Lady Colin Campbell was born intersex and raised as a boy until she was 21. That's not why she's called Lady Colin, though. Borrowing the name of the posh man you’re married to, like Princess Michael of Kent, is something women in some quarters of society do. It’s nothing to do with their gender identity.
Lady Colin was born in 1949 in Jamaica. She came from an immensely privileged background, part of her heritage coming from Jamaica’s oldest colonial families. She was born with her labia fused and a deformed clitoris. This meant her genitals looked neither male nor female.
Stuck with how to raise their child, her parents opted for ‘male’ and so called their baby George.
George William Ziadie was sent to a boys’ school from 11-18, which Lady Colin recently described as, ‘horrendous, like a glimpse into the bowels of Hell.’
When she reached 13, though, she began puberty – the female, hip-widening, boob-growing sort – and secretly went to her mum’s gynaecologist. When her mum found out, she later told The Telegraph she was sent to hospital ‘for the most terrifying three weeks of my life’ where she was injected, against her will, with male hormones, until her voice deepened, her nipples shrank and she developed facial hair.
She protested enough for her parents to remove her from the sadistic hospital, but for five years she simply wasn’t recognised as a girl/woman and refused the medical procedures needed to ‘turn’ her into a woman.
She told The Telegraph many years later: ‘Our family was extremely well known and he [her father] would have done anything to avoid publicity and embarrassment.
‘I remember walking with him from the owners’ and stewards’ car park upstairs to our box at the racecourse. People were staring, because my situation was sufficiently well known, and although I wore trousers, it was very clear I was not a boy. You could see that to him it was the worst ordeal of his life.’
He then suggested her solution would be ‘a dose of rat poison’.
It was only when she left school and went to New York, aged 21, to live as a woman that her mother conceded and let her get the surgery necessary to help her feel properly like a woman. It’s in New York that she met Lord Colin Campbell. Within a week they were engaged and then married soon after.
They divorced after 14 months. The marriage broke down, among other things, due to the circumstances surrounding her upbringing. Lady Colin kept the name, and went on to write many books about the royals, the blue bloods and other people whose lives she was privy to by way of being a fellow posh person. She never remarried, but did adopt Russian twins when they were just babies in 1993. To do this, she used the money from a book she’d written about Princess Diana. Now, she has built a broadcasting career, which once saw her attacked for bizarre comments on the late Jeffrey Epstein, in which she quibbled about descriptions of him as a paedophile, instead insisting that he was 'an ephebophile'.
As for intersex? Here’s your need-to-know:
What is the meaning of intersex?
Intersex has been defined as a 'general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.'
It should be noted that intersex anatomy does not always crop up at birth and can be discovered later on in puberty.
Intersex people are described as, 'individuals born with any of several sex characteristics including chromosome patterns, gonads, or genitals that, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, "do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies"'.
Is intersex like trans?
No, trans people have standard genitals – either male or female – but don’t want to live as the gender ascribed by those genitals, for example a child with a penis feels they are a female. Intersex people have genitals that are ambiguous and could either look male or female.
Are they hermaphrodites?
Not necessarily. Hermaphrodism is when someone has the internal organs of both sexes, i.e. both testes and ovaries. While the term ‘intersex’ applies to people with hermaphrodism, it also applies to people born with malformed genitals or atypical chromosomes.
How many people are intersex?
One in 2,000 babies are born with genitals that do not fit neatly into ‘male’ or ‘female’ categories.
Can’t they just be operated on?
As well as being operated in childhood at the insistence of parents who want a child who’s either male or female and medical health professionals who won’t want to wait it out, intersex people face being given the wrong sex to grow up in.
The UN Special Rapporteur has said non-consensual surgery can cause ‘permanent, irreversible infertility and severe mental suffering’, reported The Independent.
Can’t they just decide they’re one sex or the other?
While some intersex people grow up to feel happily not one gender or the other, there’s no way of expressing this on formal documents, such as passports and driving licences. In Germany, there was a successful campaign for babies to not have to be registered as either male or female on birth certificates, and British intersex campaigners are hoping to achieve the same here.
One UK intersex site calls for our strict adherence to the rules of male/female to simply disappear altogether. ‘It is UKIA’s view that we should regard humanity as a continuum, with the standard stereotypes as the extremes of this continuum.’
What is the meaning of asexual?
Asexual is a term used to describe someone who, 'does not experience sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender'.
However, this does not necessarily mean they don't engage in sexual activity.
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.