My different life

My different life

My different life

Narrinda Niarassati

Hi, my name is Narrinda. I am an intersex person from Indonesia and I am 26 years old. I am going to tell you about my different life.

As I was born intersex, I have faced many bad experiences. Since I was a kid, I have felt different from my friends. A girl is supposed to look beautiful, with a soft voice and smooth skin. However, I was not like that. My strong and deep voice made me sound like a man and because of this my friends used to bully me. Yet, I managed to get through it. Whenever someone bullied me, I got angry and resisted. I hit them. They would then be afraid to repeat their actions.

I started my teenage phase when I was in junior high school. Coming from a village, I had to adapt to city life. The other students were elite and rich. I was so fortunate that I was one of the students at this renowned school. I was able to attend this school on a sport scholarship. I came first in athletics, running and long jump. Still, these achievements did not mean I had many friends. I was excluded and I didn’t know many people there. My appearance was different and I was sad because my friends laughed at me and made fun of me. I became quiet and alone. I thought about quitting school, but I didn’t because I thought of my parents. Although I kept facing bad treatment at school, I never told my parents about what was happening. I kept it to myself. I survived and continued making achievements in athletics.

I became more involved in an athletics club and I had good friends there. No one bullied me or looked at me differently. On the contrary, they were all kind and friendly to me. It made me feel so happy doing the daily exercises. I was a completely different kid. I was quiet at school but a very cheerful kid at the club.

When I moved to senior high school, my situation did not change much. Nevertheless, at that moment, I had several close friends who accepted my condition. Early on in my time there, I could not tolerate people who bullied me. I would punch them right away. But, as time went on, I got used to it and ignored them. I became stronger and didn’t care too much because I had friends who supported me and cheered me up.

Then graduation day came and a whole new world was waiting for me. I was afraid and didn’t know what to do once I left school. I no longer saw my friends. I was alone again. Would I ever meet good friends who accepted me the way I am? This question kept haunting me.

Before I talk about my current situation, I have two stories that I want to share which I will never forget. When I was in junior high school, I had dengue fever. I was taken to the hospital. During the treatment, the doctor noticed something different about me: my genitals looked similar to male genitalia. The doctor advised me to have a further examination to determine whether I am male or female. The doctor examined me after I recovered and was ready to check out from the hospital. I had an ultrasonography test. My parents and I didn’t understand what was happening. We followed the doctor’s suggestion. She poured some liquid on her hand and said, “I will observe from the anal canal because you are too young to have a vaginal observation.” My parents and I just nodded. She inserted her finger repeatedly into my anal canal. I said that it was painful but the doctor asked me to bear the feeling and relax. After that, she gave me the sonogram and told me that I was a girl because I had a uterus. 

The second event happened during senior high school. I had a biology teacher who noticed my physical difference. One day, after the biology class finished, I was asked to meet her in her office during break time. I thought that I had a problem with my biology lesson. When I came to the teacher’s office, she asked about my physical difference. She asked about my menstrual period and my heavy deep voice. She told me to check my condition to ensure whether I was a girl or boy. I was offended by her statement. I said that I already had an examination and the result stated that I was a girl. I immediately left the office and, after that, the teacher never spoke of it again. I will never forget these two experiences.

After I graduated from senior high school, I worked at a shoe factory. It was another new world that I had to face. I did my tasks and had several friends the same age as me. However, we were not close. I was happy enough that I could work and earn money. However, it did not go well—people always see me differently because of my intersex body. I became one of their jokes. I cried but they still bullied me and laughed at me. My supervisor noticed this but didn’t care at all, as if nothing was happening. This happened twice. It first happened when I was still a new employee and I didn’t know anyone yet, and then it happened again not long ago. I recently decided to resign from the company. I couldn’t bear this situation anymore.

That is my life story of living as an intersex person. There are very few positive experiences because people always pull a strange face when they notice something is different about me. Difference is not a reason to mistreat someone. Treat people well no matter how different they are. Embrace, be kind and give equal treatment. Everyone deserves that.

This piece is a translation of the Indonesian text – Hidupku yang berbeda.

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