Girl, 18, says she’s confident about dating despite being ‘intersex’

Teenager who was born without sex organs reveals she’s still confident about dating – but plans to have surgery to create a vaginal opening

  • Jyoti Gambill-Read from Minnesota was born ‘intersex’ without typical organs
  • She developed as a boy in utero for around 12 weeks before process stopped
  • She identifies as female and has taken oestrogen since her teens

An 18-year-old who was born without any sex organs has revealed she still feels confident about dating, and tells people she meets early on about her unique situation. 

Jyoti Gambill-Read from Hopkins, Minnesota, was born ‘intersex’ – something she defines as ‘not having the typical binary sex organs or parts’.

Jyoti started to develop as a boy in utero for around 12 weeks before the process suddenly stopped. 

She identifies as female and has taken oestrogen since her early teens.

Jyoti has decided to undergo reconstructive surgery in the future to create a vaginal opening

Jyoti has never let her condition hold her back – recently graduating from high school and attending college in the fall, she is now regularly dating.

And Jyoti seems to take it all in her stride, preferring to be upfront and tell her dates about her condition early on in their conversations.

Jyoti said: ‘For me, dating can be kind of awkward at first, especially with heterosexual guys, because I have to explain what intersex means for me and what it means in a relationship.

‘When you look at me, you see a female. So everyone just assumes that I am. But there’s a little more to it than that.

‘Intersex is like a variation or evolved term of hermaphrodite-ism basically. It can vary from person to person, but in my case, it means I don’t have internal or external sex organs.

Jyoti Gambill-Read with her mother Sue who adopted her from her native Kolkota, India

‘It also means I won’t be able to have my own biological children.

‘It’s complicated to explain and articulate, but in reality I think it’s pretty simple.

‘With dating, I like to be upfront. What’s the point of getting into a relationship and getting to the point of feeling comfortable, and then spring this on them?

‘I would describe myself as more bi-sexual or pansexual – I’m open to dating anyone, I don’t limit myself to a specific group.

What is ‘intersex’? 

The condition is more commonly described as ‘intersex’ and often those with who live with it find this term as a more helpful way to describe themselves.

A more clinical term is disorders of sex development (DSDs), these are a group of rare conditions where the reproductive organs and genitals don’t develop as expected.

If you have a DSD, you’ll have a mix of male and female sexual characteristics.

You may have sex chromosomes (bundles of genes) normally associated with being female (XX chromosomes) or male (XY chromosomes), but your reproductive organs and genitals may be:

  • of the opposite sex
  • not clearly male or female (ambiguous or atypical)
  • a mixture of male and female

This occurs because of a difference with your genes and/or how you respond to the sex hormones in your body. It can be inherited, but it often occurs randomly for no clear reason.

The most common times to find out that a child has a DSD is at birth or during adolescence.

 Source: NHS

‘I haven’t had a serious relationship yet, but I’m on all the dating apps now. It’s going well.’

Jyoti was born in Kolkata, India, before being adopted by her parents, Sue and Patrick, when she turned three-years-old.

Due to Patrick being transgender, he and Sue were faced with a few roadblocks throughout the adoption process – but they eventually managed to bring Jyoti and her younger brother, Krish, into their family.

Sue said: ‘She was delivered to us in an email. We’d been attempting to adopt for probably two years.

‘At first, I was super excited and open about having the opportunity to adopt an intersex child, thinking she can be whoever she wants to be.

‘Then I kind of realised that I was breaching her privacy, especially since she started getting older.

‘It took a little while to realise that there was no need to talk to anybody about it until Jo was ready to talk about it.

‘I waited until she was able to understand and gave her all the information she needed at that age.

‘I’m so proud of how far she has come, she’s just amazing. I love that girl.’

Patrick added: ‘I looked at that first email and I read it over and over again.

‘I thought “that’s our baby”. I just knew with all my being, that connection was meant to be. 

‘The first time I met Jo, I knew within about 30 seconds that I had just come into contact with probably the most determined, feisty little personality I would probably ever meet in my life.

‘The subsequent 15 years have not proven that wrong. And I’m just delighted at the compassionate and thoughtful woman that she has grown into.’

And Jyoti is more than grateful for the support she has received from her family and close friends over the years.

‘They’ve given me a lot of freedom to choose who I want to be and how I want the world to view me,’ she said. ‘I’m very appreciative of that.’

Jyoti started to develop as a boy in utero for around 12 weeks before the process stopped

Jyoti has decided to undergo reconstructive surgery, in the near future, to create a vaginal opening and a vaginal canal.

And she admits that’s mainly because she would like to experience more pleasure in her sex life going forward.

She said: ‘As much as it kind of scares me to have the surgery, because it’s such a big operation, I’m also excited for it.

‘I know what it will mean, I know that this is something I definitely want to do.

‘It’s going to be pretty intense. I decided to do the surgery, mainly because as I get older, I want to have a more typical female sex life.

Jyoti decided to go for the surgery because she wants ‘to have a more typical female sex life’

‘It’s for my own enjoyment and my own pleasure.’

Above all, Jyoti is now looking forward to her future and what the dating world will bring to her.

‘I definitely want a family,’ she said. ‘To give another child the opportunities that my parents gave me by adopting them.

‘I think it’s important to voice my story. I just feel it could help other people.’


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