Two days ago, on Thursday August 18th, me and my girlfriend appeared on TLC Netherlands' new show 'TLC Over...' ('TLC about...') with my story as part of an episode on taboos. In the run-up to this show's airing and the recordings over a month ago, there was the strong suggestion by those I talked to including the producer of the show, Saskia Elings, at Palm Plus Media, that they'd really cover my story and had a lot of interest in it. During the recordings the host of the show, Birgit Schuurman, even mentioned repeatedly how important she thought that covering the need for me to get that final surgery which would open up my female side was. To me she said that she hoped the broadcast would help me get said surgery, itself being impossible in the Netherlands due to outdated protocols and morals. In the end, though, the episode was about 80% filled with a prostitute trying to convince her mom that her way of earning money was just fine. There was also this guy with a cast fetish and finally as the smallest segment there was my part, summarized as me having a hard time, but now I finally found love and everything is fine now. Not a word about the surgery, or the other big issues I am still dealing with. The intersex tragedy was merely glossed over.
After swallowing some more bitter disappointment I sent the producer the following email (translated from Dutch):
"After having seen the episode I can say that I have no interest whatsoever to put it on my site. Literally only 10% of the episode was spent on my topic, or even less. It quickly skimmed over my problems and after that that I am now supposedly happy because I have found love. Everything I have told about the surgery I still need and such weren't included. Even though Birgit (ed: host of the show) and the others during the recordings indicated that they found this to be very important. During the recordings my partner and I talked a great deal about this subject due to this.
"This while especially the SM fetish got a lot of attention with also a bit of cast fetish. The result was a relatively weak episode which brought very few taboos to one's attention. For what calls itself 'the Learning Channel' this was a downright humiliation. The required surgery for me is exactly what this taboo is about since this surgery can simply not be done in the Netherlands by surgeons exactly because it is a taboo. The Netherlands is a heavily conservative country.
"I do not regret cooperating on this show, but it was a major disappointment and will ultimately mean nothing to me or other intersexuals. This is a huge missed opportunity. The next time that I'll get an offer like this for an appearance on a show I'll look at it much more critically before I'll sign up."
Considering that I'm still trapped in a country where politicians, physicians and psychologists alike deny the existence of intersex, or that these are individuals with their own human rights instead of toys to be used at their leisure, I'd hardly say that I'm in a happy place yet. In fact I'd say that the nightmare I have been stuck in for decades has lessened in severity, but the moment I relent in my efforts it'll still be game over. The VUmc's gender team and the other physicians and psychologists I came into contact with still want to save their own skin and will gladly sacrifice me to accomplish that. They will deny that they made any mistakes in my case, and that they're doing anything (morally) wrong in the case of other intersex individuals, including infants who can not even fight back. This are still the trenches in a long, exhausting and very dirty war.
After the mess at the Dolhuys museum and this TLC fluffy reality show it's hard to really put one's faith into any more public events. One possible exception which I hope will work out is an event called 'De Donkere Kamer' ('The Dark Room'), which is organized together with Pride Photo Award. As the brochure states: "Monday evening 22 October 2012 a special edition of De Donkere Kamer will take place, made in cooperation with Pride Photo Award. This special edition of De Donkere Kamer looks for three photographers who feel inspired by the theme sexual- and gender diversity and who want to pitch their project in three minutes with as goal to collect money for realizing their project. The public determines how the entry money for the evening will be divided over the three projects. Pride Photo Award is an international photo contest about sexual- and gender diversity. They fight for a more nuanced image of homosexuals and lesbians in the international view. Go for more information to the website of Pride Photo Award: www.pridephotoaward.org"
The photographer who took the pictures of me for the article in the AD newspaper earlier this year, and whose pictures also appeared in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper with the article on me, contacted me in relation to this event. This photographer, Eric Brinkhorst, submitted his pitch to the contest involving helping me get that surgery I mentioned earlier and promoting the intersex cause. His pitch got accepted and last Thursday we took the pictures of me (and my girlfriend, of course) which will be shown during the pitch on Monday. I'll be present there as well.
I think that people like Eric are the people who actually get the intersex tragedy and will help to bring it to the attention of people. Naturally this event isn't without benefit to him, but it's also an example which shows that one can do proper journalism and still gain something from it. Fluffy reality shows are for the mindless public. Journalism is for those who want to expand borders and right that which is wrong while making their name part of history.
Here's to hoping that Monday's event will somewhat restore my faith in things after this last series of less than pleasant happenings.