The cost of societal oblivion

I wouldn’t speak of my condition with anyone, avoid interacting with my peers and not step out once I returned home. 

Published: 05th May 2022 07:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th May 2022 07:02 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: I was only 10 years old when I bled for the first time. I am born a man, so my mother thought maybe I had been hurt, but it was period blood in reality. I lived in Panruti, Cuddalore and the place was not very developed then so everyone was shocked by this. The news got around and everyone thought I was a trans person. They would call me derogatory names, throw stones, mud and water. I struggled a lot and, as a result, began avoiding people.  

When I was a little over 11, I produced semen and that’s when I was sure that I was, in fact, a male who bled like a female. Amma told me that I had to act like a man. Many people will talk of me and try to convince me otherwise, she informed. I couldn’t marry a man or woman. My life could not be like that of others, she had said. I grew mentally depressed, having trouble with studies and finally taking to homeschooling. Where societal problems troubled me, there were health issues that were catching up. I was experiencing severe leg pain, was unable to pass urine standing up and had to sit down and do so. Eventually, my brother got a job in Chennai, and we moved here with him.

A rollercoaster ride
While my brother worked, I dabbled in various fields, gaining an interest in acting. I started as a voice actor but my health conditions wouldn’t allow long work schedules and so, I transitioned to anchoring. I had an agreement with amma — I wouldn’t speak of my condition with anyone, avoid interacting with my peers and not step out once I returned home. 

I was given the opportunity to do live interviews with doctors when I was working under my guru, Shanmuganath. That is what changed my life. I had many questions about my condition; I had known little about it then. 

I was going through many issues. As a menstruating man, you can get a fungal infection on the genitalia because of the constant moisture. Along with that, the hormones at the time contributed to the chest enlarging and rashes. Furthermore, my urine issue had exacerbated and was proving to be problematic for my general health. 

As I spoke to the doctors, I began asking some of my questions to understand these problems better. One doctor, in particular, was shocked to hear about me and called me for a scan. After the CT scan, we realised that I had a uterus, the fallopian tubes of which were connected to my prostate. We performed a surgery to cut this connection and while everything was fine for a month, the side effects began soon after and remained for a long time. This is also when we found that I was a 46, XX Male. 

My immunity lowered and I got malaria and viral fever, lost 30 kgs and my calcium count fell to 9.90 mg. Thyroid, cholesterol and blood pressure also began affecting me. I suffered hairloss, even from my beard and moustache. And the fungal infection also did not improve. Extreme body pain took over and suddenly, later, I went from 40 kgs to 103 kgs. 

When a coworker saw my condition, he introduced me to Dr L Ramakrishnan from SAATHII who was the first person to inform me of the term intersex. It took 40 years of age, for me to know that I had to visit a urogynecologist. After many other ups and downs, ignorance and discrimination with the medical fraternity, I found the right doctor who had studied in the UK. He told me that the removal of part of the uterus was wrong and thus, my joint pain could never be cured. The most important aspect that attributed to all others, however, was my urine condition. 

The wall to cross
To avoid this mishandling in the next generation, we need to bring about awareness of various genders/ the LGBTQIA+ as early as class 5. Currently, many schoolchildren think there are only two genders — men and women. But taught of this early, they will not be shocked or resistant to their peers who belong to the LGBTQIA+. In the same vein, till this day, society looks at intersex people as trans people. No one knows what it is to be intersex, even the medical fraternity largely. 

Change is also needed in regards to the bathrooms. There are bathrooms for men and women only. When I was younger and menstruating, I had to go to our ground to deal with it. We also didn’t have commodes in the boys restrooms then and so, if I had to pass urine, I had to go when everyone was done with their business. If there was another bathroom — whether for intersex people or trans people — we could go in peace and convenience. 

These are the two issues that we need to urgently look at in the education system. There are many intersex people in the society right now that don’t even know who they are. It is important to raise awareness for the next generation.

Know more...
46, XX male is a rare clinical condition where clinical signs may be heterogeneous, but external genitalia appear to be completely virilised in 90 per cent people. 

(As told to Sahana Iyer)



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