As a little girl, Taylor Muhl always wanted to dress just like her friends.
She remembers that, for some reason, she was obsessed with asking her mother if she had a twin sister, and she would ask all the time, even though it was clear that Taylor didn’t have a twin.
But as she started joining dance classes and performing with other girls her age, she realized there was something different about her—a big patch of skin on the side of her torso, split down the center, was a distinctly different color.
“[Every doctor], they chalked it up to it being a birthmark,” she said.
And she didn’t want to be different; she desperately wanted there to be someone just like her.
It wasn’t until Taylor’s early teens that her supposed birthmark began to lead her to think there was something more to the story.
She started getting sick all the time, “every doctor I would go to, no one could figure it out,” she remembered.
Taylor was becoming highly sensitive and seemed to be allergic to everything and anything.
But it wasn’t until she already went through a string of doctors that she found one that told her what it was: She was a Chimera.
When Taylor was in the womb, there were two fraternal twin eggs. But her egg absorbed the other.
“Basically it means I am my own twin,” Taylor told The Doctors.
It turned out that her intuition as a child—that she had a twin—was completely on point.
It means that Taylor has two sets of DNA, two different blood streams, two sets of immune systems.
“I have a straight line down the center of my torso,” she said, pointing out the discoloration on her side. What doctors originally thought was a birthmark really signified the “foreign cells” that Taylor had absorbed from her fraternal twin.
This led doctors to more accurately diagnose Taylor. She had chimerism, and that meant that her body was treating her sister’s DNA and cells as foreign matter it had to get rid of.
“It wants to clear it, to get rid of it, but it can’t,” Taylor said. “So, unfortunately, I suffer from a lot of autoimmune flare-ups. It affects my daily life because I am just so sensitive and allergic to everything.”
But once they were able to properly diagnose it, it made treatment possible. With chimerism, standard lab tests will come back with crazy results. Things like blood tests and DNA samples were designed without chimerism in mind—dealing with one set of DNA, but Taylor has two, so that needs to be taken into account when deciphering results.
Thank you @volition.mag for featuring me on your website today. To read my full feature about being a Human Chimera go to volitionmagazine.com Regardless some of the photos from my feature are already on my Instagram, I’ll be re-posting them to show my gratitude to the magazine. Photo @jimjordanphotography #chimeraawareness #chimera #taylormuhl
The difference between knowing this and not knowing this when looking at lab test results could determine a life-changing diagnosis.
Knowing what she has has also helped Taylor feel confident and comfortable with her own body. As a child there was a tremendous urge to fit in and be like her other girl friends.
Now she says, “In my adult years, you know you have to embrace what God gave you.”
"I Am My Own Twin" I have a genetic condition called, Chimersim. I'm a fraternal twin who fused together with my sibling in the womb. I carry my twins genetic makeup within my own body, which is the second color skin pigmentation on my torso. There's only 100 cases documented in the world. I'm on a mission to spread Human Chimera awareness and it’s link to autoimmune. _ This photo was shot outdoors in natural light, in cold weather by celebrity photographer @jimjordanphotography My twins genetic makeup can always be seen outwardly on my body, but at times it's more prominent then others. _ I felt it was important to show my entire physical demarcation because in the entertainment business there's an overwhelming amount of pressure to appear physically perfect or within a certain physical stereotype. I hope by showing my own imperfections I can inspire others who have different physical traits or who are different, to never let that stop them from pursuing their dreams, to love themselves unconditionally and to know they're beautiful just the way they are! #chimera #chimeraawareness #taylormuhl