Telling My Stories

A life lived outside

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Posts Tagged ‘just plain weird’

The Road from Jaipur

Posted by catkisser on August 6, 2010

There were some advantages of being a girl the world mostly saw as a boy growing up but sometimes the two collided in one of those days that stays with you all your life.

I was sweet sixteen and on an extended hike outside Jaipur, India, the Pink City.  Even that seems ironic today.  I was alone, something that never would have been permitted if my sex/gender was known.  Alone, that was the operative word for this day because everywhere I looked, everything I saw that day was paired and I was not.  I was alone and unpaired and hyper-aware of that.  I suppose that was the day I came to feel alien to the rest of humanity, an observer of the world rather than a participant in it.  It was one of those days I took out from my “so what, deal with it” mental file where I kept the fact I knew I had a female brain in a male body that fact and felt it, let myself feel it.  And it was intensely sad and lonely because along with letting myself feel that was knowing I would never actually be pair bonded because in some weird fashion, I already was with myself.  This turned out to be literally true when I learned much later in life I am combined twins.

I have no idea why that particular day and place hit me that hard and before and afterwards I remained someone who craves “alone time” instead of one of those people who does anything to avoid ever being alone.  Later that very year while visiting the Woodstock School in Mussoorie, up in the mountains and again alone sitting next to a mountain stream I had one of my first “peak” experiences of total connection to the entire universe, the polar opposite of that day in Jaipur.  Perhaps one is not possible without the other.

But both leave you with a feeling of being a stranger in a strange land.

I tried to pair bond many times in my youth, even married to achieve it only to be left feeling utterly alone in that marriage as well.  In retrospect all my attempts at dating were extremely awkward and often forced because I lacked the instincts expected in a male dating a female and it literally never occurred to me to turn that around for a better fit although it sometimes happened naturally for a while with a naturally aggressive girl.  But never lasted because she was still looking for a man and I wasn’t one and I suppose on some level I was looking for a man myself and she wasn’t one.

I have never had any problem with finding emotional intimacy and empathy with others, I do so naturally and easily but I never have had much success at physical intimacy with anyone.  And I often remember that day on the dusty road outside of Jaipur when I reflect on that.


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The Rise and Fall of the Illiterati

Posted by catkisser on May 4, 2010

Part 1, Global Viewpoints and How I Arrived There

I have to begin this with some personal history.  The phrase “stranger in a strange land” has special significance for me because it sort of sums up much of my early life experiences.  There was a time when I believed that those with similar unusual life experience would be freed by them as I was.  The increasing fullness of years taught me yet another lesson, it’s not the experiences as much as it is whether or not you learn from them and the sad conclusion that most simply don’t learn.

My father, with whom I have many never to be resolved issues long after his passing, was an educator of the humanities who went to Dartmouth and Yale and studied both psychology and history.  I grew up surrounded with all the classics of literature, history and psychology as well as a pretty good collection of the golden age science fiction novels.  The psych eval done on me in first grade indicated I was reading on a seventh grade level then.  I remember in seventh grade having to fight the local Liberian for the right to check out Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” because it was a commie book only an adult could handle.  She lost that argument and I got to expand my understanding of the Soviet people.  Not to mention learning quickly that her understanding of a “commie” book was totally divorced from reality.

I grew up at the very tail end of what is sometimes called a “liberal” education that included an expectation of exposure to Enlightenment literature and the classics.  I was part of the last generation that was taught the difference between democracy and a representative republic, something the average American today has no apparent understanding about.

In short, I grew up feeling I was a stranger in a strange land but schooled in the ideas that knowledge and it’s pursuit were desirable and valuable in it’s own right and no field of inquiry was off limits as a result.  For example, my seventh grade science project was unique.  Already having delved deeply into so called occult subjects and so called fringe science I decided to explore whether or not psychic ability measured by the Rhine cards being used at Duke University would be influenced one way or the other by hypnotism.  The answer was yes by small but statistically significant amount.  I got an F on that project because it wasn’t “real” science given by the very asshole who approved my doing it in the first place thus learning a much greater lesson than the work itself but far different than the one he thought he was teaching me.

A year later we move to New Delhi India.  We traveled slowly throughout Europe and the Middle East to get there using a very out of date version of “Europe on Five Dollars a Day” which meant we were always well off the beaten track the tourists took.  And I got to see a world that doesn’t exist today, one prior to the homogenization of Western/American culture.  And we lived in an India that still was much more similar to Kipling’s India than the India of today.  I explored that India outside the Western enclaves where most stayed and did so with relative freedom.

I attended school with kids from all around the world, not just Europe and America and I met some of the great minds of the time like Joesph Heller of Catch 22 fame, future Ohio governor and first lady Richard and Dagmar Celeste, future Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi to mention a few.

So, due to a perfect storm of a unique neurology and a unique childhood I view the world much differently than most people do.  I learned to see the world though the eyes of an interested, even fascinated alien observing the wider human condition.  I see the world globally and work down to specifics, understand human nature in wide concepts.  The ancients called this “as above, so below” and today it is expressed in fractal mathematics and demonstrated by breaking a hologram which then has each piece a smaller but complete version of the original.

I put this first part here because of the autobiographical content.  the following parts will be at

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The Last Time I Wore Camo’s

Posted by catkisser on January 12, 2010

Life is full of weird little ironies, one of them was the circle of “guys” I hung out with, mostly dating back to my college days, was a mixture of Yuppies and those from rural backgrounds.  In college, I actually taught most of them how to shoot and later, how to track and hunt.  True confessions time, one of the ways I coped with my “issues” was to hide behind a beard much of my adult life.  This was actually quite liberating in an unexpected way, you see it allowed me to be reasonably true to myself, a woman, while bearing that unmistakable male marker that deflected attention to the fact.  Ask any female to male transsexual about that because the very first thing they typically do is grow a beard when the testosterone lets them for that very reason.

The summer of 93 I shaved it off….and a funny thing happened as a result, to everyone who knew me, I was still male but those I met for the first time, I either confused the hell out of them or they simply saw me as a butch woman.  And it scared the hell out of me because here was my big, dark, forbidden secret and people were seeing it without trying!  The next couple of years I got a crash course in how people gender other people and the ability of most to absolutely not see things happening right in front of them they didn’t want to see.  I would go with one of my male friends to do something either gender neutral or downright macho and I would immediately be taken by all we met as the wife…..and the male friend absolutely would not acknowledge it was happening at all.  Trips to the flea markets and farm auctions with Terry this happened but most surprising to me was hunting, fishing and canoing with my friend Tom.  Tom’s wife, Nancy had inherited a cabin at Lakeside, Ohio.  Lakeside was a gated Methodist resort area on Lake Erie and Nancy’s family mostly just rented it out during the summer but every spring and fall Tom and I would go up to open and the close the cabin for the season and make an extended weekend of it so as to get in some fishing.  Without a beard, and especially when we brought his young son, Andrew, with us…..I was the wife…to everyone…and Tom never once allowed himself to see this even when older couples would come up to us fishing on the dock and ask him “who catches more fish, you or your wife?” and point to me.  Or when some other kid Andrew was playing with would say something like “ask your mom if you can join us for dinner.”

But it was the last time I went deer hunting with Tom that it got really really strange.  I was a master cabinetmaker with my own business and it was very hard to take time off if someone had a job in process.  But deer hunting was one excuse everyone in Ohio understood.  Opening day was pretty much considered a holiday and high schools even were frequently shut down for it.  For me not to go hunting on opening day of deer season with Tom was literally unthinkable.  So that year, even though I’d gotten a puncture wound on my hand that was getting infected and not responding to my home remedies, I went.  Even though I was running a fever of over a hundred.  I really didn’t want to go so I made sure I picked a spot for Tom where he’d be assured of getting a deer right away and sure enough, around 11 am he did and after helping him dress it out, I was free to go home and did.

My business had been slowing down all that year and the only health insurance I had covered emergency room visits only.  I was three counties away from home and was driving past a county hospital so I stopped in to have my hand lanced and get a prescription for anti-biotics or so I thought.  Ok, let me paint a mental picture for you.  I was driving a pickup truck with an easy rider rifle rack with a shotgun and black powder rifle.  I was in hunting camos from head to toe with the hunter orange vest.  Heavy camo hunting boots.  This was literally the most butch you could go without pissing in public.  I was told they had to admit me for treatment and was given no choice in the matter even though I kept telling them, I’d drive to the hospital near my home and get admitted and that I absolutely wasn’t covered by insurance and would not be able to pay for this.

I was there for three days, put in a private room which made no sense to me at the time and in retrospect absolutely no one on staff checked out any part of me other than my hand.  Working several years later as a nursing assistance, and ironically sometimes in that same hospital I can tell you this was not standard treatment.

Cut to several years later when I had just transitioned.  The hospital sued me for the fees, no surprise.  Tom, who was an attorney, represented me but refused to see me in person after I’d come out to him.  One day he called pretty upset and said he had just received the admittance form from that visit and couldn’t talk about it so he was emailing it to me.  These forms are a checklist of the exams done by the admitting physician.  It all looked pretty standard until you got to urinary/genitals exam.  Handwritten in (instead of checked) was “exam deferred, normal female”.  At least that last time, Tom saw it.

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“She’s a Witch!!”

Posted by catkisser on September 24, 2009

I come from two old New England families, on both sides of my family tree is a Salem Witchcraft victim, Susanna Martin on my mother’s side, Sarah Good on my father’s. I have identified myself as Pagan most of my life, began actively practicing as one early in my teenage years when only the most obscure works from the prior turn of the century were available and then only with great difficulty.
I’ve been alternately open and low key about this most of my life. During the sixties, it was considered ‘cool’, by the mid seventies I was a very out Pagan contact person. I was targeted by the first wave fundies back then. This was a time when many mid-west police departments still had “occult squads”. What happened back then I may or may not write about at some future time, but it was horrific and life changing and put me back in the broom closet for almost twenty years.

Today I am quite quite out there as the head of a reclamation of the ancient Goddess traditions, the Maetreum of Cybele. Some now claim I made it all up but in reality what we do is a culmination of a lifetime of gathering information, historical research, Divine inspiration. It is a faith with the simplest of theologies but that have an impact on every aspect of my own life, that each of us, all that we encounter, the world, the rocks, the trees and all the animals are part of the Divine which I understand as feminine in nature. Rather than blindly reclaim ancient rituals, we have sought to go to the essence and use that to understand our rituals with a rejection of dogma. We understand each element we use in ritual and our rituals are aimed at a specific goal, a connection with at least part of the whole. This is gnosticism, which loosely translates as “knowing”. Once you have experienced something, you know it and don’t have to use faith.

I’ve gladly used the term “witch” to refer to myself, proud of our family history. Occasionally I find myself in an odd position as a result. Back when the Phrygianum was first established we had an intent of helping transsexual women find a place to pull themselves back up by their bootstraps by providing a safe place, a sanctuary. One of the young women we took in was a street prostitute. She started to turn her life around while living with us, cleaned up off the drugs, got work of the day labour type with locals, had many long discussions with me about the morality issues in magickal practice. She was Santerian and into dark practises.

All that changed abruptly when another person we took in, a human disaster I’ll call D/D, started making shots at Jasmine’s womanhood, which was the height of irony because Jasmine was 100% female and this other individual embodied all the worst of a fetishistic transgender. But it came to threats of violence involving a weapon and both were told to leave. Jasmine left, D/D we had to start eviction proceedures against. While I don’t use it often, I am well versed in magick myself and I cast a simple banishing spell on D/D, within 24 hours (s)he left. I began lobbying for Jasmine’s return because she had shown such promise.

About a month later the others agreed providing Jasmine did not live in the main house with us. We had a smaller caretakers house on the property so we agreed to rent it to her. Unfortunately Jasmine immediately backslid, found local drug connections, started using again and hooked on to an older local man and used him skillfully to provide for her every need. We finally had to ask her to leave and this time, under the directions of D/D strangely enough, she decided to fight us through an eviction proceedure. Unlike D/D it went to court.

While both of us were in front of the Judge, she suddenly pointed a finger at me and yelled “she’s a witch!” I had an interesting flashback to my ancestors at Salem. The Judge asked her why she thought I was a witch and told how I used banishing oil to remove D/D from our home. The Judge looked at me and asked “is this true?” I replied “yes your Honour, it is”. Then he asked “did it work?” and I replied “yes your Honour it did, (s)he left within 24 hours without any further contact.”

You could see the wheels in motion in the Judge’s eyes “hmmmmm, stubborn tenant refuses to leave, Cathryn throws simple spell, they leave….note to self, call Cathryn the next time one of these things presents itself.”

But I still had a Salem moment of accusation of being a witch in an open court.

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Old Wives Tales vs. Crone Wisdom

Posted by catkisser on August 12, 2009

One of the least noticed but most “in your face” symptoms of overall patriarchal mysogyny is the expression “old wives tale” to dismiss any wisdom that fails the male logic test.  How much do we lose as a society by dismissing in this fashion what, thousands of years ago, was considered one of the best sources of interpersonal wisdom, that of post menopausal women or Crones.

My first experience of feminist awakening I’ve already written about here, but it was my older aunt, Hope, who explained it to me clearly long before second wave feminism reached it’s zenith.  Thinking back, it’s remarkable in itself that she would do so at all, but then I was not shy at all asking about the world from my older female relations and I listened to what they told me.  She was totally honest in telling me her assessment of the nature of my parents relationship and she was dead on accurate as well without being nasty, mean or demeaning about it.

My mother’s side of the family was the old New England down to earth type.  I learned a different set of morals and “correct” behaviour from them that had little to do with traditional “right and wrong” and very strong on treating others with respect sans “moral judgment” on things that actually should be no one else’s concern.  Hope and Vinny didn’t bother to get married until the twins were on their way….almost two years after my cousin, little Hope, was born.  This wasn’t a family scandal, it was barely considered worth noting.  In fact, the joke among my many aunts and uncles on my mothers side of the family was I was the first eldest child actually conceived within marriage.

My female role models among my family were all strong, outspoken women, the men, equally strong and unthreatened by this, with the possible exception of only my own father.

Which brings me to the friendship I shared with my neighbor’s mother, Mrs. Weathersby.  The summer we returned from India my own mother and Diana, who lived across the street on Plum Island became good friends despite the fact Diana was closer to my own age, in her mid twenties, than my mother’s.  All of us got involved in holding seances, playing with the ouija board and assorted craziness which will be the topic of another entry sometime in the future, but through Diana, I got to know Mrs. Weathersby, her mother.  And from her I learned to truly appreciate Crone wisdom.  I was seventeen years old and had I been “normal” I probably never would have paid her much attention but there is something compelling in long conversations with someone who feels free to tell you precisely how she sees the world around her from both long experience and with no “gender” considerations added.  I learned more from her about art appreciation, local politics, relations between the sexes and seeing the world as it is rather than what we want to see than anyone else in my life.  Diana and my own mother joked about our friendship, but in no small part my own transition later in life was to Crone with an appreciation of exactly how wonderful a state of life that can be.

Thank you Mrs. Weathersby for that wondrous gift.

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“They Could Smell the Girl On Me”

Posted by catkisser on August 12, 2009

One of the ways women like me are dismissed is “socialization” as males rather than females. The response to this is often to deny any participation in male privilege as a child. That’s nonsense but the truth is a little harder to put your finger on.

My childhood was during the fifties and sixties, a time long before a kid unaccounted for more than 24 hours found their picture on a milk carton…..if you were male, or considered male. I’ve addressed elsewhere exactly how rigid the gender roles were during this time, if you didn’t grow up during this period of history, you’d be shocked. But while I would not deny I benefited from the greater freedom granted males during my childhood, it’s far from a complete picture on the other hand. With that greater freedom came all the problems of not fitting in with boys and the costs of that.

I never “got” the male dominance games that seem to be hardwired in to the male psyche. Let me explain. Among mammalian males this need to organize in hierarchies with established pecking orders seems to be an essential part of maleness. Among human males this means establishing who is the alpha and so forth. Boys will fight each other (or sometimes use sports instead) to establish who the alpha is. Once established, everyone is supposed to resume friendships as if it never happened. I “get” this intellectually, I never “got” it emotionally. And it got me in a lot of hot water as a child and left me a perpetual outsider in childhood. To me, someone trying to beat the crap out of me for no apparent reason was an enemy….period. Friendship was out of the question, especially if they had fifty pounds on me, towered over me or in some other fashion physically imposing. Allied with this hard wired male instinct seems to be the concept of a “fair fight” meaning if you were smaller, you weren’t supposed to equalize that. Opps, another concept I didn’t “get” and the source of my getting in a lot of hot water.

I was named after my father’s favorite uncle. This was a man who almost certainly was a repressed homosexual, hated women far beyond simple mysogyny and ran a boy scout “camp” on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. My paternal aunts and uncles convinced my parents this camp was just the thing to make a man out of me. For three summers in a row, between the ages of seven to ten, I was shipped off for several weeks to be, let’s be completely honest here, tortured by a sadist who hated me because I was named after him, very girly when he hated anything feminine, and probably worst of all in his mind, better than him at some areas of “woodcraft” which he held in highest esteem because I spent most of my free time in the woods. There is the distinct possibility he also sexually assaulted me as well, but if so, I totally repressed those memories. I was constantly beaten on by older, larger boys. I was punished for not “fighting fair” by using whatever was at hand to defend myself, I felt my life was in danger the entire time. “Uncle Foster” believed that taking us to the country store to buy the fixing for our next day’s meals taught us to learn how to manage money. I had to walk the three miles each way while the others rode in the truck as part of my punishment….almost every single night. Even when I had a large cut on the bottom of my foot that should have required stitches, but I was denied medical treatment for I literally had to walk six miles round trip in order to be able to eat the next day.

For three weeks a summer for three summers in a row I was tortured almost 24/7. The only relief was when I snuck out in the middle of the night and did incredibly dangerous things like trying to swim to an island 1/2 mile out from the camp and back not really caring if I made it or not. The third summer my little brother was also sent to the camp and told my parents that everything I had told them was true about what was happening to me. I stood up to “Uncle Foster”, told him to his face I would piss on his grave. Family members will not tell me where he is buried knowing, to this day, I’d do it and exactly how satisfying it would be now as a woman.

So, was I socialized as a male? I had a large measure of the relative freedom granted males over females, but little of the other advantages, almost none of the “male bonding” experiences and a large measure of similar self esteem destructive abuse heaped on girls. You tell me.

I explained all this in my own mind as “they somehow could smell the girl on me”.

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Practical Magick

Posted by catkisser on August 8, 2009

I come from two very old New England families, one dirt poor “swamp yankees” the other with a linage that includes John and John Quincy Adams, the composer Stephen Foster and other semi famous personages mixed with a Swedish grandfather.

My mother’s side of the family always felt like my “true” family.  On that side was William Wood, who wrote the book “New England Prospects” that triggered the immigration to New England and Susanna Martin, the witch of Amesbury called by Newsweek the first American Feminist.  She was hung for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials, but only at the end of a long life that saw her raise nine children mostly by herself while managing her farm.  My mother’s side of the family practiced magick, accepted the realities of ghosts and spirits and were quite open about family stories of the supernatural.  We played with Ouija boards, did seances and communed with the spirits in those marvelous pre-revolutionary homes in the family.

One family story was about the closet in my Grandmother’s bedroom.  Apparently all my aunts and uncles had had the same dream about it growing up.  My grandparent’s home was in a small town called Groveland just east of Haverhill.  Our family was connected to Plum Island, off Newbury and Newburyport back as far as Susanna Martin.  Every one of my aunts and uncles and my mother had dreamed as children that there was a portal to Plum Island in my Grandmother’s closet.  As a young child, I had the same dream and was told about theirs after revealing mine.  So you see, my childhood was filled with magick, it was second nature to me.  I also was drawn from the earliest memories to any wild space accessible to me and back then even New England had no shortage of them.

When we lived in Framingham, Mass. one such place was along the river a  few blocks from our home.  A “woods” as we called it then about 30 or so acres with encroaching suburban tract homes pressing on two sides.  I practically lived in those woods.  On one visit from my paternal Grandmother, who never approved of me at all and made little secret of that, she deliberately let my parakeet, Petey, out the window.  Petey was allowed to fly around the house most of the time and never before had flown out of the house.  I was devastated and obsessed over his survival in the coming winter.  I searched for him in the woods for months.  Paying particular attention to the treetops as a result, one day the idea occurred to me to “invent” a new animal that was part bird, part mammal that had both feathers and fur.  I was quite skilled at visualization even then and had no problem at all “seeing” this animal at will while aware it was something I had made up.  To my amazement, I had no trouble at all getting others to see it too!  In just a few weeks kids I didn’t even know were reporting sightings of my animal/bird.  Call it the power of suggestion, mass hypnosis or magick, it taught me an early lesson in perceptions of reality and how they could be malleable.  It was my first experience with practical magick, it would be far from my last.

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Posted by catkisser on August 8, 2009

In the earlier entry called Life’s Turning Points I talked about my “feminist awakening” in the pre-dawn of the Second Wave of Feminism. How I became aware of male privilege by having it extended to me by my father and I rejected it causing a rift that never healed between us.

I had trouble since his death forgiving him still. Privilege is a hot button topic these days but having lived a life essentially outside I have had unique experiences with it. I was born in Grosse Point, the wealthiest place in America at the time. I joke I was born with a plastic spork in my mouth because we were the “token poor folk”, my father being a teacher at Detroit University School. I attended nursery school, kindergarten and first grade with the wealthy elite but not one of them. Class distinctions were something I was aware of at a very early age as a result.

The summer of 1964 we moved to India. Perhaps because of my early experience with class in the supposedly classless society of 1950’s America, the culture shock for myself was quite different that those of my American classmates. I say American classmates because the American International School in New Delhi was truly international. Students from all over the world attended. I knew and socialize and played with kids from Soviet blog nations, South America, India, Europe. And it was not lost on me how ill equipped many of my American classmates were to deal with a society with the caste system. I ate India up……..loved it. Unlike my peers, I listened raptly to stories from our “servants” about Indian culture, religion, ghost stories. And apparently, in retrospect, they knew more about me than I realized.

Our live in cook was an incredible man named Lakshman. It was strange enough suddenly going from suburban middle class to having servants but here was a man who spoke seven languages and could read and write in five of them…and he was a servant because of his caste. Lakshman never once called me by my birth name in two full years even in response to others using it when answering the phone or in conversation. He insisted on calling me Jackie instead, often to the great confusion of those trying to leave me a message. It took me years to figure out why along with remembering some very stern warnings he gave me whenever I planned a trip to villages outside the Delhi metro area. During this time shortly after the assassination of JFK, Jackie Kennedy had a position in the rest of the world similar to that which Princess Di would have later. She was literally the royalty to the world. Calling me Jackie was Lakshman’s way of telling me he knew me and who I was and he approved and honoured that. He used to warn me that my hair colour, red, would get me in a lot of trouble if I was seen as female. At the time I made no sense of why he would tell me this but he and others (all Indian) repeated this to me constantly. Red haired women were considered witches outside the urban areas. I did not know at the time about the Hijra, no one told me of them and if I ever met any, I was unaware of it………but every Indian knew of them and apparently recognized my similarity to them with no problem.

Other than Christine Jorgensen, no one in “polite” Western circles ever discussed people like me. Despite having devoured my father’s psychology text books from the time I first cut my reading teeth, I found almost nothing but very vague references to anyone like me, anyone intersexed but Indian myths, religion and folk tales were full of them. It was at my first “western” party I met first person who set off my intersex radar as well. Western kids in India socialized with dance and music mixers at each other’s home a lot. New arrivals were expected to bring along the newest records from the US and England so the parties were a big deal. At my first one I met a girl who was leaving India for the States and something happened between us I’ve rarely experience since. She and I were drawn to each other like we were opposite poles of a magnet and it wasn’t sexual. We talked all night long as if we were long time friends and I can still see her face clearly in my mind..but I have never been able to find a picture of her in the school yearbooks from the immediate prior years. I am certain she was intersexed like myself.

In India I cut across all class lines and borders constantly. Many classmates were from much poorer situations, some from totally different cultures and ideologies. I met with adults who would later be a head of State, the governor of the state I was to live in later, servants and beggers and even did volunteer work in a leper colony. Economic class never meant much to me after that and the rest of my life I went from poor to well off to poor many times without much concern. Racism was also a concept pretty much outside my personal experience until my senior year of high school in West Virgina.

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Posted by catkisser on June 15, 2009

I’ve been many things and seen many places in my somewhat unusual life journey so far. As a teenager I lived in India and travelled much of northern India and Kashmir. I was blessed with being able to explore many of the sights of Rome, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and much of the rest of the Middle East as well at that time. I’ve ridden an arabian stallion to see the pyramids, spent the night basking in the reflected moonlit in front of the Taj Mahal, gone on elephant back through the jungle, explored the old bazaars of Istanbul and old Delhi, climbed in the Himalayas. I attended Ohio State University where I followed my interests for three of the four years resulting in an education closer to the traditional “classic” model than is the norm for most American college students. I was a “hippy” and a political activist in the late sixties. I was married 25 years and raised a wonderful daughter. I was a master cabinetmaker, a psychiatric aide, a mystic who taught classes for the OSU free university in the mid-seventies on the occult and finally, a nursing assistant who worked as a “gypsy” aide in many different hospitals and nursing homes.

Not a “normal” woman’s life in many respects, but then, I’m also not your standard woman.

I was born in 1949 near Detroit, Michigan and the gender and name on my birth certificate then is not the same as the name and gender of my life today. I could now bore you with all the lurid details of growing up different, but most reading this already have heard it many times in many forms from others. My story differs only in that I discovered relatively late in life that I was born intersexed and that fact was hidden from me by most of the doctors I had contact with who knew. Intersexed?, what’s that you ask? Is that where someone has both male and female genitals? In my case, yes. But my case is unusual among intersexed people as well. I am what is called a tetragametic chimera or “merged twin mosaic”. That means I was born with both XX and XY tissues and had some of both sets of genitalia, which is extremely rare. Scar tissue indicated surgery was done on me when I was born without my parents knowledge or consent. It borders on certainty in my mind that a hysterectomy was done on me when my appendix was removed in 1980, again, without my knowledge or consent. I spent many years as a transsexual advocate and am only now breaking my silence on being intersexed rather than transsexual. None of it is really relevant to my life now except as history. Today I am happily female, my body and mind in congruence.

I could wail about the difficulties of my life, regret my lost girlhood and be resentful of the years I spent trying to act like a male for all those around me, but that would be missing and regretting all the wonderful things I did and learned unrestrained by the expectations placed on women in western society. The simple fact is, I was able to learn and do things unhampered by those expectations and my life has been richer for that. I consider myself blessed being the way I was and the way I am today. Each and every step along my journey taught me valuable lessons and opened my eyes to aspects of life that most others never even considered. Even becoming disabled had it’s positive results. As She did in ancient times, the Goddess chose me before birth and guided my life to forge me according to Her will.

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