Intersex Society of Zambia
voice of intersex persons

A testimonial story of an Intersex person – Chola

My name is Chola Mumba and I work at the Intersex Society of Zambia (ISSZ), an intersex-led organization advocating for the recognition of intersex persons in Zambia. I was born on February 13, 1996 and am the last born in a family of 3. My mother passed on a few months after my birth and my father died when I was 8 years old.

I completed school in 2014. I was raised female instead of male. When I was born,  my attending medical doctors and my parents could not tell whether I was male or female. So, a gender was picked for me.

Being intersex is not easy due to myths and misconceptions associated with the condition. At school, my school-mates would make fun of me by calling me “boy-girl”, “ugly”, and several more terrible names.

They teased me because I looked like a boy but dressed like a girl. I never liked ‘girly’ things despite my guardians having me dressed in a girl’s school uniform. So, I decided to stop attending classes for several months, until the 8th grade when I decided to take charge of what I wore to class!

It really had been tough. Intersex people often experience prejudice and discrimination because their bodies do not conform to other people’s expectation of sex or gender identity. I felt stigmatized and segregated in all aspects of life, from school, to friends and even the entire society.

At the age of 15 puberty kicked in, this became ever more confusing. I began to develop feelings towards girls and my body was developing differently from my female friends.

My female friends developed breasts and experienced menstrual cycles, but with each day that passed, I looked more like a man. I remember asking mum (my aunt who took care of me) why I was developing differently from others. Her reply was: “don’t worry it will happen at its own time.”

I felt like ending my life until I came across an article about intersex persons. I was filled with joy because I was reading about someone like me. I made arrangements to meet with Mphatso Sakala (the Founder and Director of the Intersex Society of Zambia), who told me that “You are not alone”. At that moment, for the first time in my life, I felt free and at peace.

A testimonial story of an Intersex person – Chola
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