Some of the males readings this, well, weren't exactly the quarterback of the football team. You weren't the tough guy, the cool guy, the guy who matured faster than everybody else. Maybe you were clumsy, pudgy, not too quick-witted ...
Well, imagine the guy at the far end of that scale -- what society considers "uncool" in every way. There's a significant chance he's suffering from a medical condition, and a treatable one at that. Just ask "Kevin," who spent most of his life not realizing that the traits which made him a social reject all came down to hormones and chromosomes ...
5Being A "Loser" Can Have A Medical Cause
Puberty is kind to few of us, but at least there's a point where we come out the other end, the hormones having transformed us into some kind of functional adults. For Kevin, things kept getting worse. "I developed a pear-shaped figure, I was tall for my age, I had a stammer (still have)," he told us. "I was a big, clumsy kid who knocked things over, stumbled and fell, couldn't verbally articulate what I was thinking." But Kevin's condition was an actual medical one, not merely the result of being smote by the puberty gods. As a matter of fact, they hadn't even noticed him.
The puberty gods give other deities a bad name, no matter what they're up to.
"I have Klinefelter Syndrome, which is a corruption of the chromosomes," he says. "A 'normal' male has 46 chromosomes and is XY, so that on paper, they're described as 46-XY. I have an extra X-chromosome, meaning that I'm 47-XXY ... when puberty arrives and all that testosterone is supposed to be released, for the Klinefelter boy, it doesn't happen, or happens only a little."
As a result, boys with Klinefelter syndrome tend to be less masculine-looking, with less body hair and more feminine figures, complete with (in about a third of cases) what is medically known as man boobs. They have lower libidos and are often sterile. They often have learning disabilities, or at least trouble articulating themselves and understanding others. They have motor skill difficulties, which makes them clumsy. They're less assertive, more prone to anxiety, more obedient, and more eager to please. In other words, a Jason Biggs character.
Minus getting cured after two hours of awkwardness by sex with a Hollywood actress.
But that's not that weird, right? Well, that's part of the problem. You see, Kevin only found out he had Klinefelter syndrome two decades later, when he was 34, after a nasty side effect kind of forced the issue. (We'll get to that later.) That makes him an anomaly -- not that he found out so late in life, but that he found out at all.
It's hard to detect without prenatal genetic screening, which is not routinely performed, meaning that about two-thirds of those affected have no idea. And why would they? You probably know lots of chubby, underachieving, awkward dudes. What are the chances that some genetic issue is the culprit? Rather high, as it turns out. It affects as many as 1 in 400 male births. You're about 10 times likelier to have this condition than you are to get hit by a car.
4It Makes Sexuality Super Confusing
Klinefelter syndrome is technically an intersex condition, with all its attendant gender/sexuality implications. In fact, Lili Elbe, subject of the 2015 Oscar-winning movie The Danish Girl, is now believed to have had Klinefelter syndrome. Kevin identifies as a heterosexual man, but for a long time, was all but asexual.
"I didn't feel any of the things a normal boy would feel with the onset of puberty," he says. "Because of that, I didn't really have a gender identity or any sort of sexuality. I wasn't attracted to girls, so the conclusion everyone jumped to was that I was gay, and no matter how hard I tried to deny that, the fact that I didn't have a girlfriend when all the others did 'proved' it to them. But I wasn't attracted to boys, either. I wasn't attracted to anything or anyone."
Which somehow tends to be the thing that gets people really upset.
That means everything that's a nightmare for most teenagers, thanks to the incredibly unwelcome hormones waging psychological warfare on them, were a distinct kind of nightmare for Kevin, for the opposite reason. For example, Sex Ed was "a living hell" for him. "I was surrounded by boys packed to bursting with testosterone, for whom everything was sexualized and hilarious in that manner, and by girls who were giving the boys the come-on ... and there I was in the center of all that, unable to understand why I wasn't feeling any of these (as the teachers put it) 'perfectly normal' things. And because I didn't feel it, and I was shy and awkward and inarticulate, being told by the teacher to answer directly sex-related questions was a form of torture."
Even since Kevin began treatment and this whole "women" thing started to look cool, he's only ever had one relationship, and it didn't leave him with a great taste for the stuff. "It wasn't love, because I didn't know what that was supposed to look like," he says. "I just wanted to have sex with something that didn't resemble my right hand, and eventually she let me."
Though ideally, you shouldn't be putting it to her in those terms.
Not an auspicious beginning for anyone, but Kevin's inexperience sealed the relationship's doom. It turns out his people skills hadn't caught up with his dick. "I found myself watching her as she talked, trying to anticipate what the best response ought to be, monitoring her and calculating how best to present the expected emotional response," he says. "As a result, I was on tenterhooks throughout the relationship, and the stress and the fact that she knew I was faking interest and didn't understand why undermined us further ... We split up after a particularly nasty screaming match, and I've never dared try another relationship."