Write by Marckenley Elie
In Haitian society, women with beards and mustaches face a great ordeal from what people say about them. Often, with fingers pointed at them, whispers while they are in a space usually make them suffer in silence and have no one to turn to, meanwhile their self esteem is being tainted.
Marie a 30 year old vendor who lives in Port-au-Prince, currently going thorught that experience. Her busy schedule, travelling to various cities from time to time as part of her business activities did not allow our editor to meet with her face to face. However, according to what she says to the editor on a phone call, is that she has been having some negatives experience with her fellow Haitians that she comes in contact with especially when she is at work. And other people assumption of her, is that she is a lesbian. A stigma that the community carries and does seem to be invited to the notion of homosexual. For all they know, they are wrong, because Marie is not a lesbian, but she has this biological traits that make her looks like a man. “My friend make fun of me because of how I look,” says Marie. “They say people look at me as a fool.” “Many other people who see me for the first time are surprised and ask me if I was a man,” adds Marie.
Our editorial note on this matter believe that “Marie is not a witch,” another wrongful assumption that is associated as to how she looks. All this assumptions have been evolving around how she looks. Everybody that meets Marie ofter resumed to the idea without any prior question and answer that she is a man.She also comes in contact with men who continuously saying disturbing things about her. “They say how they can never imagine themselves making love to a woman that looks like that, to kiss her, to them it would be to toucch mustach with mustach to another man,” adds Marie. “They call me transvesty because I have a beard and a mustache, but I didn’t choose to have them,” sadly says Marie.
As part of this publication, the editor spoke with Witney, a woman from a private university in Haiti who has the same physical treats as Marie. The student who is pursuing a science major in administration, says that she has been facing the same thing as Marie does. “People often ask if I’m a witch or belong in a witch group. ”I have to tell repeatedly that I’m not a man,nor a witch, the whole experiences with them saying such a thing to me, don’t even feel normal, to have them coming to my face at anytime with such comments,” says the private university student. The sadness part of Marie’s ordeal is that even women, have taken part in the the humiliating treatment of her.
For Witney, even though the comments don’t make her feels good, she still perseveres and doesn’t give in as to how people treat her. She does all that she can as possible so that she doesnt get affected by all the lousy noises around her, regarding who she is. Witney believes she can handle those experiences very well, which is not the same presentiment for Marie. Marie on the other hand, has often feels bother by the inappropriate comments they make about her physical apparence.
“For a long time I have always feel embarrass by these comments.” It shouldn’t be my job to constantly trying to accept who I am, because of other people,” adds Marie.
Marie says she tries so hard to accept herself as she is, despite everything she by far encounters. “I’ve tried to display myself in other different way, and I have rised above all the stigmata and come to accept myself and not dramatize my beard and mustache. From those same experiences, often than not, I come in contact with people who are not surprised but tend to felicitate me,” says Marie.
Meanwhile, Marie continues to explain to our editor that she often surprises people who try to oppose her, but often are surprised when she removed by shaving her facial hair, then she would almost goes as unrecognized too, to many of all these people. “It’s something that bothers me a lot,” says Marie as she recalls why she tried to shave but remember a statement made to her by a man who says he will never do anything with a woman with a mustache because it feels gay.
Marie is looking for many explanations for this biological defect, clinically that is knowns as hirsutism. According to My Cleveland Clinic, found in 1921 is a small outsized clinic, reports that hirsutism is a condition that affects women, although assigned female at birth (AFAB), but carries this physical characteristic.
All of this unfortunate experiences with how people view her, leave Marie with many questions to herself. Even the people that are the closest to her, tend to chime in her situation, aiming to understand what happened to her. “My mother said long before she had me there were many women with mustaches that she recognized, she said she used to like to see them. She thinks that is the reason why I came out the way I did, a little bit superstitious, I know.” Says Marie. Now that she is informed that science has some answers to her condition, she feels a little bit more relieve to know.
Beard, mustache, hairy chest, none of them is normal for a woman to have according to science of medicine
One of our editors spoke with the general physician Perpignant Claudy who works at the State University Hospital of Haiti, also known as the General Hospital. It didn’t take him long to bring an all-important accuracy to this record. He reports that this phenomenon is not normal. “It is a disease that causes this in women. They call this disease “syndrome des ovaires micropolycystiques.“
An hormanal imbalance that have been manifested to the woman body who has it. “A woman with beard and mustache suffers from excess of androgens, especially testosterone, which is a male hormone. It is that same hormone that makes a man have all the characteristics we know,” such as a deeper voice than women, beard and hairier body.
As part of the process to understand more about this hormonal imbalance, the editor spoke with the young internist Kerry Norbrun who did share a lot of information related to Laswenyay from a Social Network. “The female can still have a lot of hair on her body, at a normal rate, and that is simply normal too. These hairs may grow on the legs, on the armpit, and that not where the problem lies,” specifies Kerry. But when a woman starts to have have facial hair, such as small beards, small mustaches, hair on the thighs, on the chest, back, that is when it is a concern and they should consult with a specialist to best know how to approach those imbalances in their hormones.
Marie told us that when she first started to notice her facial hair, she used to always shave them but despite that they grown even more. “There is a solution to eliminate these kind of hairs from women, but it depends on if they have already create a defect, such as deep scaring and marks leaving on the skin causing from extreme hair growth, prior of having them examed by a medical professional,” says Norbrun.
“If the hormone secretion disorder is really bad, there are medicines that can be given for this. If the problem is in the organs, there are interventions that can be done, if there is no cause, they can be eliminated by laser,” adds Norbrun.
Major impact on mental health
Nathalie Cadet who is a psychologist and professor of Psychology at the Light University in Haiti. Committee members of the Haitian Psychology Association (AHPSY) say that bearded women who experience discrimination may develop a self-esteem problem related to their femininity. “She may feel that she is not enough of a woman in the eyes of others. This can make it difficult to accept her difference, and that woman may begins to feel excluded.” What can be said from this, a woman experience these things, may start to grow ambiguous to her feeling of self. Where she neither feels like a woman nor a man, for having these men characteristics that society will not leave her alone about,” says Cadet.
Nathalie Cadet is also the Coordinator of the Psychosocial Cell at the Toya Foundation. Her job is to accompany women who are victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV). She further explains that women who are victims of such discrimination may also develop an identity problem. She says that if this person does not have good personal resources and good social support, it can cause them to suffer from depression and social anxiety.
It is important for those around a person going through that to have open minded conversations with those that may be able to help, so that the person can avoid misinformation about the biological function and their hormonal imbalance.” Those women with hirsutism must not be in the category of dichotomy of gender and sex, there is a clear difference there.
The professional goes on to say that women who have hirsutism, are really no difference from those without it, also that syndrome should not take away the value of a woman in their society. “Difference does not mean inferiority, when a person grows up, their parents and those around them are that individual’s mirror, what is said about them, are often what they ended up believing. If their close one accept them as they are, should everyone esle also accept them as they are, if that person accept, love, value themself as they are, why should we continue trying to have a conclusion for them?” says the psychologist.
Translated by Moïse-Léna Jean-Louis
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