“Posting this photo was hard for me to do for the fear of rejection, judgment, and discrimination. Writing this post, putting it all together, and then pushing share was nerve wracking. I was the most anxious I have ever been because I didn’t know what the response would be.
After a few days of the post being up, I received nothing but love and support from friends, family, and my following. To me, this was the most genuine feeling I could ever have; it was a feeling of being loved and accepted for being myself. Of course, there’s always going to be negative feedback: ‘You’re a freak.’ I felt sick and sad at first about opening up. But I chose not to let it affect me, bring me down, or silence my voice. This is just a little part of my story, and I would love to share with all of you.
Being intersex for me is a little part of what makes up who I am today. I learned about intersex at the age of 11, when a family member that was a nurse brought it up at a family gathering. She informed me I had female bone structure, and as far as she was concerned, I was a girl. Since I went through a late puberty, I had noticed some different changes in my body than what I learned about in health class at school. Later, my mom had a talk with me about the topic of intersex and the LGBTQ+ community, which I hardly knew about.
A little back story: I wasn’t always raised by the mom I have now. I was adopted at the age of 13. Before this, I grew up in small town with a family that was really religiously close-minded. It was hard and tough being told you have to live your life a certain way. Like, ‘Grow up and marry a woman and have children and be very masculine.’ Trying to be masculine was really hard for me to do because I looked like a girl with short hair. It was difficult to put my voice into a deeper tone than I usually talked. At night when I was little, I would pray to God I would do all the things a man does IF only he would make me a normal girl in my next life. And if this couldn’t happen, then I would ask to just be a mermaid! One sibling was constantly telling me to ‘man up.’ I’d just get frustrated and cry. It always made matters worse.
Growing up I didn’t have the freedom to explore who I was or who I was meant to be. At times growing up, I wished I was normal. I wished I could be what my family wanted me to be. As a child, I didn’t get the opportunity to know things like fairytales, witches, or Harry Potter, or even things like the amazing LGBTQ+ community. I was constantly accused of being gay and/or having a demon in me. That as my body changed, it was evil to have both male and female anatomy. That’s a real mental health kicker for a little kid. All I could see ahead of me was conversion therapy. I think if I’d had the freedom and love to know things like ‘what is intersex’ or even just an understanding that the world is such a diverse place, I would have found myself earlier. It’s always hard to open up. It’s scary and uncomfortable. I have a hard time trusting sometimes because I have built walls up around me. It’s hard to let people in. Those walls are there because of the rejection, fear, and abuse I’ve survived throughout my life.
So, at the age of 13, something happened: I was adopted. I got to move away and start fresh. It was one of the best things that happened to me in my life. I truly needed a fresh start. I finally felt I was in a safe place and I was loved unconditionally for myself. Later on after I was adopted, I found out I had XXY chromosomes and ovaries. Finding this out made me so happy because it answered questions I’d had for so long and it was like finding a big part of me I didn’t know I needed.
After a lot of doctor’s visits, the topic of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) came up as I was going through a rougher puberty than the average person would go through. The doctors had a talk with me about getting on HRT and how it could help me out a lot by giving my body the right amount of hormone levels it needed to be healthy (side note: hormones play a big part in your body.) So, I got on HRT, and I am so much healthier and happier with my body today because of it! For the first time, I felt whole. Later on in life, I got a surgery to help stabilize my hormones; because of this, I am no longer on HRT now that my body is producing and supplying the right amount of hormones for my body.
For me, I’m a girl with XXY chromosomes and ovaries, but without a uterus. Also my bone structure/DNA is female. One of the most popular questions I get asked on the daily is, ‘What’s in your pants?’ or ‘What does it look like?’ I think this is one of the rudest, most outrageous questions to ask someone because we are not defined by what’s in our pants. Intersex people can be born with both parts and true friends, family, and partners won’t care what’s in your pants because it doesn’t make up who you are as a person. At the end of the day we are all deserving of love, equality, and acceptance. No matter what our sex characteristics are, how we identify, or what’s in our pants.
I want you all to know intersex can be so different for any individual, and it’s nothing to be fixed or changed. It comes down to the person and what they want to do with their life. Intersex is not something wrong with your body. It’s a part of who you are, whether it be big or small. I wanted to be open with my following and with the people in my life, so I started blogging about my life and things I have faced or gone through. I got some hate, and it was hard for me because sometimes people would say I was lying or misleading people about myself. I was angry. They didn’t have all of the facts. They didn’t know what it was like.
I personally believe it shouldn’t matter if you tell someone before or after you get to know them and feel safe, because it’s such a personal and vulnerable thing to tell anyone. Sometimes after I tell people I get asked so many different questions about surgery, or about personal details, or this and that about my body – it makes me feel like I’m a science project. I believe it shouldn’t be about that, or what’s in my pants. It should be about who I am as a person.
I have faced challenges throughout my life. I’ve been bullied or called a freak at school, with one of my siblings being one of my tormenters. I had one teacher say my mixed hormonal state was in collision mode – whatever THAT means. Meanwhile at the same school, another teacher embraced me for who I am and listened. She gave me worth. And I love her dearly to this day.
And yes, I am a survivor of mental, physical, and even sexual abuse. And it has led me to have trust issues in my life. I still have nightmares and it has marked me. When stuff like this happens to anyone, it takes a long time to heal and recover. I had a big breakdown when I was 17 because of everything I had buried and blocked out. This was one of the hardest, scariest, and most emotional times in my life. But with the help of counseling, meditation, surrounding myself with the right people, and creating a space of safety and love, it became so much easier to heal myself. I had gone through life not knowing who I was, why they did, what they did, and thinking it was my fault because I was too feminine or gave off the wrong vibe or looked weird. I know now it wasn’t my fault and they did not take anything from me.
I know in life I have not always had the best of connections with family members due to me being me. Some don’t accept it because of their beliefs and some choose not to recognize me for who I am today. And then there are family members that do love me, support me, lift me up, encourage me, and push me to be my best. And that right there is what I believe unconditional love is.
Life has definitely given me some struggles, whether it be because I’m intersex or a thousand other things. Before knowing about being intersex, I struggled with anxiety and depression to the point where I couldn’t even get out of bed. I still struggle with anxiety, but it has gotten so much better.
At the end of the day, I am an intersex woman, but that’s not all; it’s just a little piece of the puzzle that makes up the bigger picture of me and who I am. So, I’m open and honest with people I date or befriend, because it’s just me. I want to share my story and give a voice to the intersex community to help educate, raise awareness, and to show people it’s okay to express and accept yourself, no matter what. I’m not going to live under a title, I’m going to live as the woman I am. So, be who you are because you are beautiful, wonderful, and amazing just as you.
Everyone goes on life’s journey, and there are always bumps. There are always crazy turns in the road along the way. I have gone through some experiences that have changed me for the better, and I always try to look at the good in life. Sometimes acceptance can be hard – not just for others, but for yourself. It was a hard thing for me to do; it was hard to accept myself the way I am and love myself for who I am. For a long time, I put myself into categories and labels about what I can do or what I couldn’t do because I am intersex, but this shouldn’t control my hopes and dreams and my accomplishments in life. I am more than just intersex. I am Gean. I am proud of who I have become and I am excited for the future.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Gean. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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