Loving an intersex person
Kaleb has been my partner for more than six years and is a person who was born with an intersex body.
Since we met, she has always been honest with me. She told me that her body didn’t fit within the social idea of a typical woman. I didn’t understand at that time. She told me that she was afraid. She thought it was possible that I would abandon her as soon as I realised that. What was the difference?
Believe it or not, my answer was: “What is ‘being a woman’ in these times?” I wasn’t discouraged by this. Honestly, I love androgynous people. I love Erika Linder, Tina Jittaela, among other androgynous-looking girls. Kaleb fit what I love. The softness with which she takes me in her arms, the rudeness with which she defends me when someone hurts me, the courage to face an unknown world in which she often suffers rejection and discrimination for not conforming to the idea that many people have of what should be a “woman”.
You see, since I met her, she has always moved between female and male. Her physical appearance is very androgynous, and at first glance many people find it difficult to know her gender. She has physical characteristics considered male like wide shoulders, a beard and abundant body hair, but also has physical characteristics considered female, such as breasts and a high voice. She also has other variations in sex characteristics that can only be known in intimacy. She even sometimes uses male pronouns to refer to herself and that never bothered me. Quite the opposite, I understood and liked to play with pronouns.
Over time, we became closer and closer to the point of knowing enough secrets of each other.
I must clarify that this is not a cheesy love story. It wasn’t since the beginning and it’s more than something sweet and lovely. It was a journey of self-knowledge for both, walking hand in hand with the person you love most. It wasn’t easy to discover who she was because she has always been repressed. All her life she carried the stigma of “you are not normal”. But what is normal? It was a question we asked ourselves frequently. “Normal is what is accepted in one place, but it isn’t in another place,” we arrived at that conclusion as we travelled this journey together.
What was it that she was ashamed of? The abundant beard she has? Please! I thought her beard was so beautiful! Was it the hair that covered her entire body? I love it! It’s like having a teddy bear: cuddly, cute, somewhat grumpy, but always with me.
Her pride was her strength. I feel protected with her by my side. I didn’t care how many times she broke things, she just couldn’t control her temper. But with time and patience she managed to control it sometimes.
She didn’t know why her physical appearance was different from other women. This was something she constantly questioned and caused her discomfort. So, one day I said: “I’m tired of trying to fit in to this society! Let’s just be together without waiting to fit in. The truth is humanity is diverse and multicultural. Just as the Japanese are tired of being compared to the Chinese, we must not compare ourselves with anyone else!” She laughed at my silly comment, but I know it helped her, and together we moved on with our journey. I supported her in her search to discover what made her so different from other people. She believed that by discovering the whole truth, this would be a reason for me to leave her, but it wasn’t. On the contrary, I really want to be with her.
Those who work to “cure” people from “diseases” have enormous prejudices towards the diversity of human bodies, and their opinions and prejudices increased my curiosity. To seek more. To understand. Not to stay only with their opinions but to continue in the search for a second or third opinion and other sources of information. And here it was that our journey began to have a direction. To clear those clouds that were often presented to us, to fight for visibility in all possible places, not to be victims but to show that despite our differences we are all human beings. We didn’t learn this in a good way – we learned it badly, with falls, climbs and fights.
You might think that by having a partner with an intersex body and with a non-binary identity I am idealising it, but it is not so. All human beings have good things but also bad things. Due to the insecurity and repression she had experienced all her life, in addition to poorly managed hormonal treatments, Kaleb began to become someone who I couldn’t even recognise. She felt so much sadness and anger. Her past experiences created a being with fears and insecurities and I know that no matter how hard I try to support her to feel better and change, those demons will stay there.
Repression? We live in a society where two women cannot be together without experiencing discrimination, much less that someone who is intersex can be accepted to exist. They are silenced by medical institutions trying to “fix” their bodies from birth, removing in childhood the parts that they think are in the way of upholding the perfect standard.
I don’t deny that her past experiences somehow can justify Kaleb’s anxiety attacks, as well as the insecurity or jealousy she came to feel. As I said, this isn’t a cheesy love story, this is real. This is what real people are, many of us have been hurt, and we act in different ways because of those wounds.
Kaleb and I are together for a reason but our relationship has never been like the typical love stories you see in the movies. However, here we are, telling the world that you can love and you can be loved. You can accept and love another person with all their faults. No matter if your loved one lives in another city or if you live together. No matter if you both have wounds.
“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry