My name is Nelly Samz. I am from Mombasa and I identify as intersex.
As an intersex person living in Kenya, we go through a lot of challenges especially in terms of education, employment and in interacting with other members of the community.
Growing up, one of the many challenges I faced was having to wear the school uniform. People expected me to dress in a certain way and my choice of clothing seemed to be an issue for many. I had to even change schools because most of my school mates were my neighbours. The society treated me as an outcast and a curse.
My mother was a rock. She tried at different times to educate the people in our community even though her efforts fell on deaf ears. While she is no longer with us, I will forever appreciate the effort she put in loving and defending me regardless.
The society today is making me live a double life because they don’t believe an individual can be born with both genitals. I currently live with people who expect me to get married. They do not understand me even though I know who I am. It can be very frustrating and sometimes I feel ashamed and less than human. Still, I want people to know that people like me exist and that God created us this way. I did not create myself and so they should accept us the way we are. As a follower of Islam, I also find it hard during prayers. Even though Muslims believe that intersex people exist, we are excluded from leading prayers and from leading small groups.
While I have accepted myself as an intersex person, I still have questions. Sometimes I ask myself “who am I?” because I am not a woman and I am not exactly masculine. Also, people from my community make me live in fear with some of the remarks they make. Some of they claim to want to cut my penis so they can see if I can give birth. I get worried by those remarks because I know it can actually happen.
I want the government to educate people on intersex issues and also put measures to defend the rights of intersex persons whenever their human rights are been violated.
I will also like to urge my fellow intersex persons to accept who they are. We need to come out in our numbers to make the government take action. It can also be a way to help those who still don’t know what steps to take to acceptance. Visibility will help them know and that they have people like them and should not live in hiding.
For those raising intersex children, remember children are gifts from God. No child needs to be secluded or thrown away. the baby is not a curse but a great gift from God and God has a reason for that. My mother stood by me and fought the community to understand me. fight for your child and do not allow anyone to infringe on their rights or yours simply because you gave birth to an intersex person. For the fathers, accept your child and do not punish your wives for giving birth to an intersex child. Also, talk to your children. Do not run to the doctors to help you do away with your child’s genitals. Let the child grow up and make the decision on their own because you might do away with what the child will identify with in future. Let them decide by themselves.
My hope is that the community sees us as humans and not a curse. The only difference is that I have two and you have one; apart from that, we are the same so treat us with respect and respect our basic human rights.