Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Psychology Behind Unive's Discrimination Against Intersex

Today I received another letter from SKGZ. As with every time since the hearing a while ago, I fear that it's the letter spelling out their conclusion. At stake is thousands of Euros for me which I have spent already over the past years, as well as the basic human rights of intersex individuals. Right now intersex individuals do not exist in medical insurance coverage. When it comes to hair-removal due to hormonal imbalances, or specific types of therapies and surgeries, regular males and females as well as transgender individuals are covered. Yet intersex individuals do not exist in these regulations.

The Dutch government determines what is and isn't covered in the base insurance which all health insurance companies have to provide, and yet they failed to cover a condition which has been known for decades, as evidenced by the 1980s Dutch law I used earlier this year to have my official gender changed, which specifically is aimed at intersex individuals. And thus uncaring insurance companies like Unive feel justified in discriminating against a group which isn't even acknowledged by their own government, aside from a few artifacts.

Today's letter from SKGZ, which has the power to change health insurance coverage, wasn't anything conclusive, thankfully, though it did contain a response from Unive on the additional medical evidence I had sent to SKGZ after the hearing to fortify my claim that I am in fact intersex. SKGZ has fortunately already recognized that there is a gap in the regulations where intersex individuals should have been covered. Now they just need to acknowledge that I am indeed intersex. Why I think that this might be an issue is because in the Netherlands no one has ever acknowledged me as being intersex outside the Alkmaar court and this one physician at the ZGT Almelo. This is probably exactly why Unive is persisting in their current course.

The response from Unive was essentially that they had sent the MRI scans, German medical reports, the ZGT Almelo physician's statement, etc. to their medical advisers, who supposedly then told Unive that they saw no reason to change from their earlier position, that my situation doesn't necessitate them to fully cover the therapies I am forced to undergo as a result of my intersex condition, and that there's no reason for them to clarify their position in any way or fashion.

This arrogant stance can in my view only be due to a smug sense at Unive's side that SKGZ will also deny that I'm intersex and thus deny my claim against Unive. This is a worry I also expressed to SKGZ during the hearing, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Of course, if SKGZ does this, they'd go in against the findings of three German clinics and the judgement of the Dutch legal system, as all of these have found me to be intersex.

I really hope that this will all be over soon and that SKGZ will decide in my favour. It'd really make my life a lot easier knowing that there's still the possibility of justice in the Netherlands despite everything.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Finding A Surgeon, Help With It And Media Attention

A few weeks ago there was the possibility that I'd be appearing on the KRO-NRCV discussion show 'Debat op 2' ('Debate on 2'), regarding the SCP report on the treatment of transgenders in the Netherlands. This at the recommendation of a Dutch transgender woman I have communicated with before. After discussing my topic with the editor of the show and waiting for him to get back to me the next day, I learned that I would not be on the show, but that the NCRV has interest in making a documentary about my story. The editor expressed a distinct interest in coupling this with the surgery I still need, specifically the surgery whereby my existing vagina will be attached to the perineum and labia created. This surgery is impossible in the Netherlands due to the refusal of Dutch surgeons to a) acknowledge that I'm intersex, b) that it would even be possible and c) because they only do male to female and female to male surgeries here.

For this reason I have to find a surgeon elsewhere in the world, in Europe or outside it. I started researching this one hospital near Berlin someone had mentioned a while ago, but I couldn't remember the name and a Google search wasn't fruitful either. Worse, the resulting search results related to mostly intersex issues and troubles brought back a lot of unpleasant memories for me. Feeling sickened but still determined to find a surgeon to get this last surgery out of the way, I asked for help on Google+ [1] and Facebook [2]. The responses I got are pretty encouraging.

The most interesting of the responses involves one Marci Bowers [3], a famous US surgeon who performs free surgeries for genitally mutilated women. I'm not sure whether she'd be interested in my case, but it's worth a try. Another response I got involves two German clinics who perform vagina reconstructions. I have contacted these clinics as well. I'm most interested in learning what they think of my case.

I also hope that I'll be able to arrange this surgery soon due to the media attention there is now. There's this documentary by the NCRV, and also the attention from Pride Photo Award, who have contacted the photographer - Eric Brinkhorst - who is working with me and my girlfriend to produce the series, to express their interest. The surgery would be an excellent focus point. This should be an awesome way to start the new year, is my thinking.

Here's paws crossed to a successful few months :)


[1] https://plus.google.com/114822401067576646327/posts/FqJEfPVqCV3
[2] https://www.facebook.com/mayaposch/posts/534357153242737
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marci_Bowers

Friday, 2 November 2012

Hearing Against Unive: Aftermath

Last Wednesday I had the hearing against Unive which I discussed previously. To summarize: my insurance company (Unive) refuses to fully cover the electrolysis therapy I require to remove the facial hair I suffer from as a result of my intersex condition messing up my testosterone balance. Their excuse is that my situation isn't covered by the existing policy conditions for regular women or transsexuals and thus it's not comparable.

The hearing at the SKGZ office in Zeist, Netherlands, took only about half an hour. The representative from Unive was called in by phone. I won't go into the details of the entire hearing as it was mostly a summing up of the current facts, and Unive insisting that there was no evidence of me even being intersex, including that according to Unive's medical advisers the merging of two embryos resulting into an intersex person is impossible. The lawyer representing SKGZ then suggested to Unive that maybe there is a hole in the regulations where there should be something about intersex individuals in addition to women and transsexuals. Unive grudgingly admitted to this. At this point it felt like things were heading in the right direction for me.

Then it was determined that although SKGZ had the ruling by the court in Alkmaar that I could change my legal gender due to being intersex, the only medical reports SKGZ had were the letters by the surgeon in Germany, which were deemed insufficient as more details would be required. I told SKGZ that I would send them the MRI and other reports, as well as copies of the MRI scans themselves the same day. I did also inform SKGZ that Unive had so far refused any cooperation when it came to genetic research for me outside the Netherlands, and also of the legal case I have running against the VUmc gender team due to them and other Dutch hospitals falsely declaring that I am not intersex. I expressed my worry that a similar thing would happen at the SKGZ. I got ensured that this would not happen. After this the hearing soon ended.

Once home I submitted the requested data to SKGZ. I am currently awaiting further details on what they decide. I expect that they will conclude just like the Alkmaar court that I am in fact intersex and that there's no existing clause in the insurance policy covering people like me, and thus a new one will have to be added for people like me. This should ideally give me that which I desire: recognition as intersex by my insurance company and thus intersex as a recognized condition by insurance companies in the Netherlands, plus compensation for the many thousands of Euros I had to pay myself for this electrolysis therapy which I require to deal with the strong emotional impact of being a woman in looks but with something which could grow into something resembling a beard.

In summary: there's still absolutely nothing for intersex people in the Netherlands, but if this works out the way I hope, there'll soon by another piece of the required recognition.