December 5, 2013 / Manchester, England
Hi, my name is Dawn Vago. I am 33 years old. I currently live in Warrington near Manchester in the northwest of England. I am a singer/entertainer, and I have complete androgen insensitivity syndrome. I strongly identify as a woman effected by an intersex condition, and I am very proud of who I am and who I’ve become to this day.
It’s not been an easy journey. I was told from a very early age that I was "different". I don’t like this phrase because no one’s different. We’re all unique. Everybody has their own story. Everybody has their own life, and everyone should be allowed to live it the way that their life was intended, to them.
My parents were told when I was a child that I had testes and that they had to be removed because simply if they weren’t then I could develop serious illnesses that would effect and end my life, surely. So, I had them removed, and I was also told I was the only one in the country, or the vicinity of the area, that had something similar to this. There were no support groups, there was no one that I could identify with, there was no one I could talk to. More importantly, there was no one for my parents to identify with, there was no one for my parents to speak to, so they had to raise me in the best conditions and environment that they could. I was very lucky to be raised in an environment full of love, openness, understanding, and care.
Unfortunately, I did not receive the same care and attention from the medical profession. I felt that they held quite a bit back. Now, when I was in my very early to mid-teens after having a very serious talk with my doctor … I had a boyfriend, I had a school crush I guess you could say, and I told my doctor. I was elated, I was a young girl, ‘finally with a boyfriend!’ and I wanted to tell everyone. When she found out about this she very quickly and nervously looked to another doctor and I was escorted into another room where I was then put on to the table. I was then … how shall I say? I had something inserted into me. I was then told this would have to be done on a regular basis as I had a shallow vagina. This affected me greatly, emotionally, and intimately. It wasn’t something that I wanted to have done to me at 14 years of age.
It’s not been so easy over the years, and I finally found a support group in my early 20’s. I met other people like myself and I realized there are 1 in 2000 effected with this, and it blew my mind. I was so happy, so, so unbelievably happy, but then that turned to anger: Why was I not told? Why had that been kept from me? Why were my parents not told this? Why did I grow up in a world of shadow and shame? It should not have been like that.
I just think we all need to unite, be together, come together in love, support, understanding, care for each other, be there to lean on each other when we need it, and to move the world forward into a position where children and parents do not feel alone and alienated. No Body Is Shameful®. ©