Gina's story

My name is Gina, I'm an intersex person, I'm a poet, I'm an artist, and I'm at least 20 per cent silly.

When I'm with my siblings, or when I'm with my partner, or friends, sometimes their reaction lets me know this is something that they're not used to, this is something a bit different, and it's because of me, and it's because of my differences.

Discrimination is low level and high level. Sometimes high level discrimination in your face discrimination is easier to take because you know its happening , you know what's going on, you know which way is up. Discrimination that’s harder to take is discrimination that’s hard to understand, subtle discrimination, people who stop and look and give double takes, when you don’t get served at the counter when you’ve been there longer than anyone else. When a couple of girls stand at the coffee machine and sort have pointed discussions with, its fairly clear and when you’ve been discriminated all your life you know when its about you and its fairly clear that its about you, you have to sit and squirm or decide whether to get up and make an issue of it, its very erosive it eats away at your life.

Intersex is a word that people might not be all that familiar with in the LGBTI, its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex. intersex are people who have anatomical differences of sex, that is we have differences where we might be seen to have characteristics that are both male and female at the same time, we might have characteristics where we're not quite male, or we're not quite female, or we might characteristics where there are no definable sex characteristics at all.

Intersex people are subjected to all kinds of discrimination that LGBTI, the rest of the LGBTI community is subjected to. All the kinds of horrible things that always leave you wondering what's wrong with you, always leaves you thinking that somehow or other you're never going to be good enough, you never could possibly be good enough, because there's something about you, physically something about you that you're born with, that you can't change, and it doesn't matter how hard you try, it doesn't matter how hard you try to fit into gender expectations, it doesn't matter how hard you try to be straight and to fit in, it doesn't matter how hard you try to walk the walk, you're just not going to do it, and people are going to let you know you're not going to do it every step of the way.

My experience with depression was that it was put to me it was a kind of thing out of the blue, it was something that just lands on your shoulder and there's not much you can do about it. The single most important thing for me in my recovery was I got sick of being sick. I didn't want to live for the rest of my life feeling as miserable and as empty as I was. I decided to be happy, and I really didn't know what happiness was, or how to be happy, so I decided to pretend to be happy. And that was incredibly helpful. It gave me an insight into the kinds of behaviours I would need to have if I was going to be a happy person, and they were behaviours that I slowly started to adopt for myself, until ... I suppose I'd been doing this for some years when I said to myself that I'd had a really great time, and I really meant it, and I can't ever remember having felt like that before in my life. I was told from time to time in my life that I would probably never find a partner, I might have to learn to live by myself and be happy as a single person, and that was a miserable prospect for me, and it wasn't true. I found a partner, I have an absolutely delightful family life now, and that I could never have imagined, and it was a prospect that I never had really counted on.

The other critical part of my recovery was finding good therapy, and being prepared to go in speaking to counsellors with a project in my head, and seeing how that worked and being prepared to give up early and go and look again, and continue to look until I found a counsellor that worked for me. And having a counsellor that worked for me is... was absolutely critical.

I would certainly go back and talk to my 20 year old self and say start now – start early, get stuck into this as soon as you possibly can, the longer you leave it the harder it's going to be -- start now. To make the world a better place every person should look at how they view their fellows, and you don't have to like everybody, I'm not asking people to like me, I'm asking them to leave me alone if they don't. I just wish that would know, they could possibly know how much hurt they cause, how much hurt their little snide things, how much hurt the constant reminder that I don't fit, how much hurt the constant insistence that people should be this way, or people should be that way, and those of us that can never measure up to that, how much hurt that causes, how miserable that makes our lives.

And I have a message to all people who suffer the kinds of discrimination, and suffer the kinds of disadvantage I have, and that is that it's possible to have a happy life. I've got a beautiful life. I have a beautiful family, wonderful, wonderful friends, a life I could never have imagined that it was possible for me to have. It took a lot of work, and a lot of effort, but it's the most worthwhile thing I have ever done in my life.