Break the silence, raise intersex awareness!
When I was a child, I always wondered if there was something wrong with me. I kept thinking and thinking about it but I never had the answer. Let me tell you what happened.
Well, I was born like a typical female—I mean female genitals—but when I was two or three years old, my body started to change. My clitoris grew, pubic and body hair appeared, and I had a great growth spurt. In short, I entered puberty at that age. However, that puberty wasn’t the one that typical girls usually experience but more like a male one.
My parents took me to the hospital but the endocrinologist told them not to worry about my situation. He said everything was perfect with me and the process I was going through was completely normal, so I didn’t get any medical care for it and I became increasingly virilized over time.
Since my body started to change, my parents have always insisted on hiding and silencing my intersex nature by telling me not to talk about it to anyone, not even to my sisters. This made me think that there was something wrong with me, that there was something to feel ashamed about, but I didn’t understand what it was and the reason why I had to hide it.
I had a lot of doubts about my body, about my appearance, about my genitals. However, I never talked about it—I wasn’t able to, I wasn’t allowed to, it was forbidden. I wondered if I was a boy or a girl because my genitals didn’t look feminine, I didn’t look feminine, and everyone used to say—not to me directly, but they used to gossip—that I looked like a boy. I didn’t really care about their comments but I knew I was different. I knew I looked different and I needed to find the answers to my questions.
Years later, I decided to go to the hospital so I could know if there was something wrong with me. After months of uncomfortable check-ups, at the age of 15 I was told that I had CAH (congenital adrenal hyperplasia). I finally felt satisfied because I had the answer I was looking for, something that explained perfectly what I had gone through. Doctors said I was abnormal though. They said that my body needed to be ‘fixed’ so that I would not feel embarrassed when having sex. I’d never felt ashamed about my body until I was told I wasn’t a normal person.
I think all intersex people have to deal with different difficult situations that endosex people don’t deal with and we have to deal with ourselves, with those horrible feelings and thoughts we have about our bodies, those thoughts and feelings caused by our doctors’ prejudices. From the time we are born, doctors tell our parents that there’s something wrong with us, that our bodies need to get ‘fixed’, and that we shouldn’t know the truth about ourselves. Therefore, our parents get influenced by those prejudices and keep our intersex variation secret from everyone, including us.
In my case, the doctor never told my parents to keep my body variation a secret. On the contrary, he said everything was fine and I was completely healthy, but my parents decided to keep it in the shadows. I think they wanted to protect me from bullying and discrimination, from people’s prejudices and from society. But that’s enough. It’s time to say ‘STOP IT!’. It’s time to stop the silence, it’s time to get rid of prejudices, it’s time to know the truth! This is the moment to change society and live our lives. It’s the moment to live the truth and nature of our bodies!
This piece is a translation of the Spanish text – ¡Rompamos el silencio! ¡Visibilicemos la intersexualidad!