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.