

  7. […] might seem quite confusing without some context.  Allow me to direct you to this post for some background on my recent journey to […]

  8. […] story is not unlike many transgender (ie, intersex) people in that I discovered who I was at an early age, and am now living as who I am supposed to be, after a long struggle with the world’s […]

  9. […] Gradually, I came to understand the concept of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World.  I attended a Presbyterian Church.  But then a number of things occurred, the most significant of which was my gender transition. […]

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