Female genital mutilation

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. ┬áMy 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.

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