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 and gender are on a spectrum. Female, male, straight, gay… we were taught to see this as a binary. Now, we are realizing it’s more like a kaleidoscope.
As you may already know, women have XX chromosomes and men have XY, 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 as they were supposed to, I began developing more like a female than a male.
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, 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.
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 went through a genital surgery, a hormone therapy, and transitioning from one gender to another is a big challenge when in this society do not belonging to the norm represents a desanvantage.
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.
This year I came out as an intersex woman. It’s only some months ago that I started being more open and I am really happy; people have reacted really well and I do not stop receiving messages of admiration and love.This proves that we can stop perpetuating a circle vicious of shame and stigma by educating people.
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, you are beautiful and you cand do with you whatever you want.
Being intersex is about as common as having red hair. 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.
I know fear. I faced it several times in several forms and ways. And I know fear has a concrete power of keeping us from doing and saying the things that are our purpose. I understood my silence serves no one, and in this society, being yourself can be a revolutionary act. Speaking of the greater good, I think we commit ourselves to telling truth to building bridges to common ground.
What was a vulnerability time ago for me — now it’s the birthplace of love, of authenticity. 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.