This is part of #KaraniwangLGBTQIA, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBTQIA people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”
The first time Julie Anne “Juliana” Albay – 29 years old from Nueva Ecija – heard of term “intersex” was in July 2019, when “a member of the intersex community was interviewed by a TV station,” she said. It was eye-opening for her, making her realize she is not alone, since she also had lots of questions about herself that no one could satisfactorily answer.
Juliana was assigned female at birth since “I have a vagina.”
But in her third year in high school, “I found out I’m intersex.”
She had a check-up at that time after family members noticed she had yet to menstruate, and her body was not maturing. “We found out I didn’t have uterus. Without uterus, you don’t have ovaries. I also didn’t have cervix supporting the uterus,” Juliana said.
Upon knowing this, “of course I was shocked. It was shocking knowing you don’t have any chance of having a baby in the future. Nonetheless, you have no choice but accept it. That’s reality.”
Besides, Juliana said, “I’m still human. There are others like me, and we accept our condition.”
Juliana did research on her condition.
“I found out I have uterine agenesis, a congenital condition wherein my reproductive system did not develop when I was in my mother’s womb,” she said.
She also researched about intersex groups, ending up speaking with someone with the same condition as hers. By then, “some of my questions were answered. And it made me realize that I am not alone; there are others like me.”
Juliana is luckier than others, in a way.
“The way I accept myself now, that’s how my family accepts me. This condition didn’t change my personhood; I am not some animal, people like me are not animals,” she said. “My family accepts me even if I’m male, female, gay or lesbian. It makes me proud because not all people are accepted by their families.”
Juliana’s intersex condition affected various aspects of her life.
For instance, “I took up various courses, but – to be honest – I didn’t finish any because I was also bullied in college. I am always afraid; and that I’ll be discriminated, or be rejected because of my condition.”
Juliana recalled that in the past, “some people asked me my my breasts did not develop; or why I still wasn’t menstruating. When you explain to them, and because they don’t have information, they consider you as gay. (Let me say) I am not gay; I’m a woman in and out.”
Juliana – the youngest of seven siblings – is also the only one who’s single now; all her siblings have families already.
This is greatly affected by her intersex condition.
“I don’t have a serious relationship now; just flirtations. Just flirtations through chats, through texting. I don’t meet them personally. I don’t want to meet them; they may be shocked. I’m a big woman,” Juliana said.
But she stressed: “(Even with my condition), I see myself as a woman. This is how I feel. This is why I wear women’s clothes, I accessorize, and I put on make-up. I am a woman. Just not blessed to bear kids. But there are many ways to have children.”
In the end, to people who do not understand the intersex condition, Juliana said “thank you.” “Because of you people who judge us, you strengthen our resolve,” she said. But in the end, “I hope you reach a point in your life when you’d understand us. Even plants exist; so do we. Allow us to decide for ourselves. We’re also human. That’s that.”