​Cast aside at birth for being intersex

“I have been searching for my parents all my life. I was abandoned by my parents in the hospital I was born in — the rural hospital in Nkayi in Zimbabwe. I was born part of a triplet, but they left me and took my two brothers. I think they abandoned me because I was born intersex, because I was the only one they left behind. It’s been 39 years now, but I’m still trying very hard to find them, because I don’t have a family.

“I grew up in an orphanage, where they just assumed I was a girl so they gave me a girl’s name, Thandiwe. But I identify as a man, especially because I don’t have any breasts. Growing up here was very hard. The other children were always laughing at me. So, going to school, I had very few friends.

“I lived at the orphanage until I was 17 years old. I went to college, where I studied electronics and sound engineering.

“I have a partner. We’ve been together for almost 12 years now — but it was very hard for me to open up to her at first. In fact, I could be intimate with her only after fours years together. But now I am happy I allowed myself to open up to her. She really understands me. She’s my everything. She brought me love I never had before.

“Being intersex can be very lonely. I wish I could tell all other intersex people that they are not alone; that there are many of us out there. I also just wish more people would understand that we, as intersex people, are human beings – real human beings.” —Malume Ngwenya, activist with Intersex Advocacy of Zimbabwe, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian

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Carl Collison
Carl Collison
Carl Collison is a freelance journalist who focuses primarily on covering queer-related issues across Africa
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