Anick would never go to the bathroom on his own as a child. Whenever he needed the toilet he would ask his mum or dad, his brother or sister, to come and stand guard on the other side of the door so he felt comfortable enough to use the facilities without the threat of a stranger barging in. And if he was unaccompanied, he would simply refuse to go.
Feeling unable to take off his uniform in public or put on tighter clothes for exercising, Anick would not get changed in front of his classmates at school either. In fact, he doesn’t remember attending a single PE lesson between the ages of 10 and 13. “I’d always have a sick note I could use,” he says.
Admittedly, lots of children have self-conscious habits that disappear by adulthood, but Anick wasn’t just going through an awkward period. This behaviour was a tiny part of an intricately-woven double life that helped him conceal a part of himself.
On April 3 1995, Anick’s parents, Bharatee and Hasmukh, welcomed their third baby, two months before his due date. The couple who had moved from India to Tanzania and then to the UK to settle with their family in Leicester, were immediately notified by doctors on the maternity ward that something was wrong with their baby boy. But medical staff couldn’t pinpoint what it was.
Anick was born with ambiguous genitalia, attributed to premature delivery. After a chromosome test of the baby came back with XY, doctors determined he was a boy and predicted his external sexual organs would develop as he grew up. “But as I continued to grow, down there it all stayed the same,” Anick, now 23, tells HuffPost UK.
People who don’t fit the usual biological definitions of female or male, like Anick at birth, are classified as intersex, an umbrella term which covers more than 40 different variations. For example, intersex people may have variations in their chromosomes, genitals or internal organs like testes or ovaries.
Depending on the individual case, these differences may be visible from birth or…