Mini Memoir Monday: I Was a Man for a Month

John Stossel

John Stossel (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Growing up, 20/20 was one of my favorite shows. I had a ridiculous crush on John Stossel, even with his creepy mustache, and I stayed up late whenever he had a special.

One night he covered the story of two girls who grew up thinking something was different about them. When all their friends were developing and getting their periods, these girls did not. Eventually, their parents revealed that when they were born the doctor botched their circumcisions, and so the doctors and parents decided to just chop the whole thing off and raise the boys as girls. Little did the parents know, woman are not just men without penises; sexuality is a lot more complicated than pure anatomy.

The show explained that until the 1990s it was common practice to raise boys as girls if the penis was damaged during the circumcision…and I was born in the 80s.

After watching this show, I wondered if I could really be a boy. I was the tallest girl in my class.  My hands seemed absurdly large. I started noticing my voice was way too low to be a girl’s voice. Could it be true?

At dinner, I studied my parents’ faces, watching them laugh at political jokes that were over our heads. Were these the kind of people who would let a doctor take my penis?

A month later I got my period, and I was able to put the idea to rest, but I’ll always think of John Stossel as the man who made me feel like a man.

***If you would like to submit your own mini memoir, please fill out the form on this page, and read the post carefully.***


  1. What a brave story! And I agree, I think there’s so much more to our sexuality and gender identity than appendages. It would be so difficult to grow up feeling sure you were encased in the wrong gender body. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  2. Hah!!! Your mother doesn’t believe in circumcisions , so I don’t think so! I don’t think a male’s first experience with his sexual organs should be to have them cut. The AMA has shifted their position o this subject. Your dad would have wanted a male child to have a circumcision. It would have been a major debate between us had I given birth to boys. But lucky for us, I didn’t.


  3. Great post on a serious subject, but, as always, mixed together with your wonderful sense of humor. I really enjoy your mini-memoir posts about yourself, Tracy. I wouldn’t mind doing these myself on a regular basis, but for some reason I just can’t seem to think that I’d be all that interesting to read about.

    Oh, I was always a John Stossel fan myself, though not for the same reasons of course.


    1. Thanks! If I actually sat down to write a memoir I probably wouldn’t include any of my mini memoirs – it’s a really liberating medium. You should definitely try it out!


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