The Resource Partner for today’s story is interACT, a nonprofit that uses innovative legal and other strategies to advocate for the human rights of children born with intersex traits.
My name is Maria Tridas and I’m from St. Petersburg, Florida. When I was 12 years old, I started taking hormone replacement therapy because my parents just kind of matter fact told me that I wasn’t built like other girls. So when other girls were, kind of, starting to get their periods and really starting to grow into what it means to be a woman, I, kind of, matter of factly, got these pills that I was to take every single day and that’s the way I was created and, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that, but that was who I was.
Six years later, I’m in the same doctor’s office that I visited every month, you know, growing up until that point. Except this one felt a little bit more serious. Both my parents were there and we’re sitting in the doctor’s office. I knew something had to be different and the doctor sort of just starts to tell me that, you know, I have XY chromosomes and starts revealing all these little bits and pieces that I couldn’t exactly tell you now what she told me. But something that I would later find out – something that I would later find out which meant that I was intersex. The doctor told me that I was born with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome.
So after I found out that I do in fact had XY chromosomes with little-to-no knowledge of how to discuss what was going on in my body, I went to college and decided that I was going to be the best girl that I knew how to be. And that, for me, was joining a sorority. I thought that if I joined a sorority and spent time with a group of women and I was the most feminine girl that I could be, that, you know, the clothes and the hair and that would kind of – the outer shell of feminine Maria would sort of sink to the chromosomal level of XY intersex Maria.
But then I realized also that I like women, and so my journey in college began as this ultra-effeminate, straight woman and ended with me as coming out and being a super proud lesbian and sort of really beginning my journey into queerdom. I definitely used being a lesbian as sort of a distraction because I had to come out and really come to terms with being gay and getting everyone in my life caught up to speed on who I was as a lesbian. But that all sort of changed when I met this girl in grad school and things started to get serious.
I knew that I was gonna have to eventually tell her and lesbians talk about everything, so the question of why I didn’t have a period kind of came quickly. So with the bits and pieces of information that I gave her, she was able to, kind of, put together her own Google search. She rightfully had questions about the things she read on the internet. At that point I knew that, not only did I need to give her some answers, but the way that I needed to do that was, kind of, learn about myself and face this beast head on and just learn – and finally take this time to actually learn about who I am.
My parents and I sat down at my kitchen table. I felt like I was doing my middle school homework, kind of. I had a piece of printer paper and a pencil and I wrote down intersex, colon, definition and I basically made a flowchart of what happens when a baby is conceived, how baby develops, what happens when you respond to certain hormones that your body produces, when you don’t respond to certain hormones, how a body’s created. So I sort of had my first biology lesson in learning about myself and, like a really good test that I studied for, I got in my car and – we lived about a half-hour away – so I drove the whole way thinking exactly what I was going to say to her.
I pulled up to her house and I get out of the car. She’s already waiting for me and we just went on a really long walk. The conversation, luckily, went way better than I ever imagined it would have. For as nervous as I was, it was kind of not necessary because she learned about it and then we were able to just kind of move on. It was calming in how matter-of-fact she took the news. She didn’t really care and that sort of kickstarted my confidence to want to learn more about it.
In being with her, while everything maybe wasn’t always very good, the best thing she ever did for me was help me begin my journey of being a confident intersex woman. I’ll talk about it all the time now.
Not that I am “Hey, I’m Maria, I’m intersex,” it would just be, “Hey, I’m Maria. Oh yeah, I happen to like girls. I happen to be intersex. I happen to be a Latina. I happen to eat pizza.”
Once you educate yourself about what it means to be intersex, you realize that it kind of relates to the larger picture of the world and that everything is so diverse and that humans are diverse, gender is diverse, it’s all on a spectrum. When you give yourself the knowledge about who you are at your core, it allows you to build your outer shell, that person that you are presenting to the world in the most beautiful, honest and confident way.