Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Elementary School

 Where are you Kid?

When I was a kid I always wanted to be normal. I might not have known what normal was, but I knew I wasn't it. I grew up very short stature and androgynous. To be honest, I liked looking androgynous, I liked being both and neither. Unfortunately for me no world existed where a kid could just be a kid.

I grew up on the south side of Chicago, in a close-minded community where there was no room for someone like me. I grew up where men are men and women are women, and someone like me was never suppose to make it out alive. I think that's why in the beginning I enjoyed going to the hospital for numerous tests. I knew they would study me like a guinea pig, but it was like a vacation from my real life.  At first it was fun, meeting people from around the world. Every year during summer break we would all meet up again at the hospital.  But I soon noticed that even though we were all there for a growth hormone study, I was the only one whose genitalia was being examined. That's when I realized I am different.

Every morning a group of doctors would enter my room and expose my genitalia. They would all crowd around my bed and stare.  "What are they staring at", I often asked myself. When they left they often left without replacing my hospital gown. So I would lay there waiting for someone to rescue me. After the i.v.'s were removed and the examination was over I would be allowed to go play with the other kids. I don't ever remember asking anyone if they were examined like me, but I was a curious kid so I'm sure at some point I did.

Numerous times I would have an i.v. in both arms, and couldn't move. I was powerless against the parade of doctors coming in my room to examine me.  For years I had a reoccurring nightmare of that scene, of being surrounded by a group of doctors in lab coats and feeling afraid and vulnerable. Feeling like no one was there to protect me.  Losing myself behind a wall of emotions.

During this period in my life I also suffered from asthma, and was also hospitalized for long periods of time at a Children Hospital. To avoid missing too much school I had classes at the hospital.  This eventually caused problems for me because whenever I returned home and went to school I was told I talked white. So while I was still picked on, it was no longer because I was Intersex and looked androgynous, it was because kids thought I thought I was better than them.

This caused more stress for me, which caused my asthma to flair, which ended with me being hospitalized and attending more classes in the hospital, which ended with me being picked on even more when I returned home.  I cried myself to sleep on many nights,  not knowing what to do.

I suffered through elementary school with asthma attacks, summer vacations in the hospital for more test, and being picked on through it all.

One memory I still managed to hold on to, and probably the reason I love walking to the lakefront today, is once at the children Hospital I looked out my window and noticed the lake.  I've seen the lake many times, I've been to the lake many times, but this time I felt empowered.  I felt like life through everything at me and I am still here.

The day after my 8th grade graduation I had a major asthma attack, and would be hospitalized for a few weeks. I was happy I was leaving my elementary school.  I thought High School would be better. 

I was wrong.