Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hermaphrodites within Monterey County...

Monterey County LGBT members Sarah Meuse (left), Nickolas J. McDaniel (center) and partners Ashley Simmons and Danielle/Kyson Willis (right).

Nickolas J. McDaniel was born with a birth defect: “My physical sex was female,” he says.

It was 1972 in Salinas, and McDaniel’s family had strong, Southern Baptist faith and conservative family values. His mother, who worked retail and other odds-and-ends jobs, was delighted to finally give birth to a daughter; she already had two older sons. But while McDaniel’s family looked at him and saw a little girl with brown curls and dimples, McDaniel’s body seemed foreign to him. So at the age of two, standing in his crib, McDaniel prayed for a penis.

“I’d seen them pray,” he remembers, “but I never really understood it.”

It must be like asking Santa for a gift, he thought.

“I knew what I was lacking: what my brothers’ had, their physical bodies. That’s what I asked for so that my parents would love me.”

Today, the 36-year-old sits engrossed in Brisingr, book three in Christopher Paolini’s adventure/fantasy series about dragon riders. His short brown hair recedes at his temples, and a goatee frames a frequent, wide smile. The therapist-in-training, who lives in Salinas, wears a black t-shirt that reads, “What if the Hokey-Pokey is really what it’s all about?” and baggy basketball shorts – he’s got to wear lose-fitting pants as he heals from his most-recent “bottom surgery,” which transitions his physical body from female to male.

Salinas was a tough town to grow up in, and kids were cruel. McDaniel wanted to join the Boy Scouts and play football. He dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot or a defensive end for the Raiders when he grew up. He looked like a tomboy, and the other kids didn’t know what to make of this masculine girl.

At the age of 6, McDaniel began cutting himself. He thought he could peel back his skin and people would see the boy trapped inside of a girl’s body. He started sniffing airplane glue and became bulimic. He rarely changed his underwear because he didn’t want to see the offending female parts. Then he stopped showering, too.

If you don’t change or bathe, you don’t have to see what’s underneath.”

It got worse when puberty hit. “That’s the day I became a thing. An It. Like a chair or a table. Something that was OK to kick or spit on or abuse, physically and mentally.”

In the spring semester of McDaniel’s freshman year of high school, his female P.E. classmates gang raped him.

Story Continues...

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