In a world where the issue of gender is always up for debate and controversy, where individuals are in confusion over what gender to identify with, where an individual born with obvious male organs would rather identify as female just because “he feels like it” (and I haven’t mentioned any name), there are others that do not have the luxury to identify as a particular sex but are faced with the dilemma of growing to be both sexes.
Intersex people, otherwise known as hermaphrodites, actually exist. Intersex people are individuals born with any of the several sex variations like female gender with moustache or beards or chest hair or worse with ambiguous male genital and vice versa with the male gender.
This condition though seen as absurd is a normal condition in the animal kingdom. A great number of snails and fishes are hermaphrodites. This condition is being medically explained and should not be seen as a spiritual mishap. This condition is divided into four categories namely: XX Intersex, XY Intersex, True Gonadal Intersex, and Complex Intersex.
The XX Intersex is an individual with the internal features of the female gender i.e. the chromosomes and ovaries of a woman but with the genitals of the male on the outside. This condition can be attributed to the exposure of a female fetus to excess male hormones i.e. testosterone before birth.
See also: More Love for Intersex People in Nigeria
Other causes are Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (pardon the medical terms) but it is the absence of an enzyme needed by the adrenal glands to make the hormones but the body at the same time produces more androgen, a type of male sex hormone causing male characteristics to appear inappropriately.
Aromatase Deficiency: The excess availability of the enzyme called aromatase that converts male hormones to female hormones. This is usually noticed during puberty when a child raised as a girl begins to take on male characteristics.
The XY Intersex is the condition where a child has the chromosomes of a man but the external features of a lady. This can be as a result of the improper formation of the tested, deficiency of the necessary enzymes needed in the formation of the testosterone or the malfunction of the receptors to the male hormones. These conditions are just the most common but are prevalent in our society.
What they aren’t…
In this part of the world where everything is being spiritualized and seen as a manifestation of the handiwork of #Villagepeople, children with this condition are often stereotyped, stigmatized and subjected to inhumane treatment over a biological mishap which they have no control over.
Just as sickle cell children are often seen as “Ogbanjes” in the Yorubaland but are in reality the resulting effect of terrible decisions of negligible adults who threw caution to the wind and got married even though it was advised against. This situation cannot be attributed to the negligent actions of their parents but it is not a spiritual mishap too.
In a video interview with BBC pidgin, some of these individuals narrated their experiences, the neglect from their parents and relatives, the severe beatings and their personal struggles.
Iyabo Abade, a former female footballer who had to quit her dream as she grew into the struggles of being an intersexual individual and the realization of the fact that she’s different from her counterparts. She presently has decided to undergo the rather expensive surgery to be identified as a man.
Nigeria should take a cue from Kenya who has become the first country in Africa to recognize intersex people and has gone ahead to collect data in its national census this year. This will undoubtedly encourage inclusivity and liberalization of the legal and policy environment. Whilst this might in some way be a back door opening for people with other sexual orientation and gender identity, nations can put in appropriate measures to ensure limitations.
The Government, Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), concerned private organizations and individuals should advocate for the legal recognition and protection of these individuals and also provide financial resources to help fund intersex surgical procedures.
The general public should be reoriented on the dangers of discrimination and segregation as these individuals are suffering from biological mishaps. Parents should be more attentive to the change around their children and as such seek medical opinions before concluding that such a child wishes to identify as a homosexual.
They’re totally different from the transgender community and shouldn’t be treated unfairly. Receiving and treating fellow humans with love and acceptance with an open mind should be encouraged. The world is changing and so should our orientation.