I have reached a point in my life where I feel comfortable enough to share my life story. I’ll start by saying that sex is on a spectrum. Female, male, gay or straight, pink or blue, we were taught to see this as a binary. Now, we are realizing it’s more like a kaleidoscope.
Here is a quick biology refresher for you. Women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y, right? Well, usually. We used to think it was pretty straightforward, but we see more combinations than that in real life. Even for people with just two sex chromosomes, anatomy can vary wildly.
Like me, for example. I have XX chromosomes but I was born with ambiguous genitalia. It happened because there was a broken genetic “recipe” for making cortisone in my adrenal glands (the glands on top of the kidneys that make various hormones and add them to the blood stream). So, the adrenal glands, while trying to make cortisone, can make an unusually high level of other hormones that are “virilizing”. That is, they can make XX embryos have larger than average clitorises, or even a clitoris that looks rather like a penis, or labia that looks like a scrotum, like in my case.
As a consequence, I was assigned male and I grew up as a boy till my puberty, when I went to the doctor because things weren’t developing normally. I was starting to have little breasts, my skin was getting lighter, and everything was just exactly opposite to being a normal boy.
So, I was referred up the chain of specialists, who set out to find what was wrong with me.The doctors ordered some tests, and when they got the results back, they were confused because my chromosome analysis said I had XX chromosomes, which is typically associated with being female.
That was the moment, when I realized I was intersex, which is somewhere between the sexes.I have to say that was a relief for me, knowing that was intersex, because for so many years I couldn’t explain it and this proved to be, the first step towards me finding myself.
Maybe you will be confused like I was with all this information. But before you start wondering, please let me clarify one point. This is that being intersex is not the same as being transgender. Transgender people typically have bodies that correspond entirely to one sex and they need to deal with gender identity. Whereas intersex people have to deal with their biological characteristics.
I just represent one case of many Intersex cases. Intersex people have some combination of both male and female, whether that’s in their external anatomy, their internal reproductive organs, their hormone levels, or their DNA. Intersex also includes people who don’t have any particular aspect of the opposite sex, but their anatomy just isn’t quite typical for what you would expect.
People find out that they’re intersex in a few ways. Some people find out – well, their parents and their doctors find out when they’re babies, and they notice that their anatomy just isn’t quite right. Other people find out during puberty, as in my case, when puberty goes in ways that they didn’t expect.
After having consciousness of my anatomy and of what I wanted for my life, I decided to live my life as a girl. And it was such an amazing experience, but I have to admit it was not easy. I needed to deal with my biological characteristics and I went through a genital surgery and a hormone therapy. Now, I’m happy to report that everything turned out well, and according to any medical standard, I was fixed, but fixing is different than healing, and healing rarely comes with a roadmap.
And that’s why I speak up. It’s difficult to define ourselves because we are told not to talk about our bodies. I remember my doctors, friends and family telling me that I didn’t need to talk about it because it was not necessary or evident. And I did that for a long, and I did feel I was the only one.
I do not want other people to keep perpetuating a circle vicious of shame and stigma, that we can break out of. After having some life experiences and knowing that there are other people like me, that are feeling confused and wondering if they could have a normal life. I can say, yes! It’s nobody’s fault. It’s nobody’s choice. You are worthy, you’re loveable, your body and the way nature made you are beautiful, and you can do of you whatever you want. It’s a happy intersex woman fetching and grabbing dreams who is talking to you.
Being intersex is about as common as having red hair. In the United States, it’s also about as common as being Jewish. So, where are we? And how have so many people never heard of us? In our personal, professional and public lives, we are deep underground. We’ve been ashamed of it, so we don’t talk about it. But we can’t be invisible anymore.
Look at me and I allow you to criticize me because of the way nature made me. I do know the physics of judgement. I know that, when we treat other people as not normal, we’re probably treating ourselves as not normal. When we think that we’re not good enough, we think that other people aren’t good enough, and then we start thinking that other people see other people as not good enough.
And that spirals into worries of people seeing intersex people, wondering if we are male or female or both and if we like woman or men? Wondering what will happen when a colleague notices that I’m intersex or when my partner realises I was raised as a boy.
These fears are real, and I have faced them in my own life, but we are miracles, nature is amazing and I just simply can’t describe all that I have learnt from this experience. Now, I’m the person that I am thanks to this.
We can remember that all of us, male, female, intersex, are not things to be fixed.
We are people to be loved and if you believe that you’re a person to be loved and treat yourself with kindness and patience, then you’ll treat other people the same way.
Don’t tell me I’m brave or courageous because I talk about it. I just was kind with myself, I loved myself… putting kindness before any other attribute and willing to help others.