Searching for me …
By BEA IS
*This story was shared exclusively with Brújula Intersexual, if you want to publish it in another place, please write to us to ask authorization to the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Before starting, I clarify that I don’t remember specific dates, only the age I had in each memory I shared.
Sharing these memories is like diving into the deep waters of the sea, cold and murky waters, a place that nobody would like to enter.
From the moment that the opportunity to share part of my history passed through my mind, I always felt rejection, because remembering my past means feeling a deep pain. Which I didn´t want to experience again. Now I’m determined to do it. Since after reading so many stories from other people like me, I’m aware of the vital importance they have for every one of the readers, especially for other intersex people who are going through an experience similar to mine.
I don’t have many memories of my childhood. Just some photos: moments of life and happiness captured in a paper that portray the idea of a united, happy, prosperous family, where everyone are smiling showing their joy.
I almost didn’t even begin to write, but I feel the tears surrounding my cheeks. All the memories come to my mind at once. I will try to organize them.
I was born in Peru more than 20 years ago. I don’t know exactly what happened at my birth. I only know that I was assigned a girl. Nobody ever told me that my body was different from other girls. The few times I tried to talk about this with my mom, was quite uncomfortable, she didn’t know how to respond my questions. She didn’t have the proper information to guide me. It was something that I discovered little by little.
As I said, I don’t remember very much from my childhood. I just had a few photos from that time. However, I can visualize my childhood. I remember playing on the white sand under a hot desert sun, collecting snails and chalk. I remember been a very lonely girl. I had very few friends, usually neighborhood girls. I remember playing with Barbie dolls as well as with marbles. I had tremendous speed while running and strength. I usually used my strength against my sisters when they wanted me to return home after playing in the street and I didn’t want to.
As a girl I wasn’t very feminine about my physical care. I didn´t care about my appearance. I just wanted to play. I was quite restless at school. I didn’t like to wear a uniform, so I just wear the clothes I wanted. I was outgoing, dominant and challenging. The almost absence of a father, and the intermittent presence of my mother – because she worked hard for her three daughters – I think was the reason why I was quite independent with what I wanted and with what I did.
It was one of the many nights of my childhood, in which I began to have other kinds of sensations. This happened when I was around 9 years old. I felt things I had never noticed. I liked girls more and more, and I developed curiosity about sexuality. Secretly I began to experience that my body gave me pleasure. I didn’t know why. I only woke up to a totally new world, a world to explore.
Certain things happened to me, and I was able to discover more and more about this new thing for me. I realized I liked girls, and then, at 10 years old, I remember I also liked a boy, but all this was an illusion, the classic childhood love, feeling butterflies in the stomach. I knew that I liked girls, but I saw this as something bad. I hid it, or at least that was what I tried.
Until that age, everything was normal for me. But I think my world collapsed when I started high school, at 11 years old.
It was another atmosphere. I totally changed my way of being. I became a very shy, quiet girl. I felt silly, and I wasn’t even a good student. I believe that this part of my life really affected me in a bad way. I noticed several changes in my body. My body was very different from other girls. I had to wear the damn skirt school uniform, and at that age I developed a considerable amount of hair on my legs and face, so this was my hell, I felt that I had no escape. My body didn’t develop like the other girls. I didn’t develop breasts or hip. I knew something was “wrong” with me. Something was happening to me. While my classmates modeled their skits and their school uniforms, I only tried to cover my body as much as I could. I felt that I looked silly… I couldn’t do anything but face each day, each year … I faced bullying from many of my classmates, mostly boys.
In addition, I didn’t get my period, something that seemed strange to me because most of the girls in my classroom did. I wait for my period year after year – despite how painful they said it was – but never arrived.
I walked with my head down. I didn’t want to be seen. Every day for me was a torture. The good thing was that I didn’t fail any year of the high school. I didn’t want to prolong my suffering.
Every day after school I went straight home and locked myself in. I didn’t want to go out. I neglected so much of my physical appearance that when I attended a church group to make my first communion – at the insistence of my family – nobody wanted to sit next to me, all of them looked at me despicably. So, I didn’t want to back to this group.
The rejection from other people hurt me, hurt me deep, and made me feel terribly wrong.
They were quite painful moments in which I found a refuge: The Internet cabins. At the beginning I just waste my time every day. I just wanted the day to end. I felt alone and vulnerable, I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I didn’t have any kind of help. I keep asking myself ¿what am I? ¿who I am? And why I had all those changes in my body that I couldn’t understand? I came to hate myself. I wanted to commit suicide. I hit myself. I became a wild teenager. I hated the world. I ran from people, avoided them. I lived immersed in my own world, disconnected from reality.
At age 16, having already finished high school and still immersed in my own world. I began searching the internet for other people like me. I just thought that there should be more people like me. Since I was never assisted by a doctor regarding my physical development – besides I had a fear that other people tried to look at my body – I didn’t know how to seek for help or where. Then I started searching the Internet for certain physical sex characteristics of my own body, and I found a handful of disordered and useless information, and I said to myself: It is not possible that I have all those diagnoses. So, I stop searching.
At this age, I was totally convinced that my body was unusually strange, since in school we could see the usual genital forms, bodies, and physical changes in men and women during puberty. Particularly I didn’t feel that my body looked like male nor female.
So, at age 18, I connect with the real world. And I call it that way because in my previous world I was only aware of my own suffering, fighting against my own demons, and I was alone … without anyone. I didn’t see more of my life than just that, my own suffering for being as I am, and all the pain left by all those mockeries and bullying I received from other people.
When I awoke to life and stopped concentrating only on myself, I saw my mother fighting, fighting to get ahead, fighting my bad behavior, and fighting alone. And I felt great pain for having left her alone for so long.
I woke up to a new world. I knew that I had to help my mother and my family. I started with my personal care, that made me want to go out and I enrolled in a church group for my confirmation. It was a vital step, since I found a lot of warmth and acceptance, something I hadn’t experienced before.
I started studying and started working for a company. In all that time, my self-esteem regained strength. I empowered myself. Life was a challenge for me, and I had plans for the future. Until then, I hadn’t found anything that help me with my big question: Why am I so different from other women? I am a man or a woman? What was I?!!
Occasionally, I suffer bullying related to my physical differences, and that hurt me, that opened the previous wounds, but I tried not to give importance to this situation. I always walked with a smile. I felt good but tried not to involve in a love relationship because for me that didn’t exist. I didn’t see myself with a partner, never with a man, but neither with a woman. I planned a life only for me and my family, but I always wondered: what am I?
At 22, I decided to start a university career in Argentina, and I wanted to leave my country with the tranquility of having a more ‘normalized’ physical appearance. For this, I agreed to a series of appointments in a laser hair removal clinic. My aim was to get rid of my leg and facial hair. I felt that by doing this, I would feel freer, more normal. The results were painful because I couldn’t get rid of my leg and facial hair, but the worst was that the laser treatment caused severe burns on my face. I was admitted to intensive care in a hospital with intravenous treatment. My recovery was slow but good. I couldn’t expose myself to the sun light and I had to take many medicines. It was a very difficult time for my family that carried the pain with me. I still apply creams to improve the damaged areas, which now represent the memory of an unnecessary treatment to feel “normal”.
At 23, I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to start my studies. The surprise was bigger than I expected. But I still didn’t forget my big question. I kept searching until I found a group of people who had certain sex characteristics similar to mine. I contacted the group administrator and told her about myself, she told me that I had a different diagnosis from the other people in the group. She told me that I had to see a doctor to know what was happening to me, which until then I had been avoiding.
At that time, I already discovered many diagnoses associated with variations in sex characteristics. I kept searching, until the administrator of a group of people with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH) became interested in my search and empathized with me. She also suggested that I went to the doctor. She told me about the medical specialist and medical test to be done and I started to investigate about it. She was very helpful.
One afternoon, I remember I found a web page where I found a nice story called: “Pipo y Pepo”, the information they had was very related to what I was looking for. So, I contacted via mail with them, it was a long wait, but it was worth it, GrApSIA was the association with which I managed to contact. The first person I could talk to was Brenda, who is now a great friend, she gave me her support and understanding, and I was part of that beautiful family through which I met Brújula Intersexual.
I thank infinitely to each person I spoke with during my search, since this was one more step towards what I so longed for: to meet people like me. When I could meet and engage in a conversation, even if it was only by voice call, it was great for me. I had so much to ask, it was my opportunity!!! I felt closer to the people who would really understand me, those who lived the same experiences in their own flesh, and perhaps much more.
Thanks to Ariel, a great friend who is part of GrApSIA, I contacted a Urologist with whom I started medical studies in a hospital in Argentina, which was a great challenge, since I was afraid that the doctors would see my body. However, it was the only way to get the answer to my questions. I was able to know that the cause of my physical differences was that I was born with non-salt wasting congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). The CAH, among other things, causes high testosterone levels, which causes girls to be born with genital differences, and in adolescence, some of us don’t grow breasts, don’t get our period, or having more body hair than considered “normal” for a woman, etc.
After being diagnosed with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, the doctors offered me a “cosmetic” treatment that included cosmetical genital surgeries and medication, which, after evaluating it, I decided to reject it. Since over time I have been accepting and loving myself as I am, and what is more important: I love myself. I also rejected the treatment for health reasons, because I feel very well and healthy, although I know that I must do some medical exams periodically to see that everything is in ok.
Currently, I’m happy to be able to connect with other intersex people, and at the same time be able to share my experiences with them. I gained self-confidence. I’m more and more sociable. I’m currently in a relationship with a beautiful woman, breaking the paradigm that nobody would be able to love me as I was.
I have learned that life is a constant fight, and the most valuable thing we have is our present moment, with our family, our partner, and with anyone who guides you to good. The only thing that matters is that you live each moment as unique.
The world can be a very dark or a very bright place, you are the one who chooses the color.