Friday, April 17, 2009
Intersexed: Atlanta Police Officer Darlene Harris
In front of approximately 20 people at the Midtown nightclub Halo Thursday night, the Atlanta Police Department’s LGBT liaison, Officer Darlene Harris, shared for the very first time in a public forum the journey to discovering being intersex.
“What actually happened is the young lady I’m seeing said, ‘You know, it’s not normal for you to not have a regular cycle,’” said Harris, 35, who formerly identified as a lesbian but now identifies as intersex.
But Harris had never had a menstrual consistent period and didn’t think there was anything wrong. Besides, Harris said, “You know a woman who wants to have it every month?” bringing several chuckles from the queer men and women listening.
Harris’ girlfriend, without telling Harris, made an appointment with a gynecologist early this year. Harris dutifully kept the appointment and when the gynecologist learned Harris had never had a regular menstrual cycle, she decided to run several tests to determine, among other things, Harris’ levels of estrogen and testosterone.
When Harris returned to the doctor’s office to find out the lab results, the doctor expressed concern because most of the test results came back abnormal.
“The doctor pulled everything up on the computer, and I see lots of red lettering. I didn’t know what it meant, but she said that each of these tests came back in red and for her that’s a problem,” Harris said.
The tests revealed Harris’ testosterone levels were much higher than the range for the average male. At first, the doctor worried Harris may have tumors. She began months of medical testing with an endocrinologist that eventually concluded with a chromosome test. That test revealed Harris had the XY chromosome — the male chromosome.
Harris does have ovaries and plans to have a hysterectomy — what she termed a “full cleansing” — to stave off potential future health concerns, rather than take hormones.
Being intersex, Harris explained, is when “your body is in direct contradiction to what your insides say. You may have a female body, but inside you are male, or you may have a male body, but inside you are female.”
at 5:58 AM