You won't want to miss this intimate interview with YouTube star Cassandra Bankson on living with two vaginas (yes, we said two)! Our friends at MIMI got the scoop on Cassandra's experience dealing with this very rare condition.
The running joke in my family is that I'm twice the woman. Although, when I'm on one of my three-week periods, and having mood swings, my mother jokes that I have two assholes, as well.
I was born with two vaginas, a condition called uterus didelphys. In a world where "more is better" you would think two is going to be better than one, right? Not always.
Growing up, I kind of always knew I was special — I had a fascination for life, but with that came a host for insecurities. I questioned just about everything and that coupled with a short-fused attention span, it was clear I was unique, however we didn't know just how special until very recently.
It started with a visit to my doctor for lower back pain which prompted some urgent scans and tests of my kidneys — as it turned out, the lower back pain was just muscle cramps, but the scans also revealed that I was missing a kidney, and "gifted" with a dual set of reproductive organs. Congratulations?
I left the doctors office with more questions than answers — was I a twin gone wrong? Did I need a kidney transplant? Could I ever have children if I wanted them? Am I more susceptible to ovarian cancer, or could this somehow be related to my chronic acne?
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Later that day, I was sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table, staring at a photo of my 7-year-old self on the fridge, as my eyes started to well up with tears. Who would've guessed that little girl staring back at me would be gypped out of a kidney? Moreover, why was she cursed with having a double body part that, quite honestly, I resented in some regard because of all the ailments that come along with having a vagina?
Sitting in my doctor's office, while she read me the results, was one of those moments where I felt detached from my body — like I was watching myself in a movie. Then, a weighted thought shoved me back into my chair: I am the same person I've always been. That little girl is still me. This condition has never bothered me before, so why should it now? I've really never known anything different. Medically, I came to terms with some of these things, although most of my questions were still unanswered.
You wouldn't think an internal condition like this could affect an outward body image, right? Wrong. I suppose I've always kept myself amused with my insecurities and navigating intellectual battlefields long before the diagnosis, but on dark evenings, when I was alone with my thoughts, there was no denying that this was another line item to add to the list of "not good enoughs."
I've always felt that I'm too much — too much to handle, too overwhelming, too loud, too crazy, too spontaneous, too different. And, here we go again. Logically, I knew that people couldn't see my affliction to judge me, but at the same time it almost confirmed something negative in my own head: I was "too much" which simply made me "not enough."
Like a comedian, I used humor to cover and conceal pain. I spent my whole life joking with my family and friends, making myself and this condition the punch line. The first car I ever bought was coined the "Magical Vaginal Mobile" and I had the audacity to seek out "MAGVAJ2" as my license plate.
Being able to joke about the gravity of it all, helped me come to terms with it a bit more. And, making it a laughing matter aided in turning it from a negative into a semipositive. While I still don't know how this will affect my future, I am able to use it to make those I love laugh.
I've always hated my "lady parts," even from a young age — it was unfair that my brother and cousin could pee anywhere, while we were camping, but if I had to, the whole family had to turn back. Due to a mix of low self-esteem, the media's portrayal of women in society, and a series of sexual traumatic occurrences in my teens, having a vagina (let alone two) has always made me feel void of my own image and identity, like an object as opposed to an overcomer.
I would love to blame my reluctance to love and a somewhat miserable relationship with sexual contact, due to those circumstances, but even before that, dating was always strange.
Whether it's because of a deep rooted fear of guilt, instilled by religion, self-confidence pressures of not being "normal" or being a good enough person to love, or even from my own conclusions drawn from my parent's relationship, I don't know. But, having relationships has always been a difficult mental and physical hurdle for me. And, this condition didn't help intimacy conversations or the potential list of complications — talk about awkward topics of discussion for a new couple.
As upsetting as this conclusion was to accept, looking at it now from a different perspective, I suppose this would also prove who's worth keeping around — the person who will stick it out through the awkward conversations and the complications. If someone truly loves me, they will want to be with me whether or not I have kidney issues, whether or not I have the option to have kids, and be there for me through all the days in a month that I will be a moody, hormonal mess.
Speaking with different medical professionals has certainly eased some of my concerns — thank goodness my one and only kidney is functioning perfectly and in the event that I decide to have children someday, there are corrective surgeries, In Vitro, or other ways to work around it. I've also always been open to adoption, so there's hope that this condition doesn't turn off a potential partner if it turns out I can't have children.
As horrible as having my period, for what seems like every day of the month, as frustrating as my emotions can get, and as complicated as the future may seem, there are some positives to having two vaginas.
Even if it's only figurative, I like to hold onto the analogy that I am "twice the woman." I'm a strong believer that the hardest thing in life to overcome is yourself, and this is an example of a territory which I am currently navigating. I'm learning to overcome life's obstacles, love myself in every aspect, and take this opportunity as a chance to help educate others, not just about this condition, but further break open and inspect the stigma of how the world views women and their vaginas.
While the vagina is a beautiful organ in which we, as women, have been given the option to create life, it's also a source of mystique, power, and emotion — no matter what complications or negativity may surround it.
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