There is confusion over the gender of some twins born with both the female and male reproductive organs in Ghana.
The twins have been using feminine names, earrings and clothes of females since they were born in 1993 based on the advice of a medical doctor.
However, as they grow up with their hormones and biological make-up developing, these twins feel and physically appear to be male than females hence opted for a change of gender, names and the dress they wear.
But they faced resistance from both family and teachers. The situation coupled with stigma forced them to drop out of school at class six.
“Our Parents say they discovered that we have female and a bit of male organs. But we were declared females and were named Akweley and Akorkor.
But when we grew up we saw ourselves as males. So we were reluctant to wear female uniforms to school, we insisted they wear us male uniforms but the school authorities too resisted. So we dropped out of school at class 6”.
Akweley and Akuorkor have lived with the condition and stigma without any clinical support.
Failed football career
The psychological stress, however, didn’t deter them from pursuing a football career.
One of the twins had a call up to join the Black Queens of Ghana, under 20 team, however was dropped after his condition was detected by a medical doctor assigned to declare the gender.
“We were very good footballers so we relocated and joined a football club. I got a call up to Black Queens under 20. They called a doctor and the doctor came to the camp and examined us and said I am a male so they dropped me from the squad”.
The twins have since been striving to learn a vocation to make a living, however, quit due to stigmatization.
Unable to bear the stigma of relatives and neighbours they continue to relocate from one village to another to hide and farm for a living.
The only person who gave them hope was their father but his death on July 20, 2018, has left them hopeless.
These intersex twins say they continue to have suicidal thoughts.
“We are suffering from stigma so unable to live in one community. People pointing their fingers at us. Our family too is stigmatizing against us. So now we are hiding in villages. We don’t stay in one place for long. We even ditched learning driving because of the stigma. Sometimes suicide thoughts come to our minds. Sometimes they call as evil Children,” they said.
The twins want the sexual disorders corrected but cannot afford the medical process.
Dr Frank Yirenkyi, a healthcare practitioner and Urologist at Ghana’s Eastern Regional Hospital located in the town of Koforidua who examined the condition of the twins said they have rare congenital which could be corrected through a complex medical procedure.
“We have done a lot of investigations about them, physically examined them and we found out that physically they appear to be male but it is very unfortunate when they were given birth at the initial stages their parents thought they are females because they were more prone to female physical appearances.
But as they are growing now we can see that from the facial outlook they look like males, they have a beard, their breast is not well developed but when it comes to their genitalia, we found out that they have both vagina and a penis which is well developed per our investigations,” He said.
“Our preliminary investigations show that their hormones are more prone to male sex because there have a high level of testosterone in them but the further investigations also show that they have undeveloped uterus and ovaries. They have undescended testicles and well-developed penis and vagina.”
He said the condition could be corrected but “In such conditions, we don’t need only one doctor, we need a team of doctors before we can do the operation on them.
We need a pediatrist neurologist, entrap neurologist, and psychologist to psych their minds and a primary health worker to take care of their day to day activities.”
The twins are now hoping sooner than later help will come their way so they can live normal life away from stigma.