“If given an opportunity, I know that I would have exceled in soccer. I could have played for and represented my country,” says Kudakwashe Maiswa.
This is the one thing Kudakwashe is certain of. That if he had continued to play the game he loved, he would have taken it to dizzying heights. However, it has been a while since he has been on the soccer pitch or kicked a football. In fact, he no longer wants anything to do with the game.
Kudakwashe was born an intersex person, having both male and female sex characteristics. Due to this difference, he has had to give up a lot in life. The treatment he receives because of people’s misunderstanding of his different biological nature has made it difficult to live a normal life and pursue his dreams.
Too often, people like Kudakwashe face discrimination from their families, communities, and nations just because they are different.
And in turn, the world misses out on many of their talents and valuable contributions.
“I could kick the ball better and further than everyone. I was good,” explains Kudakwashe. “But that got people curious to the extent that they wanted to examine me to see if I was a man or woman. Initially I would tone down my performance, which did not please my coach. Eventually, I decided to just forget about soccer.”
Intersex people often face various forms of stigma and discrimination and human rights violations, because of the simple fact that they do not conform to gender norms. This can result in the inability to access health, education and other public services.
“The attending nurse at a certain hospital I visited once shouted embarrassing questions and comments in full earshot of those present. It was humiliating,” he says.
“They are times that I fall sick and just wait to get better by myself at home without seeking medical attention. I prefer that than the kind of treatment I receive at hospitals.”
The overarching purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals is to make sure no one is left behind in efforts to bring equitable peace and prosperity to the people around world. This begins with making sure no one is discriminated against, regardless of who they are.
“The intersex are real people,” says Kudakwashe. “It is not something painful to have. It is just a diversity.”
“Just like we have white and black people, light and dark-skinned people. The intersex are people who can do anything all people can do.”
Kudakwashe is now a trained teacher. Far from being a football superstar, he now hopes to use this training to help families in which an intersex is born to understand more about their child, thereby reducing the likelihood of discrimination that begins from within.
Together with national and multilateral partners, UNDP in Zimbabwe continues to support the Government to create spaces for all people to exchange ideas and information on ending all forms of discrimination to achieve national and global aspirations.