Updated: Nov 23
I came out as intersex less than three years ago. For anyone whose doesn’t know - intersex people are born with sex characteristics that don’t fit the normal binary of male and female. In my case, my body looked female but as I grew up it became apparent that I wasn’t quite the average girl. After not going through puberty, it was eventually discovered that I had a female looking body on the outside (ie I was born with a vagina), but my chromosomes are actually a traditionally male formation of XY. This meant no ovaries, an enlarged clitoris, no breasts or oestrogen, a narrow vagina and so much more.
The solution? At 17 I was given breast implants in secret, put on oestrogen tablets and sent out into the world to pretend to be a cis female woman. The result? Instead of the revelation that I was intersex being a joyous moment of self discovery...instead of a moment where my extreme sense of gender dysphoria finally made sense leading to the beginning of a journey of beautiful empowerment and enlightenment living my truth.....I spent the next 20 years living a life of secrecy, shame and isolation. Unable to form any real friendships or relationships in the CIS hetero world for fear of being ’discovered’, but not yet recognising my place within the queer community, I turned to a self destructive lifestyle of spiralling confusion, pain and loneliness.
Today, in my third year of being openly intersex, I celebrate who I am....intersex, trans, non binary....with a sexuality that is fluid from asexual to pansexual at different times. I have a community of people around me who are all supporting me and who relate to my story and with whom I share camaraderie as they all go through stories of their own.
But I still struggle with loneliness. I still struggle to feel seen or heard. I still feel like my body and my existence are at odds with the world around me.
For me, my loneliness stems not just from being at odds with gender issues, but with issues of sex and sexuality too. The concept of male or female doesn’t apply to my body, and not only do I struggle to relate to gender norms like man or woman, I struggle to relate to males and females too. I still don’t feel like anyone has heard my full story and I still struggle to believe I can truly love or be loved. A common feeling amongst all of us who are othered and have struggled to find acceptance, for whatever reasons.
Which brings me to my artwork...
My Bodies collection is an ongoing series celebrating connection, body positivity, diverse gender and sex spectrums, fluid sexuality (including asexuality), love across boundaries and differences, community, self love and peace with ourselves and those around us.
Without the community of ‘others’ I have found, I don’t know where I’d be. We’re not perfect and we all have a long way to go, but we give space to each other. Space to be ourselves, space to explore, space to get it wrong, space to get it right, space to learn how to love ourselves and each other and to learn to be loved for whomever we may turn out to be. Space to be seen. Space to be heard.
And that’s why, this year, My series of Valentines artworks have celebrated love in all its forms. Because love, sex, friendships and relationships in irk society are everywhere for some....and nowhere for others. Many people who don’t identify with traditional relationships, traditional forms of sex and companionships, traditional friendships and lifestyles.....spend years in loneliness and isolation. But by breaking down these barriers, by breaking these rules, we can provide ways for everyone to experience love, companionship and community in their own terms.
If you’re feeling lonely or othered at this time, please know that you not alone in feeling this way and that there is a world of people, experiences and opportunities for you to explore, exist within and connect with others through as your authentic self. It takes time, and you have to be brave, strong and vulnerable at the same time. You might get it wrong again and again and you might feel like you’re the one, the only one, for whom love just doesn’t exist. But free yourself of the expectation of a traditional kind of love, and keep on searching for your truth, and you will start to find acceptance, love and abundance in the strangest places....like within yourself for a start. And once that happens, it’s still rocky road, but it starts to lead somewhere. Somewhere that feels like home.
And if you’re already there, already found the ones or the ones that you love, in whatever form that love takes, then this is a time to truly celebrate that love and be thankful for it. To celebrate yourself for being brave and vulnerable and strong, to celebrate your friends, family, partners, lovers, community ..... to celebrate love...in all its forms!
As we reach the end of this Valentine’s week, I wish you all the peace that we seek as humans on this earth.