INTERSEX: A SHADE OF NATURE

INTERSEX: A SHADE OF NATURE

Originally published on accesstogoodhealthinitiative.com

In our early ages, we are taught that everything comes with an exact opposite: black and white, good and evil, liquid and solid, men and women etc. We’re told that humans come in two ‘types’, two genders, two sexes. That’s it. But as we mature and begin to experience new things, we come to the realization that everything doesn’t actually have a direct opposite. Everything comes in different shades. It is left for us to understand and accept those shades of nature.

This becomes a bigger issue when one is born in an African socioeconomic culture where everything not understood becomes evil. At some point, it was witchcraft for a woman to have twins, a taboo for a woman to have beards and a total calamity for a boy to act like a girl or vice versa. These cultural defaults make it difficult for the typical African man to adjust or accept something he really doesn’t understand. This leads to countless number of discrimination and abuses upon people who nature decided to make a shade of something else.

It might not have been easy for those wishing to represent a different gender from the one naturally allocated to them because they feel they are in the wrong body. But, what if the body you were born in doesn’t neatly ‘fit’ into being biologically ‘male’ or ‘female’? What then? Such people are referred to as intersex and they face the worst kinds of abuse and humiliation.

Intersex people are those whose anatomy and/or physiology isn’t typically female or male. Instead, intersex individuals often have a mixture of sex related traits and are a unique biological blend of characteristics. Intersex conditions occur in 1 out of 1500 births and this phenomenon is becoming a common condition as the years go by. In most cases, medical intervention cannot correct the condition and intersex people will have to live that way throughout their lives, most times in seclusion. Sometimes intersex variation is identified at birth, due to ‘ambiguous’ genitalia, but in cases where the external phenotype is unaffected, many people do not know their biological differences until puberty or adulthood. There are different forms of intersex conditions:

In some societies where surgery is not an option, the stigma surrounding intersex, and the consequential discrimination, has so much violent outcomes. Most intersex people end up taking their own lives to avoid further humiliation or stigma.

Director of SIPD Uganda, Julius Kaggwa recently commented that: “In many African countries, the traditional way of dealing with perceived sexual ‘abnormalities’ has largely been staying silent – and wishing them away through various kinds of traditional rituals, which often meant killing the intersex infants.”

Hate crimes, such as the killing of 17-year-old Muhadh Ishmael, born with both male and female genitalia, in Kenya two years ago are still very common.

Recently in Nigeria, a boy in Delta State was utterly humiliated and asked to display his female genitalia to be videoed and ridiculed. This video was posted all over the internet with the caption ‘Boy With Vagina Caught’, like it was a crime to be born intersex. No one understood it because the subject of Intersex is not a common term. The boy in the video was raped and yet humiliated by his neighbors for having female genitalia. Such actions should be frowned upon.

We therefore call for the following actions from the Nigerian Government:

  1. We call the government to take action to protect intersex persons in Nigeria and promote the knowledge of the condition.
  2. That the perpetrators of such offense should be arrested and justice be granted the innocent boy.
  3. That the rapist should be arrested and handed over to the police for some legal action to be taken.

In recent years, the UN has begun working to condemn violence against intersexual people and to support their human rights. For this to happen, we need to first understand that being intersex is a natural phenomena caused by variation and chromosomal abnormalities just like albinism, eye colors etc, and should not be used against those who unfortunately fall into that shade of nature. Intersexuality is just part of humanity’s natural diversity. Surely, individuals’ have a right to decide the fate of their own bodies.

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4 Comments

  1. Mandy
    September 10, 09:27 Reply

    Man hates what it does not understand. And that fact is never more true than with the world’s attitude toward sexual minorities. It’s truly sad, especially about that intersex boy that was beaten. To undergo the trauma of rape and then a beating… Nigeria sha. Where is our humanity? 🙁

  2. Foxydevil
    September 10, 09:40 Reply

    I saw the video and I must say I was appalled. If I was there, i wouldn’t care if the public would devour me, I would drag that innocent child out of there.
    People are getting crueler and meaner by the day.
    My heart bleeds for that innocent child, this will be one psychological trauma that would hunt him for the rest of his days.
    Calling on the government won’t solve anything, the government of this nation are less reliable than third hand China products.
    I think an independent body should be set up to help spread awareness and sensitizatize the masses.
    The few good ones among the masses should be called upon to help sponsor this program. Parents and guardians of inter sex children should also be educated and made aware that their children are only victims of genetic mishap and are not cursed or sent as a punishment to them by witches from their villages.
    A lot of things need to be done to help spread this message .We’ve been rebroadcasting and sharing the video for over a week now and the so called government is yet to react, even blogs didn’t carry it, because this isn’t a news about bobrisky (who I love BTW) or the glamorous toke, this is the one that appeals to human sensitivity and sort of emphasises the point we’ve been hammering upon , that some people were Just “born that way ”
    I really wish I can reach out to that boy somehow, more than anything right now, he needs an adult that can hold his hands and tell him everything is going to be OK.

  3. Delle
    September 10, 11:27 Reply

    It was the most horrifying video I’ve had the displeasure of watching. Nigerians abhor that which they do not understand.

    I actually heard them call him “witch” and all what not. You call him “witch” like if he truly was a witch, he would let you do those things to him.

    And a lot of our vexation should go to the perverts we have in this country. There were so many unnecessary questions thrown at that child. Telling him to spread open his legs! Like what the fuck??

    There should be a body in charge of things like this because it was so sad, so sad what happened to him because of something he can’t control. We need to help ourselves and ASAP too.

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