Give meaning to your life, despite everything
My name is Paloma. I’m 30 years old and I’m from the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. I’m the only child of a single mother, an extraordinary woman who, despite her poor education, took good care of me. I have always said that my mother is one of the most beautiful gifts that God has given to me, and I hope to have her with me for many years. I was born with an intersex body—in my case, I was born with genital differences and I have congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Fortunately, I didn’t have surgery and my body is intact. Unlike most women, at puberty I didn’t get my period, my breasts didn’t develop, and my voice deepened. Because of all this, I have always suffered discrimination.
About 10 years ago I felt a bit confused by the appearance of my body, my way of seeing life and my sexual orientation. Why am I like this? Why me? I wondered what was the purpose of continuing to exist in a world that is so cruel to people like me or to anyone who is considered different. At that time, I felt like a freak, I felt that I had no value for society, and that the only one who thought I was a valuable person was my mother. I longed with my whole being to have by my side a person who would love me for who I am and who would treat me with respect and dignity, like any human being should be treated. I wanted to know what love was.
I’m a very private person and it is not common for me to share with other people that I was born with an intersex body. In my family, only my mother and some uncles and cousins know about it. Fortunately, they don’t question me about it or about my sexual orientation. They just watch and keep quiet and my intersex variation is never a topic of conversation in my family. This has been good for me because I don’t have to explain myself to anyone.
About 7 years ago, while I was searching the internet for answers about my intersex body, I found a web page called Brújula Intersexual, and I immediately began to read all the information and intersex stories that were published in it. I identified with everything I read. I decided to send some questions to Laura Inter, the founder of Brújula Intersexual. She answered me and so I asked her another question, then another and another. I asked her so many questions. Then we talked on the phone and I told her about my experiences so that she could guide me and explain to me, in her own words, why my body was so different. She responded to all my questions and, over time, Laura became my confidante, the person I trusted the most. Talking to her helped me understand myself in new ways and answered many questions that I hadn’t been able to answer myself.
Thanks to Brújula Intersexual, I have met other intersex people through social media and I have also talked with them by phone and text message. I also have contact with allies of the intersex community. All these conversations have helped me see life in a different way and I no longer feel alone—there are many people like me who face a daily struggle to feel okay and be the best version of themselves.
A large part of Mexican society is very conservative and very closed-minded. Currently, I suffer from job discrimination because of my appearance and at times this has been very difficult. It is common for my co-workers to make comments or jokes referring to my physical characteristics, without realising that their comments are annoying and hurtful. Sometimes, I feel the urge to defend myself and do the same to them, but I don’t do anything in order to avoid having problems at work. Fortunately, in my work they don’t know that I am intersex. If they knew, I’m sure their doubts, comments and their bad taste jokes would be more constant. The only thing they know is my sexual orientation and that I have a wonderful relationship with a woman, and it’s common for them to make uncomfortable and invasive comments and questions like: ‘How do you both have sex?’ ‘Would you like to be a man?’ ‘You look like a man.’ ‘Have you had sex with men?’ Even a female co-worker asked me: ‘Would you like to have sex with me?’ Just because I like some women does not mean that I like all of them!
That same co-worker, since she found out about my sexual orientation, has repeatedly talked about me with other colleagues and tells them that I am ‘macho’, that my way of dressing is not appropriate, that I should dress more feminine, that I don’t carry a purse, and that I don’t use makeup. All of these comments affect me. It hurts me to realise that these kinds of people exist who don’t care about the feelings of others and who don’t know how to put themselves in the shoes of someone else. It is not easy at all to live with this situation every day, but I always try to be the best version of myself.
Despite everything that I have had to live through and the discrimination that I suffer daily, I feel that I am a blessed person because I have found other people like me who experience similar situations. I no longer feel alone because I’m part of the intersex community with whom I can talk to about my experiences. They understand me because many of them go through very similar experiences and we feel empathy for each other.
Today, I have decided to speak up and express myself whenever necessary, regardless of what others say or think about me. It’s time to remove all ties with people who comment, question and think they know best about my life. I’m an intersex woman who has the right to be happy and to be respected. No person has the right to judge another for who they are.
Be happy and enjoy every moment of your life!
This piece is a translation of the Spanish text – Dale sentido a tu vida, a pesar de todo.