I have read a lot of fiction about transgender intersex people, but the Katherine Phillips story, Walker’s Path, is the first I’ve read that actually pretty accurately portrayed the experience of living as an intersex TG person.
I am intersex and transgender. Although I don’t have ambiguous genitalia like Walker in the story above, it is definitely interesting how much Walker’s journey mirrors what I went through.
In the story, Walker is raised as a boy and begins developing secondary female sex characteristics. As such, he finds it hard to live as a boy and covers his body up in baggy clothes as a result. His girlfriend invites him over to her house for a slumber party with her female friends, and they find out about his intersex body. He agrees to be dressed in girl clothes, although his desire to present as a male makes it hard on his mental state when he sees how much he looks like a girl after they dress him up and put makeup on him. He begins to ignore the thoughts of having to be a male and begins to enjoy how he looks.
I can definitely feel Walker’s pain in this story. I was raised as a boy, felt like a girl, and wasn’t allowed to be a girl, so my experience is a lot different.
But I can definitely remember feeling like Walker in wanting to present as a boy, in my case to please my parents. I also wore baggy clothes to hide my body, as well as walked on the sides of my feet (a terrible habit it took a long time to overcome) in order to not walk like a woman. I remember it being way too hard to present as a boy, and being weirded out that people would call me she or her even when I was wearing boys’ clothes (and unlike Walker I was near 6 ft tall, and currently am 6 foot even). I once went into a crowded female restroom as kind of a test of my “maleness” and no one said a word even though I was dressed head to toe in boys’ clothes and had a short haircut. I had a teacher in high school wonder why I looked so young (I was a senior who looked like a freshman – and a feminine freshman at that). I definitely wasn’t going to tell him what I knew at that point (that my “male” voice was fake since my voice never dropped, that my arms had a feminine curve to them, that I only grew sparse hair on my body, that I grew absolutely no hair on my legs, and that I was never able to get an erection in my life).
I talked with my mom about this today, and I told her how weird it was to be addressed with female terms like ‘she’ and ‘her’ when I was dressed as a guy. We recounted a time that I went to extremes to present as a guy at a convention by shaving my head. She said that she thought at the time it was weird that I shaved my head although I wanted to be a woman, wondering if I didn’t want to be female after all. I explained to her that I didn’t want to be mistaken for a woman, and we remembered times that we would walk together at Eldridge Park with me dressed in guys’ clothes, and the passers-by would call us ‘ladies’.
If I had friends that wanted to dress me up as a girl at the age Walker is in the story, I know I definitely would have been hesitant at first because I was raised as a boy. I’m sure I would have relented after a while too, just to see how far they could have taken me. True, I have always felt like a girl deep down, but Walker’s experience is similar to mine since I had (and still have, sometimes) this unusual thought of being too ugly to present convincingly as a girl, even with evidence standing right in front of my face that this obviously is not the case.