I was 16 years old when I found out I had testicles. It came as quite a surprise, to put it mildly, for me, the doctor who told me and my parents who never could’ve imagined their precious little girl was actually born “biologically male”.I’m intersex, which means I don’t fit into the typical chromosomal or anatomical definitions of male or female. I'm also a musician and activist from Melbourne on a relentless mission to revolutionise intersex representation in Australia.
Before I began casually educating millions of random people online about the inner workings of my genitalia, I was terrified to even bring them up with the people closest to me.But why? Why the terror? And why the shift? How does one go from one extreme to the other? It wasn't due to an abundance of positive media representation, I can assure you, or the collective knowledge and understanding from the general public that’s oh-so prevalent in our society. I like to say it’s because it’s because I’ve got the balls. But the truth is, it really wasn't easy.Against the suburban backdrop of Eastern Melbourne, I, like many queer teenagers, found myself surrounded by people who idolised heteronormative ideals and in the ceaseless pursuit of fitting in and exuding coolness and allure. Upon receiving the verdict that explained my absent periods from an ill-informed doctor, I was compelled into silence. When I did confide in a so-called friend who went blabbing that I was a man, it solidified the “truth” I was warned about: If you're intersex, prepare for discrimination and pain – the world won't spare you for being born this way.Contrary to the messages I was receiving, as I delved deeper into the world of intersex, I began to realise its prevalence. But I wondered: “Why isn't this taught in schools?” According to most health organisations, being born intersex is nearly as common as having red hair, so where were all the intersex people? Had we all been collectively terrorised into staying silent, because our modern society had led us to believe that being born this way was undeserving of recognition or respect?
I found myself in the midst of an internal battle of self-hatred and fear, while still holding onto an entrenched awareness that the mainstream discourse was simply ignorant. Fueled by these conflicting emotions, I decided to make it my personal mission to do as much as I could to change the narrative here in Australia – hopefully to spare young intersex people from feeling the way I did.Taking that initial step of reaching for my phone and sharing my story online was the beginning of my journey. First, a few thousand interactions, then a few hundred thousand, then a million. Despite encountering occasional comments rooted in ignorance, most people were just curious and grateful to be educated.Despite the attention, I couldn't ignore the glaring absence of intersex representation and the urgent need for it. I remember hearing rumours about celebrities who were intersex but went to great lengths to disprove the claims. That set a bar for how intersex people were viewed by the mainstream. In order to succeed in life, you had to hide. I decided to grab that bar and throw it out the window.Australia, whether it knows it or not, has to wake up to the reality of intersex people and their experiences. In a media landscape that has never acknowledged our existence, I am trying to carve out our space. It might look as though I stand alone in the entire nation for amplifying intersex voices. But I don’t. There’s a whole globe full of us waiting for recognition and we’re not going to stop being born into the world.
Representation is not just a matter of diversity, it's a matter of human rights. It's a call to action – for a society that claims to champion inclusivity to truly walk the talk. The absence of intersex representation perpetuates ignorance and discrimination. It's time to educate and time to celebrate the beautiful spectrum of human existence. Until everyone sees themselves reflected in the media we consume, we can never truly claim to be a society that values and respects every individual.I once feared that being intersex would be a barrier to success – a secret to protect at all costs. I was mistaken. I'm simply a natural biological variation, nothing extraordinary. Once I grasped that, I felt compelled to be that person I used to wish I had and to get up and say to the world that it's okay to be intersex. It's normal. The only real difference is the way the world treats us. That's where the challenge lies.Follow Blume on Instagram, or listen to their podcast and music.