My wish for Intersex Awareness Day…
From the time I suspected that I might be intersex (1997) and the time I actually learned the truth (2003), wrapping my head around the fact that I could be intersex was a huge deal. Growing up in Mississippi, I my experiences were that females grew up, married and had babies… males, grew up, got jobs and took care of families. There were no women who lived a life of no kids by choice. I grew up in a world where people were married and had families. Little did I know that my experience would ever be different.
Although I learned that I was different from other girls when I was 11 (my mother told me I couldn’t have children or ever have a period), I never considered that the difference would be XY chromosomes. However, between 1997 and 2002, that was four years of transition for myself. I was rethinking life, relationships, and my future. I had to examine my life and what it would mean no children or possibly ever getting married. I was having to consider what it would mean to be alone; after all, who would want me. However, during this time I was also coming to terms with my sexuality. Same sex attraction was not fashionable or even widely accepted in 2003. My future, upon reflection, felt bleak because I could not see a world where someone could accept or love me and my difference. Additionally, if I were gay and living in Mississippi, I did not see a future for someone like myself.
To be honest… this time was really depressing for me. I wanted to not be in this world where I did not fit in. The depression and pain was unbearable to the point of considerations of taking my life. Upon trying to prove to myself that I was in fact a female, I attempted to have sexual intercourse with male partners that ended in disaster, shame, and self-loathing. The pain and agony I experience because I wasn’t sure what type of body I had really struck down any self-esteem or confidence I could ever have.
So what changed? After finding the truth of my intersex status, I went to a website that had a yahoo group for people like me. I emailed the moderators and asked to join and told them my story. I was accepted and began a course that would save and change my life forever. Additionally, the country was in deep conversation about same sex marriage. This conversation was on the headlines of my local college paper. I decided to speak out, so I wrote a letter to the editor telling about people like me with XY chromosomes who had married for years someone also with XY chromosomes, but society treated XY females as females, so society accepted these heterosexual unions. The point I tried to make was that we should stop worrying about what was between a person’s legs and focus on a person’s right to love.
The experience after that led to my being connected to the campus Gay-Straight Alliance. Finding a first relationship, graduating, and moving home. I eventually fell in love with the person I would marry and celebrate a first illegal wedding in Mississippi and a second legal ceremony in Asheville, North Carolina.
All of these experiences have shaped who I am and where I am going. Thanks to my finding my truth, my life is on a path of happiness and purpose that I did not see before finding my truth and connecting with other intersex people like me.
Therefore, if I have one wish for Intersex Awareness Day, it would be that people get connected to intersex groups who need that support. To help individuals, parents, families, and allies get connected to intersex support groups, so…
(1) the parents can be educated and informed about intersex and differences, and
(2) children don’t have to learn their truth in some mysterious way, and they can start understanding and accepting their situations, learning how to navigate their own lives in ways that may be different from their peers, and being at peace with who they are.