Caught in The Middle written by Tom Henderson Dallas, Oregon newspaper
|Caught in the middle|
Story by: Tom Henderson
Date Published to Web: 6/26/2002
FALLS CITY -- Gerald Donais of Falls City grew up in a nightmare.
Actually, he grew up in two nightmares.
The first was filled with pornography. His family, mostly an uncle, used him to produce child pornography for the Japanese market.
The abuse began almost immediately. The results were life threatening.
While Donais was still a toddler, he had been so violently wounded that he was taken to the hospital. Doctors made a remarkable discovery.
He was a boy.
Up until this time, everyone thought the child they called "Geraldine" was a little girl.
Doctors discovered Donais was intersexed, what used to be called a hermaphrodite. The child had both male and female sexual organs.
Given Geraldine's female chemistry, she was literally born a female with some male internal organs.
Doctors often feel uncomfortable just leaving intersexed children be. They feel compelled to pick a sex for the child.
In Donais' case, the doctor decreed he would be a boy. He surgically altered Donais accordingly. Geraldine became Gerald.
Although he has lived as a male ever since, Donais said there is no changing biology. He remains 70 percent female and 30 percent male.
His family kept the secret of his biology from him, Donais said. Besides, they were more interested in his ability to generate money through pornography.
Donais will share his experiences with television viewers this summer as a guest of talk show host Montel Williams. Gerald and his wife Cheryl Donais taped the "Montel" segment in August of last year.
The show will air at 9 a.m. Friday, July 12, 2002 at KPTV Channel 12 in Portland.
"This is the first ever program on intersexed people as adults rather than children and infants," Donais said.
The couple enjoyed meeting Montel. He seems to genuinely care about his guests, Donais said. "A lot of the other shows are circuses."
Donais has also wrote "Not Just A Touch" -- about his life. He hopes to be able to get it in print soon.
Masculinity carries a lot of weight in American society. Publicly admitting you are 70 percent female might strike some men as more than a little embarrassing.
Donais feels the importance of his message outweighs the concerns of his personal privacy.
"We have a message to get out," Donais said. "Whatever your affliction, you can use it to help someone."
Besides, he said, people care too much about gender roles and too little about human beings.
"Sex is not a gender," he said. "Sex is an act."
Cheryl and Gerald Donais have been married 24 years. Gerald credits Cheryl with saving him from the pitfalls of growing up in an abusive environment.
Her unconditional love saved him, he said. "I was a mixed bag of nuts until I was 20."
"He was wandering around knowing something was wrong," his wife said.
Cheryl Donais didn't know her husband was largely female until the two of them stumbled across the medical evidence. Not that his biology matters, she said.
"I wouldn't care if he was purple with pink polka dots. He's a good person."
The couple began a crusade to uncover Donais' secret history. It was not a journey for the faint of heart.
With the help of the Internet, they were able to trace 30-year-old child pornography in Japan. They unearthed literally hundreds of sickening photos of Donais as an exploited child.
"Pornography doesn't just vanish," Donais said.
They went on a similar quest for medical records. Most were destroyed. That was -- and sometimes still is -- common procedure with intersexed children.
That's another reason Donais wrote the book and went on "Montel." He wants to change the attitude of both society and the medical community.
Intersexed people are OK, Donais said. They will naturally gravitate toward one gender identity or another. The problems they face are not biological. They are societal.
It is the way other people treat them that hurts and even wounds.
"Our goal is to educate society," Donais said.
"The secrecy is what makes you ill."