‘My first thought was, I guess I’m not woman enough’: Pop-rock musician Dalea shares her experience as an Intersex woman
‘I am a woman of Intersex experience. I am a woman of trans experience, but in the end I am just a woman.’
Dalea is a pop-rock musician, fashion designer and founder of Girl Comet, a diversity awareness campaign. Dalea also has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which means she is Intersex.
On her Youtube channel, Dalea defines Intersex as “a term used to describe people who are born with internal or external sex anatomy variations that result in bodies or genetic makeup that does not fit into the typical male or female form.”
Dalea was born without a uterus and instead of ovaries she had gonads. She also has XY chromosomes instead of the typical XX chromosome seen in most women.
Dalea shared her story about being an Intersex woman with babe.
Since childhood, I have always been a girly girl. I love pink, dolls and girly things. My dreams were uncomplicated, I wanted to sing, paint, fall in love, have babies and a family of my own. Like many kids on this planet, my childhood was very challenging, my biological father was not around, and mom had a tough time caring for me full-time, so I bounced around a lot. Not having a place to call home can really mess with your head and diminish your self-worth, but I have always been a dreamer, so my dreams helped me keep going.
As I approached my teens, I began to get sick.
I had long periods of going from heavy colds to spells of high fever, rashes on my body, nosebleeds, ear infections and weird weakness spells. I spent quite a bit of time at hospitals. Due to my precarious living situation, proper medical care was hard to come by, but, I finally ended up with a doctor who was able to diagnose me with an auto-immune condition called rheumatic fever. I spent the following several weeks getting painful daily shots of penicillin and being bed ridden.
My rheumatic fever kept my caretakers so busy that even though all the signs were there, it took a while to diagnose what would become the biggest challenge I have had to face.
When at 14 I finally learned (by eavesdropping) just how different I was, it was not kind or pretty. The doctor, in an unfortunate typical Latin macho-attitude, laid out a few cruel and uneducated statements to my grandmother, including the fact that I would need surgeries so “I could pass for a normal girl.” He called it “testicular feminization” and said that sometimes, nature makes mistakes.
This is when I discovered I had Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS).
I have XY chromosomes and gonads (or pseudo-ovaries, depending on whom you ask). This is not exactly something women are ready to broadcast, particularly in Latin communities and especially straight women. It was excruciating for me mentally, mostly because of the lack of support and because I did not have anyone to talk to about it. I felt alone on an island, thinking that I was the only one to ever have this difference of development. Little did I know, it is estimated that one out of 2000 kids are born with a difference of sex development.
Many things happened between that diagnosis and my eventual corrective surgeries. Including persecution and bullying. When the town gossip heard a rumor that I was different, I had to flee from being tied to a tree and ridiculed. By the grace of God, I escaped becoming a teen suicide statistic.
On the day I had my gonads/pseudo-ovaries removed, I had a meeting with my doctor, and the doctor said. “Since she is going to be under anesthesia anyway why don’t we put breast implants to make her more feminine?” I never, ever questions my 34B breasts as being too small or not feminine enough, but when the doctor said that and my dad agreed, my first thought was “I guess I’m not woman enough.” I did not have the emotional strength to fight for myself or push back against the sexism I was confronting. Years later, after searching for a doctor to remove the implants, I was able to find a female doctor who removed them successfully. Waking up without them and getting my body back, is one of the most empowering things I have done for myself.
I became a fashion designer in New York, and eventually a recording artist. In 2014, I came-forth publicly; I began releasing content on my inspiration and diversity awareness campaign, Girl Comet. I began doing speaking engagements and interviews about AIS. As an artist, I knew being public about my AIS could hurt my image, and it did, but as a woman, it elevated my spirit and womanhood to the heavens.
I wanted to be the girl I needed when I was growing up.
My wish by being public is to be the girl I needed when I was growing up, to be visible for the sake of a teen out there, and especially for Latinas. I also wish for my message to reach a parent, who may be confused or troubled by their child’s diagnosis or their gender identity. I have also made sure to have plenty of useful information on Girl Comet.
I am a woman of Intersex experience. I am a woman of Trans experience, but in the end I am just woman.
For all women out there, it does not matter what YOUR personal struggle may be, this much I know is true, if you decide to fight and keep going, in the end, your greatest pain, can become your greatest strength.
Click here to watch the video in Spanish.