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.”
Andy Andres – 30 years old and the youngest of six siblings from the Province of Pampanga – was assigned female at birth. In 2008, “I had myself checked because of pain in my lower abdomen/tummy,” Andy said, adding that even then, “I was apprehensive because I may be discriminated because my condition is ‘different’.”
Even as a teenager, “I asked my mother why – even if I was already 13, 14 or 14 – I still didn’t menstruate. My breasts also didn’t develop. My mom told me to just wait. I told her my case may be different. Because based on my genitalia, mine was different.”
Andy’s apprehension to see a doctor was based on the knowledge that “when people discover you’re different, people immediately discriminate against you.”
After seeing a doctor, Andy was told of his intersex condition: congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
GROWING UP DIFFERENT
The name written on Andy’s birth certificate is ‘Marissa Andres’.
And without knowledge of the intersex condition, “I hid my identity by claiming I’m a lesbian,” Andy said, adding that in the past, “I didn’t know better.”
There was a time when “I used clothes for women, but I was never attracted to men. That may be also why I pretended I was a lesbian. At least, by pretending to be a lesbian, I can act in a masculine manner.”
Even then, though, he already identified as a man.
And even then, “my family accepted me.” But yes, there was a time when even a sibling bullied him.
Andy started using his chosen name because of work.
“In the company I first worked with, they placed me in the women’s quarter because that was the sex in my birth certificate. There, I experienced bullying. They told me my birth certificate says I’m a woman, but my breasts did not develop, and I didn’t menstruate. They asked me what I am; and I couldn’t explain my situation to them,” he said.
It was hard for Andy to even go to the toilet. “I presented myself as a man, but I went to the female toilet,” he said. “Some people even told me, ‘Maybe you’re an alien.’ It hurts. But I can’t do anything about this, so I just ignore them.”
There was also a time when Andy was rejected for a job. “They had a physical check-up, and I was rejected due to this,: he said.
Andy was “so depressed I considered killing myself. There was a time when even I didn’t accept myself.”
GROWING WITH KNOWLEDGE
After knowing he’s intersex, “initially, it was difficult for me to accept that I am intersex. I asked: ‘Of all the people, why me?’ I’m not a bad person, I did no wrong; even my family did no wrong. So why me? I was depressed.”
Andy disclosed to his family, and “I saw their expressions, they looked happy. They were happy I found the answer to a question I asked them that they couldn’t answer. They said at least it’s not my ‘fault’, unlike LGBT people. I don’t think they meant to discriminate. But they said that with me, at least I can choose (what I want to be).”
The support of family and friends helped Andy survive.
“Now, I have fully accepted my condition. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s already here; God gave this to me. I think God gave this to me because He has a reason/purpose. God won’t do this without reason,” he said.
LIVING FOR THE FUTURE
Andy has a partner now.
“Not to boast, but I may be intersex, but I already had a number of girlfriends,” he beamed. “I don’t believe physical traits matter when looking for true love. As long as you can love the person, and that person can’t accept you, there won’t be a problem.”
Andy added: “I disclosed my condition to all my girlfriends; even before I started wooing them. If a girl doesn’t accept me, I move on. But there are some who stayed.”
Andy has yet to amend his original birth certificate because of financial issues. “So when I have saved enough, I’ll prioritize this,” he said, “to legally change the name ‘Marissa’ in my birth certificate.”
And for Andy, there’s always more that can be done.
And this starts with acceptance.
“To younger intersex people, accept who you are, what you have/are. Don’t give in to depression. If you are depressed, many can help you. Never consider killing yourself because that will be a waste. There are different ways to live (productively). No matter what you’re going through, trust God,” he said.
Andy also recognizes that haters will always exist.
“To those who mock us, continue with what you’re doing,” he said, laconically. “But I also hope they will eventually accept us. God did not only create man and woman. Because if this is so, then who created us? I hope you also see us as humans who also get hurt and fight hardships in life.”