Monday, 16 April 2012

The Long Road To Understanding And Freedom

A few moments ago I read a post by someone on Google+ who asked me whether I want to watch the BBC documentary on the intersex taboo which is being shown on Belgian TV today. My answer was and still is no. Even just thinking about that documentary makes me feel so incredibly sad and filled with agony. I just want to cry, scream, yell, punch things, destroy everything including this hateful body of mine in a single blast of pure anger.

To immediately evoke Godwin's Law right off the bat, asking me to watch a documentary on the sufferings of intersex people is akin to asking a prisoner of a Nazi concentration camp, or Khmer Rouge persona non grata to watch the brutality inflicted upon fellow victims of those respective regimes. It basically amounts to a form of psychological torture.

It's extremely hard for me to read, watch or hear anything related to intersex as pretty much anything involves the ignorance, brutality and mindless violence and human rights violations inflicted upon those unfortunate enough to be born into a body which isn't 'acceptable'. In that sense the Khmer Rouge or Nazi comparison really isn't that far-fetched. Whether it's through executions, concentration camps or forced surgery, they all violate human rights in such a fundamental way that it is almost incomprehensible that such a thing could still be allowed at this point.

Then again, it took the Dutch government until 2002 to even admit that the Nazi regime also murdered many homosexuals as part of their genocidal policies, previously only admitting to Jews and (grudgingly) gypsies. Covering up atrocities isn't an uncommon thing for the Dutch governments or many other Western and non-Western governments, it seems.

It is only now during the last few weeks since the legal recognition of me as a hermaphrodite and by obtaining the legal right to change my legal gender to 'female', without having to conform to the aforementioned forced surgery the Dutch medical and political systems are still totally fine with, that I'm beginning to realize what a major victory it really is. While my intent was only to prevent the humiliation I had to undergo every single time I had to identify myself, its implications are far-reaching. In essence it's the foothold required to begin to break down this atrocious system.

Today I was featured in Dutch TV show 'Koffietijd' on one of the more popular commercial channels [1]. It was kind of fun to be traveling to the western part of the country again. After arriving safely at the studio I noticed two things above all. The first was that no one really understood what I am aside from the people I had talked with before. The lack of awareness is still astounding, though people did remember the newspaper article when asked about it. This is what I mean when I say that such documentaries like the one I referred to earlier are virtually useless, as they're too easily forgotten and do not leave a lasting impression.

The other thing I noticed was how greedy the media uses my story, albeit in a quite respectful fashion. The show started off with a brief overview of the topics they'd cover, whereby a shot of me walking towards the entrance of the studio (recorded earlier) was used right off the bat. Then they put me in a shot for the next segment announcement, yet again as a teaser. The segment I was featured in was completely at the end of the show, and I was given far more time than any of the other guests. The interview itself also went very well, with the two hosts asking just the right questions, making for a very enjoyable and informative experience.

This whole experience yet again outlines how this issue should be addressed; it isn't something for a documentary, but something which should be brought close to the people. As people learn about other people and events they are very skilled at filtering out what is essential to them. They will generally only remember a documentary with the emotional investment of watching a fictional movie, or less. For them to realize that the issue is actually real and could happen or has happened to their own children, friends, family and so on, that takes something which gets through that filter.

I will be frank and say that I find it hard to associate with many intersex people. This is not so strange as I find it hard to associate with many people, regardless of their further physical or other specifications. This is another human quality I am not unique in. This does however mean that in order for the intersex taboo to be made a topic of discussion a single person has to become the topic of extreme controversy, whereby that person is intersex and has undergone systematic abuse by the medical and other systems. That person also has to be easy to identify with for the average person. If it's possible to dismiss that person for some reason, such as an overzealous drive for attention, wallowing in self-pity, questionable facts, questionable habits, or other undesirable traits, that person isn't suitable. This person also has to be willing to completely surrender any semblance of privacy.

At this point it appears that I am this person. Despite accusations by some to the contrary, I am generally well-liked, easy to identify with and not afraid to show that I'm just a human being like everybody else. I'm not special and wouldn't think of or consider portraying myself in a fashion which doesn't feel like 'me'. I do not want to lead the intersex movement, I do not want to be intersex and do not really care about it. I just want to live like anyone else. Yet due to the medical and government policies I have been forced into this role and am trying to do the best I can in this tough situation. Heck, even just typing this paragraph has made me question the factuality of what I just wrote. I'm so uncertain about myself that I could almost be called human :)

In the end there's still a very, very long and extremely tough road ahead of me. The judicial acknowledgement was a mere stay of execution and doesn't bring me out of the danger zone when it comes to finances or suicidal urges. To get out of this situation where I'm still very much at risk of getting fatally triggered, and taking my own life as a result, will take a lot more work. As I wrote before, I'm beset by feelings of terror, panic and urges to inflict lethal harm upon my body to end those feelings pretty much every waking moment. The best I can still do at this point is to put it all to the back of my mind. Yet the true freedom where those feelings and resulting urges are completely gone isn't within reach, in sight or even theoretically possible at this point.

While the media therapy - as I call it - is doing miracles for my energy levels and my general mood and I'm not dissatisfied with the levels of media attention so far, the realization of how bloody long this path still ahead of me is is almost enough to make me lose hope. It's not easy to walk down the same path alone for so many years. Hopefully I'll get some companionship soon.




Haakon Rian Ueland said...

Maya, may I suggest you consider moving to Norway? I believe this is a humanitarian country, and for a person of your competence, it should be easy to find a (very well paid) job.

Best regards,

Maya Posch said...

Hi Haakon, Norway is one of the many countries I have tried to find a job in for over a year, but without any luck. It would be a much better country than the Netherlands for sure, though...