Challenges intersex persons face in relationships

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Gender icons for males and females. [iStockphoto]

Humans are socialised to interact with people through the lens of gender, which is arguably inseparable from sex.

Gender and sex are inextricable, however broadly; the former refers to socially constructed characteristics of women and men while sex is different biological and physiological characteristics of men and women in form of reproductive organs and hormones among other features.

Granted, in the realm of human diversity, intersex individuals represent unique and often misunderstood aspects of human biology. Their stories are ones of resilience, courage and pursuit of acceptance in a society that frequently struggles to comprehend their existence.

Intersex people have anatomies that do not fit into a male or female sex binary. It is in this context that I decided to interact with some members of this community to understand their lives.

Meet Alex Wamboi, assigned female at birth with the name Lexy Wamboi but later changed his identity to Alex (male). Alex grew up feeling like something did not quite fit.

Cultural beliefs got him confined in the house because he was seen as a curse. His parents did not conform to the typical expectations of femininity, feeling a disconnect between his assigned gender and his true identity.

Since childhood, Alex lived an isolated life only having limited interaction with relatives. His upbringing was full of challenges including name tags which at that point, did not affect him as it did when senses set in.

From birth to around 16 years, Alex was raised as a girl, it was not until adolescence set in that he discovered the term “intersex” and realised it resonated deeply with his own experience.

At that point, body changes had started setting in, the male physique became more visible than the female.

“My voice became hoarse, I had as well-developed chest hair, beards and I could even have manhood experience yet at the same time, I had started menstruation. This hit me so hard because any time I could interact with my cousins, they were either boys or girls but for me, I had both,” says Alex opening up on his dilemma at that particular confusing stage of life. 

At that point, he dropped dresses and embraced big pants. “I had started being attracted to ladies but couldn’t approach them because of fear of rejection,” reveals Alex. Overcoming his fears, at 25, he started dating but ended up being embarrassed.

“I had moved from my village to Nairobi in search of greener pastures. I had completely transitioned to a male figure and had gotten a very beautiful lady who at first seemed to be in love with me. One day, we organized for a night out not knowing it would be the end of our relationship; it was a day of doom for me,” painfully recounts Alex.

He tried to explain to her about his condition but she could not understand. He says the woman screamed for help when she noticed that he had two reproductive organs. Disappointed and heartbroken, he thought of changing his name from Lexy to Alex hoping that society would accept him which is yet to happen.

“I have tried more than four relationships but all collapsed when they learnt about my condition, some even ended up blackmailing me. I have spent over Sh70,000 just to silence a lady from posting my photos online,” discloses Alex, who says he has taken a break from relationships a

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