What It's Like to Be Intersex

“It was like a bomb being dropped into our life.”

That’s Isaiah Ngwaru. He’s talking about the moment he and his wife, Betina, discovered their child, Tatenda, was intersex. Although they had been raising her as a boy, Tatenda had railed against the strict masculine norms in their hometown of Gutu, Zimbabwe. She wore high heels, dressed in skirts, and expressed a desire to change her gender. It wasn’t until she underwent an operation for a hernia, however, that Tatenda’s condition became medically salient to her parents—the surgeon found “something like an ovary” in the child’s body. “I just knew it. I felt it in my gut. I’m a girl,” says Tatenda in this short documentary.

“She’s Not a Boy” was co-directed by Robert Tokanel and Yuhong Pang. It is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent creators.