Biological sex is not a binary: Breaking the myth that affects intersex lives

Right from childhood, intersex persons, especially those with visible variations, bear the brunt of the lack of awareness surrounding intersex identities.
Chakravarthy, Maya and Vinodhan against the backdrop of intersex flag
Chakravarthy, Maya and Vinodhan against the backdrop of intersex flag
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TW: Mentions of violence and genital mutilation

This article is the third in TNM’s ‘Access Denied’ series, which dives into the issues and needs of certain sections of society that are confined to the margins and denied access to the mainstream.

Sakthi SriMaya had only ever known life as a boy, until she got her first menstrual period in Class 9. “I was terrified,” she says. “I immediately informed my teachers and parents, who took me to various hospitals and doctors.” What followed for her was a horror story, featuring testosterone boosters and a surgery without her consent. “My parents wanted me to be a boy, so a surgery was performed on me. But I am a woman, I know that now. What was done to me was gender mutilation,” she says.

An intersex woman and co-founder of Intersex Human Rights India (IHRI), Maya says it took her a long time to realise she is an intersex person. There was a time when she thought she might be a gay man, she says. “Our society has gained at least a modicum of awareness about various genders and sexualities now, but most people are still oblivious to intersex variations. Even a majority of healthcare workers are not aware of the existence of intersex persons, or of intersex variations," she says.

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