Olga

In Russian society, the word “intersex” isn’t heard often, not even in the media. Intersex is a person born with sexual characteristics that do not fit in the generally accepted standards of perception of the male and female body. This is an umbrella term for a wide range of anatomical variations that occur in nature. The existence of two sexes is still considered the only acceptable “scientific fact”.  Sex reassignment surgery is most often done at an early age, when the child has not reached a self-conscious age and when it has not been able to make an independent decision. “Correction” of atypical genitalia often leads to various lasting consequences: loss of reproductive abilities, painful scars, loss of sexual sensitivity, lifelong hormone therapy since an early age, and many others. There is a tense atmosphere where misunderstandings prevail in families where parents are struggling to hide the “abnormality” of their child.  In our country, this topic is not even discussed, and intersex still look for each other in social networks and create “closed” groups.

Olga lives in the city of Togliatti. She has Swyer syndrome (genetically having a male karyotype 46XY but with an externally female phenotype). Olga had waited for her first period since the age of 14, but it never came. For eight years the gynecologists in Togliatti’s polyclinics could not diagnose her condition. They only ascertained the fact that Olga experienced a delay in the development of her genital organs. Olga started to experience bouts of depression: she could not understand why doctors were clueless about what was wrong with her, and why she was different. Only at the age of 22 did Olga get admitted into the district hospital, where the geneticists analyzed her to determine her karyotype. The results was surprising for Olga: she has a uterus, but she has no ovaries, because of her abnormal gonads. In other words, she is barren. She had a number of operations performed on her and a long way towards accepting herself as she is.

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