Usualising intersex – I don’t need normalising

Anick is the founder of Intersex Advocates & Friends, and is working to share his story and journey of intersex acceptance. For Pride month, he spoke to us about his experience coming out, and normalising intersex.

True Stories

My name is Anick and I’m 23 years old. I work with lots of organisations as a Creative Producer, Researcher and Advocate for equality – oh, and I’m also intersex. It’s one of the least discussed topics in society, and I’m one of the people trying to change that.

“Intersex” is an umbrella term

It’s used to describe people that fall outside of the traditional biological concepts of what we know about male and female bodies. Intersex is a matter of sex which focuses on a person’s anatomy. It’s different from gender, which is about a social role and identity. It’s also distinct from sexuality, which is more concerned with who a person is attracted to. Some people have intersex characteristics identified at birth. Others may discover this during puberty or later in life. Intersex children are brought up as either male or female, and the decision is often made by health professionals.

Being intersex can feel isolating

I identified as intersex from birth, but was frequently left out of decisions about my care. This made me feel like there was nobody else like me. As I grew up, those around me noticed how I didn’t fit in. There was something “unusual” about my body, because I didn’t look like the other little boys and girls. Intersex people often undergo medical procedures which aim to “fix” or “normalise” their bodies. For me, that took the form of countless surgeries and hormone treatments.

I felt like an alien being experimented on

Neither myself or my family were offered any kind of support. This made things worse. I grew up believing other intersex people didn’t exist, and thinking that my existence was wrong. I developed an extremely unhealthy view of my body and felt like those choices made for me were in my best interest. One day I hope we live in a more inclusive and accepting society. I often wonder what my life would have been like if they waited until I could voice my own opinion, before they made decisions on my body.

I just wanted to stop hiding

I will never forget the moment when I told my best friends I was intersex. I don’t really know how I was expecting them to react, and was a nervous wreck. I just told them I needed to “tell them something important”. In the slowest possible way I explained my truth to them. It was an incredibly big deal for me. After two decades of believing, and convincing myself, that I was an unlovable freak, I finally developed the courage to utter the words “I am intersex” to those around me.

My story can help teach others

I armed myself with knowledge that I was born this way, and made online friends who had similar experiences in life. I gathered people at my home, after telling them I needed to talk. It was enjoyable wondering what they were all thinking – they almost never suspect intersex. Most of them had never heard of it before, but it was a beautiful moment, albeit filled with tears, hugs and lots of confusion.

Treat it as though it’s not that of a big deal

It’s a very important personal moment in your life, but nowadays, when I come out, I tend to just throw it into the conversation. Of course, not everyone will be positive about who you are, and you’ll probably be coming out in one way or another for the rest of your days, but it gets better. How people react will tell you all you need to know about them.

The intersex community is wonderful

I have made friends that I regularly keep in contact with, collaborate on projects with and just vent to whenever I’m feeling particularly low. The advice I’d have for anyone who has an intersex person in their life is this: find acceptance in yourself, before trying to seek it in others. Coming out is a personal choice, and it is never a requirement. Whether you’re ready to tell the whole world, or just want to find some others to talk to – there are people who are ready and willing to listen. Instead of normalising intersex bodies; let’s start to usualise them.

Next Steps

  • Intersex UK offer advice and support on intersex issues.
  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By

Updated on 28-Jun-2018