Robin Hammond/Panos Pictures

Kathmandu, Nepal

Eshan Regmi (29) describes himself as follows: ''My biological identity is intersex. My gender identity is male. I am heterosexual''. He defines intersex as ''those whose internal or external reproductive organs do not match the traditional definition''. Detailing his early life he says: ''I was born in 1989 as a daughter in a lower middle class family. I was a brilliant student, and I was always a topper in my school. At the age of thirteen when I was studying in class eight, I began developing masculine characteristics. My parents were in great pain''. This is when the discrimination began. ''Society began calling me different things. They looked at me differently, and started whispering as soon as I walked by. 'Is this a boy or a girl' and laugh at meâ My friends did not allow me to sit next to them or play with them. Teachers pulled my hair or pinched my breast. I left schoolâ I started spending time alone. I cried a lot. I felt I was alone in this world. Why is god punishing me? I tried committing suicide several times. My parents were saddened to find me in this condition''. He says his father, in particular, never gave up on Eshan. ''My dad was in pain. Because for whatever I was, I was his child and he loved meâ He realised that I was not like other daughters''. Then, his father died. ''I felt that there was nobody left for me in this world. I felt that I was very broken''. Against his family's wishes Eshan left home. He eventually came across Blue Diamond Society, a LGBTI organisation. Their focus was not on intersex but through them he started to learn more about the issue. Eshan started doing work with the organisation. On several occasions he tried to have relationship with women, but it never worked out. That was before he was reunited with an old friend. ''When I felt alone in my village a person had helped me in many ways. She was my only friend. Later, I found out that she wanted to spend her life with me''. Eshan told her all about being intersex. ''I warned her to not be closer. But thankfully it turned out that her childhood friend was just like me. She then agreed to be with me. We decided to live together. I don't know how much she loves me but I love her a lotâ I had nobody and she constantly took care of me''. Complicating their relationship is the fact that they are from different castes. ''I am a Brahmin and she is a Dalit. After my relationship began, my family learned of her caste. They resisted our union but I have always been insistent''. While Eshan's brothers are aware of his partner's caste, his mother is not. ''I have always been rebellious'', he says mischievously. ''My mother does not know my partner's caste, and she has eaten the food cooked from 'an untouchable'.'' While life has much improved, it is far from perfect. ''My identity has been my biggest challenge. I did not get jobs or opportunities. I do not have the chance to live a dignified life and have faced discrimination at every turn''. Spea

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Robin Hammond/Panos Pictures
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3885 x 5000 pixels
32.89 x 42.33 cm (300 dpi)
12.95 x 16.67 inch (300 dpi)
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