My Intersex story

Banti Jaswal
Panel 1

Who I am

Intersex condition
SF-1 gene variation
Almost 18

They/Them pronouns
XY chromosomes

Panel 2

When I was born I had visible characteristics of intersex traits in my genitalia. I also have XY chromosomes. The doctors in India decided to do surgery to make my genitalia look typically female. The surgery involved clitoroplasty and vaginoplasty followed by a series of dilations. Today I experience the negative side effects of this surgery with soreness and a stinging pain between my legs and I have PTSD-type responses in medical settings.

Panel 3

Growing up!

I was adopted at the age of 2 from India and met my two mums and moved to America. I was raised female and always knew I was intersex. This did not really affect me until my friends started going through puberty and then I began to understand how my body was different. I was always kind of a tomboy and liked pirates and monster high dolls.

Still growing

Panel 4

I went to my first AIS-DSD Support Group (the name is in the process of changing) conference when I was about 10 years old and it changed my life forever. I do have a person really close to me in my family who is also intersex. They have always been in my life but meeting other people of all ages made me feel so at home. At my first conference, there was no one else my age, but I was still able to build connections with the teens and adults who were there. I learned other people’s stories and had fun playing games amongst other things. I keep in touch with everyone at the conference. My orchid family (what we call ourselves in the support group) has helped me make decisions about my body and support me through my journey. The next year, I met two girls my age and we keep in contact all the time. I love how I keep seeing the youth attendance grow. Now more young kids who are the age I was at my first conference have community.

Panel 5

Getting my gonads out. Unlike most of the intersex people I know, I chose to get my gonads out. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do. I chose to get them out because my voice started deepening due to my body’s reaction to testosterone. I got a blocker in my arm that sent a message to my brain to stop producing testosterone to see how my body would react without natural hormones in my body. After a year with the blocker and asking our intersex friends and doctors what to do, me and my family decided to get my gonads out. Like most intersex people, I felt pressure from my doctor to get them out but in the end, it was my choice. During the surgery it was discovered I had a small uterine structure inside me. This meant at one point in my life I was the total package (that’s a joke). Two years later I ended up getting my period.

Panel 6

I gave my first intersex talk this past year at a GLSEN conference (a national organisation in the US that works to make schools safer for LGBTQIA+ kids). I’m also a member of the intersex youth advocacy organisation interACT, and used a combination of their materials and my own to make a talk about my experience and what I thought people should know. This was a pivotal moment in my advocacy work for intersex rights and also getting into other local LGBTIQIA+ work.

Panel 7

I never wanted my period or had an option of getting it. I’m supposed to get it every 3 months to clean my uterine lining. This added to my frustration I already had with my body. This also added to my frustration with figuring out my gender identity. I already knew I was pansexual and I was starting to realise that female pronouns didn’t feel right. I decided to go with they/them and she/her pronouns. This ended up with everyone continuing to use she pronouns because they were used to that, so I now use they/them pronouns because I feel it encompasses more of who I am. For me, I believe my biological sex is intersex and I haven’t found the proper pronouns that fully represent me. All I know is my pronouns fall between they/them and she/her.

Panel 8

Going forward into the future I plan to continue working with interACT until I age out, as well as attending the AIS-DSD support group conference, graduating high school, and studying gender studies and social work in college. I really don’t want what happened to me to happen to other intersex babies. I’m still figuring things out and my journey isn’t over yet, but here is where I’m at so far.

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