For over 25 years, I was an ordinary woman with a secret. It's a secret that always made me feel "less than" and caused me to leave behind a trail of failed dreams and relationships. In those years of ordinariness, no one ever discovered my secret even though not a single day went by without me being terrified they would. It colored every decision I made and every relationship I was in.
My secret? I was a woman who was born with a penis. I relate to people who are transgender because I also had to have surgery so that my body could match my brain. Like all women, I was born with two X chromosomes. I was also born with a Y chromosome. That is where the penis came from. It is a condition called Klinefelter's syndrome. I am XXY. Technically, that makes me intersex.
I became a long haul truck driver to distance myself from my fear and my life. Trucking is anonymous, and as long as you present yourself as ordinary and keep to yourself, it is a good place to hide. Trans women, in particular, and many intersex people, too, can have a difficult time passing in a profession where a person's appearance is scrutinized. A truck driver's appearance is not as important. However, it is not a good profession to be out about being trans or intersex.
My first real exposure to LGBTQ activists came from my years of listening to shows on SiriusXM OutQ while driving a truck, cruising down America's highways and calling in to various programs, which made me feel like I was finally part of a community. I have gained some notoriety as a frequent caller to these shows, and also from a documentary short, Trucker Patti shot by filmmaker Beau J. Genot, who came out on the truck with me for 10 days last summer. The film will part of the program at 2014 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival next month (Nov. 7 through Nov. 9 at the Roxie Theater) and premiered at OutFest in Los Angeles in July.
While I was able to live an ordinary life, it was never without fear. That fear permeated every aspect of my life and for that reason, and I truly believe that reason only, I was previously unable to achieve happiness and fulfillment. Fear keeps you from maintaining healthy, honest and open relationships with other people. Fear keeps you from pursuing career goals in any realm except the ones where you can be as anonymous and as unobtrusive as possible. I have suffered with depression and low self-esteem. Many times I just wanted to give up and wished I could just disappear.
But there is a spirit inside me that just has not let me give up, and connecting with a national community, on satellite radio and online, had really lifted me. It has taken me many years to identify and truly tap into this spirit, but I am learning.
As I started this journey and began to actually meet more people, I have been truly shocked at how little gays and lesbians know or understand the trans experience, let alone that of intersex people. How, I ask myself, can I expect straight people to understand trans and gender variant people, when so few in the LGB community understand us?
So this is where I want to begin, with the LGB community. Over the last couple of years, I have met many gays and lesbians. I let it be known that I welcomed questions about my life, no holds barred, and I am so pleased to report, that without exception, these people have asked intelligent questions and have fully embraced me. This is what fuels my passion. With education and enlightenment, once ordinary people gain some understanding of the trans experience, and that of someone like me, born XXY.
I realize that putting myself out there so publicly, ready to share every single aspect of my life, could be dangerous. I am willing to accept that fact. So, ask away. Tell me what you want to know, and let's open up a dialogue.