I am a woman who was assigned male at birth, March 25, 1964.
I was told there had been a problem: undescended testes. Not totally uncommon, but my parents also mentioned that I needed to have two circumcisions, which of course is impossible.
What was the real story? I’m not sure I’ll ever know.
I got my first job at age 4.
My mom and dad had learned from a neighborhood friend that extra money could be made by having your kids pose for modeling and TV commercials. My sister and I were naturals, the all-American kids next door.
I secretly started working as a girl when I was 12, voicing the part of a pre-teenage girl in a radio commercial.
From 1976 until 1981, I modeled girl’s clothing. I remember the first time I saw the girl I was staring back at me from the makeup mirror: instead of feeling as if I had been dressed-up and made-up and coiffed from a boy into a girl, it was as if the girl within had been chiseled out like a sculpture. I had been revealed.
I took vitamins which undeniably helped me be a more convincing girl. My skin, my voice, my lack of usual male secondary sex characteristics — and my budding breasts — they all worked in tandem with my Dorothy Hamill hairstyle and long nails.
When my dad caught me being fitted for a bra to model at age 16, the jig was up. No more modeling as a girl, no more vitamins.
I got a haircut, new headshots and changed my stage name to “Don.”
It would be more than 30 years before I learned those vitamins that came in a clamshell case were birth control pills.
I went back to living a boy’s life. Puberty hit around 19.
I looked back at my years playing a girl opposite Sarah Jessica Parker and modeling on fashion runways with Brooks Shields as nothing more than acting.
And less than 15 years later I chose to be a woman for Halloween.
My then-girlfriend was taken aback. More than a few people asked me what my costume was. I saw me for the first time in more than a decade; the first time as an adult.
In 2006, I had redeveloped breasts. My body hair flaked off in clumps. My hips splayed, I lactated (three times) and I shrunk three inches in four years.
I started gender therapy in 2008.
I started using male hormones first then finally conceded that wasn’t what I needed.
First time I saw “me” staring back in the mirror I cried, seeing both my resemblance to my sister and recovering my own lost self/esteem. I switched HRT from testosterone to estradiol on March 3, 2011.
I realized I was on the right path on April 1, 2011. I’ve not seen or had a penis all this time.
But I wasn’t ready to live full-time in my appropriate gender — female — until April 3, 2013.
I legally changed my name April 29, and came out at work and to my Facebook friends May 2.
Not three months later, I involuntarily detransitioned after a seizure. The doctors told me I was suffering from a form of amnesia.
I returned to living pretending I was male, only to recover the memories of my transition and my happiness within a few weeks.
I came out a second time May 2, 2014. Despite losing my career and marriage, there is no looking back.
I choose to celebrate being me, by living my truth.
4 thoughts on “I Am Dawn”
Thank you Dawn! Each of our stories are different and yet so similar!
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I also had undecended testicles and had one dropped by a doctor when I was a few months old. The other was removed when I was 30 in 1976 due to the fear of a high rate of cancer for it. I asked the surgon to see it as I wanted to make sure it was not, as I feared an undeveloped ovary. The doctor said it was already incinerated. In the last couple of years we have learned our gender mix up could have begun in fetal development. Even as a toddler in 1947 I knew something was not right. as I grew I was the smallest male out of our entire family by five to 9 inches. I gravitated to everything feminine and did everything I could to appear macho.
Are you aware of any studies about a relationship between being a transgender female and the undecended testicles affecting pre-natal gender development?
Thank you for all you do for all of us.
Maryanne Holms aka Maryanne Marttini
Thank you for sharing your story! I don’t know if a connection but my Facebook friend Hugh Easton of the UK thinks it’s related to our moms taking DES. Connect with him at http://Facebook.com/hugh.easton.7