Category: The Headrush
Published on Monday, 27 February 2017 18:14
Julius Kaggwa was born intersex, which meant it was not clear if he was a girl or a boy. It made for a confusing, isolating and sometimes dangerous childhood growing up in the conservative society of Uganda.
"I was brought up as 'Julia' but I never felt like I belonged," Julius, now 47, tells the BBC.
Around the age of seven, he began to work out that his body was different to most other children's.
"Not much. Just that I was a little different and that this could cause me to be ridiculed."
Julius comes from what he calls an ordinary peasant family, with a religious background.
His mother was loving and protective and his wider family "accepted and still accept me unconditionally".
'Considered a curse'
This is not something that can be taken for granted with intersex children in Uganda, he says.
"In our culture, being intersex can be considered a curse, and something to get rid of."
Although Julius was not permanently hidden at home like some intersex children, some of his earliest memories involve being kept away from others.
"Mostly it was the constant reminder by my parents to avoid certain modes of play because I could be harassed or abused.
"Also, my mother's strict protection of me meant I kept changing schools. It was a very isolating feeling, [and] it made it very difficult to make and sustain friendships at that early age."
His mother also took Julius to traditional herbalists, who tried to "cure" him. Inevitably, the treatments failed.