"You Ruined My Reputation:" Karen"

"You Ruined My Reputation:" Karen"

"A man I rejected started a rumor that I was born a man," says Karen. "When I first heard the rumor, I was very

shocked. I tried to blow it off, but now, here it is seven years later, and they're still talking about it. The gossip has ruined my reputation." She has avoided people and reported people, but nothing has stopped the rumor from spreading. Karen has even lost a third of her income because of this problem. "People that don't even know me have been talking about me behind my back. I'm very angry."


Karen has created a Web site to dispel the rumors. It has photos of her as a little girl and her birth certificate. "Proof that yes, I was born a

female," she says.


"They're crazy for thinking that Karen's a man because she's not. People are just cruel," says Brenda, Karen's friend. "I know it hurts Karen." Brenda acknowledges that Karen has gone to extreme measures to resolve the problem, but nothing ever ends the rumors. "The Web site calls more attention to Karen than what is already out there. That's giving people more of a reason to talk about it ... When Karen stays away from work,

people know that it's bothering her, so they spread the rumor even more. Karen has lost friends because of this."


Karen's boyfriend, Bob, is angry. "I went up to one of the guys, and I said, 'This has got to stop,'" explains Bob. "Karen is a beautiful woman " inside and out."


Karen admits that she's always been more of a tomboy, but now she wears makeup and her hair down to look more feminine. "I want to start over again, somewhere new," she says, turning to Dr. Phil for help. "How do I get my reputation back?" 

"Do you think you teach people how to treat you?" Dr. Phil asks Karen.

"To a certain extent, yes," Karen says. "I first ignored the rumor when I

first heard about it seven years ago, and I thought it was over and done with, but [people at work] were still saying it behind my back."

Referring to the Web site she created, Dr. Phil says, "You might have given it legs when you did that." He explains that in his book Self Matters, he stresses the importance of knowing your authentic self " what your God-given gifts, skills, talents, abilities, traits and characteristics are. "If you know who that is, and you are secure in that, then what other people think doesn't really matter, does it?" he asks her. "Doesn't it matter much less if you truly know who you are?
Because there's no doubt. You don't feel vulnerable."

Karen agrees. "I just have a hard time not letting it bother me," she says. "Because to me, they could say anything else in the world, anything except to question my gender. That just seems like the worst thing, and that's why it's hard for me to deal with … That people would actually think that I'm a man, I mean, that's just horrible."

"They might have fun talking about it, but I'm a pretty good judge of horse flesh girl, and you're no man," Dr. Phil tells her. "Nobody's going to look at you and think you're a man. I mean it's just outrageous!"

"Well, thank you, and that's why I can't believe it's gone on for so long," Karen says.

"If you decide to start defending yourself, that will become your full time job. If you answer every story, every piece of gossip, every allegation in your life, that's all you will ever do," Dr. Phil warns her. "If you stop being who you are to start defending who somebody says you are, that becomes your full-time job."

"You're so right," Karen agrees.

"My dad said it really well. He said, ‘You wouldn't worry so much about what people thought of you, if you knew how

seldom they did,'" Dr. Phil tells her. "You need to take down the Web site. You don't owe these people an explanation. You need to get rid of that, and you need to give yourself permission to just live your life. And, if there are people out there who think something about you that you don't like, then those won't be your friends. But there will be a whole bunch of other people who will be your friends."

Dr. Phil reiterates that she can't give the people spreading the rumors power over her. "You have to decide that you believe in who you are, what you stand for, and what you do, and you just need to go forth and do it," he says. "And you have to give yourself permission to do that."

"And like you say, they may never stop anyhow, because that's just the type of people they are," Karen says.

"You cannot control them, all you can do is control you. Do not invest in this further," Dr. Phil says.

"Thank you for helping me set the record straight," Karen says.