A hermaphrodite’s quest to be a man
Posted Saturday, March 9 2013 at 02:00
William’s having both female and male sexual organs has led to him being stigmatised and subjected to name-calling. However, he hopes to undergo an operation at the International Hospital in Kampala to turn him into a man. Dembe FM listeners have offered to contribute the money for the operation.
His is a life of over two decades of unending agony, despair and bitterness with self, the world and fate. He is not sure of his age but through guess work, he puts it at 26. That is not because he has a poor memory. William (surname withheld on request) lost his mother and father to HIV/Aids at the tender age of four. They left him with no sibling. The only person he could lean on was an elderly maternal aunt with whom he stays in Jinja District.
However, being an orphan is a challenge in life he would have managed to maneuver through if he had been born normal. He was born with female and male sexual organs. He is a hermaphrodite. And that has come with a hefty price for him to pay to society which has reduced him to a loner, misfit and curse.
Up to around the age of 10, he was called Irene because everyone knew him as a girl. Only his aunt and a few family confidants had knowledge about the abnormality. They did not bother to reveal it to him.
He actually did not know what was wrong with him even when the public started to view him from an alien angle.
While he was stuck in the mire of confusion, society had played its crowd role, concluded and baptised him, “Mukazi-musajja” literally meaning, the one who is both a man and woman. “I also started to believe I am not normal and I looked at myself in the mirror,” he tearfully said.
The reality of having female and male traits crushed down on him like a thunderbolt. One day, he was in class and noticed blood flowing down from his genitals. That was in broad day light and full view of all and sundry.
“We had studied about menstruation in science so I knew it was the one,” he says, closing his sunken eyes as he struggles to recollect the events that unfolded ranging from an uproar, alarm to instant ridicule and discrimination.
It is on this day that he realised something was not only wrong with him but also fundamentally disastrously flawed. “I did not tell my aunt because she had all along refused to reveal to me why children in the village always made fun of me. All I did was clean up the mess with a piece of cloth,” he recounts in a hoarse voice and sharp stereo laced with shyness.
He adds that his grades at school tremendously dropped as he began isolating himself . Even when he forced himself to class, that emptiness haunted him till he walked out. The stares and whispers deflated his ego and crushed the smallest iota of hope in him. He hated everybody and everything in the world yet the world too, seemed to detest him with equal rage for his condition.
A lady only identified as Teacher Sylvia, in an interview with Dembe FM confirmed this stage in Irene’s (as he was known then) life. She met him 10 years ago when he was in his P.6 while working with a non-governmental organisation as a health and reproductive educator with Jinja schools and communities. “He was a brilliant pupil but whenever he gave an answer in class, his peers laughed at him. He used to wear shirts and shorts but always packed himself with several clothes, at times over four shorts. I sensed something wrong and called him aside,” she recollects.
Finally, he had got someone to lean on and he opened up to her. Together with a white colleague, this teacher gathered resources and brought ‘Irene’ to International Hospital Kampala, “for a confirmatory test of his abnormality.”
The doctors confirmed the condition and operated on him 10 years ago. Dr Moses (asked that his second name should be left out), who operated on him, says at that time, the female hormones were stronger than the male and the medical team proposed that he be helped to attain full womanhood but Irene insisted he is a man.
The operation that included doing away with the breasts and other internal re-adjustments cost Shs10m but was not conclusive. A conclusive one needed an extra Shs2m, which the duo did not have then.
The significant relief the operation brought, at least on his physical appearance, was ridding him of the breasts but the name calling and stigma raged on, with even more ferocity. He soldiered on till Senior Four but failed to finish as he lost morale.
Matters were not helped by the menstruation periods which this ‘half man’ with a broad chest and conspicuous muscular body build says, “could be 10 times more painful than those of a normal woman and I don’t even know about pads.” He retired home to serve the life sentence fate seemed to have handed him. Since then, he has constructed himself a mud and wattle hut where he sleeps alone. He has no friends and, “these days I fight with whoever makes fun of me,” he testified, caressing his chin that bears not a single stride of a beard even at 26 years.
Intriguingly, in as much as William confesses he has a regular menstrual cycle, he also gets wet dreams, romantic attraction to women and even envisions himself as a father once lady luck smiles at him.
He says he is a virgin and the furthest he has got with a woman was in secondary school when he won a girl’s heart. That was yet another battle with society which blew up his secret to the girl. The next day, only a week into their affair, she publicly insulted and dumped him without a second thought. Since then, he has declared himself persona non grata in the women’s world.
The second journey to normal life
It is this dream of a normal life, free from stigma and self dejection that compelled him to save his petty earnings from fetching water and digging gardens for neighbours for one month and travel to Kampala twice to secure an interview with Dembe Fm where he was hosted this week.
Doctors at IHK, who have since done scans and blood tests, confirm that, “we can do an operation and remove the uterus, reduce the size of the nipples, give him artificial testicles and elongate his penis. We shall also completely remove the womanhood.”