Sunday, 17 February 2013

Letter To Dutch Prince Willem-Alexander And Princess Máxima

I sent the below letter (in Dutch) earlier this week to the Dutch Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Máxima, in order to ask for their attention for the way intersex individuals are being treated in Dutch society. As Willem-Alexander will soon take over the role of his mother, Queen Beatrix, he'll be in a position where he can influence politics. Hopefully he'll be more receptive than Queen Beatrix, whom I wrote twice back in 2011, but which did not result in anything. Of course, that was long before I got formal recognition of my intersex condition.


Dear Prince Willem-Alexander, Princess Máxima,

I am writing to the two of you regarding the position, rights and treatment of intersex individuals in the Netherlands.

These are people who are born with an anatomy which as a whole can not be considered male or female. About 1 in every 100 to 1 in every 25 children is born with a form of intersex, which can be both genetic and hormonal in origin.

I am what one calls a hermaphrodite: a combination of both male and female tissue, usually from a dizygotic twin. This is a quite rare form of intersex. However it took about eight years before I received partial recognition of this in the Netherlands, years after it had been recognized in Germany. This turns out to be the rule and not the exception for intersex individuals in the Netherlands.

In 2005 I went to the gender team of the VUmc hospital in Amsterdam for the first time, after I had found out that the undetermined feeling I had been walking around with for years was that I had never chosen which role I wanted to live: a male or female role. At first I thought I had to be transsexual, but after any research I found out that there exists something like intersex, and that this completely befit me. I had namely never had any feelings which would fit with a transsexual person.

At the VUmc they refused however to perform any examinations which could show whether I was indeed intersex. Instead I got treated as a transsexual person, which offended me. At other Dutch hospitals (AMC, Erasmus, OLVG, UMCG, UMC) I wasn't welcomed either, even after I had funded an MRI scan myself in December 2001 in Germany, where they concluded that I have both male and female reproductive organs. These results were ignored in Dutch hospitals.

Since that day a second German clinic has confirmed these results and a German surgeon in October 2011 performed an exploratory surgery which once again confirmed the MRI results. I was there at this surgeon because for an official gender change (from male to female) I had to prove that I wasn't fertile as a male. This is a requirement in Dutch law for intersex and transsexual individuals, something which most countries do not require any more. Ironically enough was this procedure (orchiectomy) not legal in the Netherlands.

In March 2012 the court in Alkmaar [red: the Netherlands] agreed to the gender change in my birth certificate, whereby they took some leniency in interpreting the law article, since at my birth both sides weren't externally visible. I am now the first officially recognized intersex individual in the Netherlands. This led to a lot of media attention, among others from NRC Handelsblad. You can read the relevant news articles on my website (

Shortly after this all I have started via my current personal injury lawyer, Yme Drost, a case against the VUmc gender team at the medical disciplinary commission in Amsterdam. In about a month time the first public hearing will take place. The allegations against the VUmc concern among other things the formulation of a wrong diagnosis, not providing sufficient psychological help, not following of existing protocols and violating my right to decide about my own body.

Yet my case isn't an exception in the Netherlands. The current medical approach is aimed at the denial and removal of intersex characteristics with newborns, as well as the assigning of a gender, usually before the first year. Those who I have encountered as adults who have gone through this speak only negatively about it. They feel damaged, even mutilated, since they have never been able to decide which gender and associated role they wanted to have and live. In the end a gender is a completely personal choice, and not something which parents and physicians can decide about.

Considering this, and also considering the impending abdication of Her Majesty, Queen Beatrix, this seems like the moment when the Netherlands can start a new chapter concerning human rights. Both with finally introducing the Yogyakarta principles, as well as by recognizing intersex individuals in the law, through which they would receive the right to determine themselves about how they want to live their lives, even if it's not as 'male' or 'female'.

A concrete point where the law has to be adapted is that of basic health insurance where the full coverage of treatments is determined. At this point it's so that if a transsexual person who goes from a male to a female role and has the facial hair growth removed, this gets fully covered. For an intersex person does something similar this is however not possible, including for yours truly. Both CVZ, SKGZ and Unive refuse to acknowledge at this point that both scenarios are even remotely comparable. For me there is a significant financial factor, as well as the psychological stress from this discrimination.

Thank you for reading this letter, and I hope you will think about these matters. You can read more about my story and background information on my website. If you have any further questions you can always contact me.

My heartfelt thanks in advance,

Maya Posch



Thursday, 14 February 2013

You Should Be Living Your Life Instead

In a comment to the post I made on Google+ yesterday concerning my previous blog post, Ricardo Vasconcelos said the following regarding my struggle against the Dutch medical system:

"I can't even begin to comprehend all that science. I hope everything works out for you, in the long run. It's sad that you are forced to waste so much time with all this nonsense... you should be living your life instead."

This one comment really quite hit me as it so closely approaches the bare, undiluted truth. As I replied to him: "I try not to think about it that way. You're right of course, but if I considered all that I have lost and never will experience due to what has been done to me, I'd go crazy."

Sitting there on Tuesday in the same room with two of the people who have hurt me so much. Who together with other Dutch physicians and the like have been responsible for me wasting nearly ten years of my life. Wasted it on what amounts to absolute and utter nonsense. The arrogance and ignorance of humanity brought together. A tragic repeat of history.

Just thinking about it all I have to really try to not succumb to tears. I want to cry, to scream and rage until I have no more energy left and I'm completely numb inside. Keeping back these tears isn't possible. I'm not ashamed to cry. I only feel ashamed for those who have and are hurting me. Everyone at the VUmc's gender team. The UMCG hospital's gender team. The Erasmus MC, AMC and UMC hospitals. Dutch Minister of Health Edith Schippers. All of the Dutch political parties, of whom none bothered to even take me seriously. I feel ashamed of them. Ashamed to be the same species.

I also feel ashamed of the Dutch police. Of so many general practitioners who never bothered to understand me. I find it so very hard to be living in the same world as all of these people. I'd rather wish they had never existed.

After Tuesday's initial hearing against the VUmc's gender team I felt completely broken. The next day I was suffering from a migraine. Today I'm trying to work again and tried to make it into a somewhat fun Valentine's day for myself and my girlfriend by going to the cinema for a fun movie. I feel a lot less miserable than I did yesterday. That's good.

Yesterday I had to deal with a few phone calls from a psychologist-in-training. As part of the legal harassment against me by the state I have to undergo a psychological examination to find out whether I truly suffer from PTSD and such disorders, and whether this truly led to me suffering a blackout when a certain GP at the Medical Center in Rijssen pushed too many of my buttons. Willingly, it seems. I was supposed to be having that examination yesterday, but I obviously was in no condition to attend it. I already let my lawyer know that I won't be able to deal with that case at all until at least the case against the VUmc's gender team has come to an end. Dealing with those two things at the same time is just too much for any person to deal with. Forcing me to deal with both would be inhumane.

In addition, that incident as mentioned occurred after years of psychological torture and rejection by Dutch physicians, psychologists and politicians, and was a direct result of the GP's office members treating me with the same contempt other Dutch medical staff had treated me. This in the clear knowledge of the traumatic disorders I was dealing with. This makes me into a victim of that event, and this legal harassment by the state makes me into a double victim. This has to be corrected somehow. I'm afraid of what might happen otherwise.

In all of this, yet again the clear realization that I need to be able to live, somehow. I'm glad that the case against the Dutch hospitals is finally making progress now, and I can't wait until the first public hearing. I hope to get and finish a lot of freelance software projects this and next month so that I can get the money I need to support myself and my girlfriend. The way things are looking at the moment I know that I'll be living, somehow.

I just don't really feel like I'm living my life, or any life which isn't merely a sad tragedy for the history books.


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Conclusion Of Initial Hearing Against VUmc Gender Team

Yesterday was the initial hearing against the Amsterdam VUmc hospital's gender team. I was present with my lawyer, Yme Drost. The VUmc gender team was represented by Prof. Dr. P.T. Cohen-Kettenis (psychologist) representing the other defendants, Ms. mr. A.J.G.M. Janssen (jurist for the VUmc) and their lawyer. This closed hearing took about an hour and a half, during which most aspects of the case were touched upon.

Cohen insisted that the VUmc had handled properly, that they had performed as is routine a hormone level and external physical examination during which no indications of intersex were found. My response to this was that the hormone levels the VUmc supposedly had found didn't match up with those later found during the hormone treatment I underwent. Specifically the VUmc had indicated a testosterone level of 21 nM/L on a normal male range of 7-20 nM/L, where a female top range is around 0.7 nM/L. During the use of testosterone blockers I found that I needed only 25 mg/day whereas a dose of 100 mg/day is what a Male to Female transsexual would use to get testosterone levels down to female levels. This would suggest that I couldn't have had a testosterone level of more than 20/4 or 5 nM/L.

I suggested to the man presiding over the hearing that this could either mean that the VUmc's hormone level testing was done improperly resulting in a wrong result, or that something else had happened. Upon me mentioning this, Cohen and her lawyer started whispering to each other, as observed by my girlfriend who was sitting in the public section. Seemingly this must have had some impact. The rest of the hearing went on pretty much like this; the VUmc side kept to its story of being caring, attentive people, while I and my lawyer deconstructed each of these points.

Near the end of the hearing it was agreed that the complaints against the VUmc gender team would be extended by an additional item: that they had failed to provide proper psychological care when I had directly indicated to them that I was thinking of committing suicide and when I had indicated that I had attempted self-castration. It was also agreed that the disciplinary commission and the VUmc's lawyer would receive copies of the MRI scans made and the associated reports.

The next hearing should take place within about six weeks time. This hearing will then be public. I feel quite confident about it, especially after seeing what we're up against like this during the hearing. Most remarkable I thought was that just before we went into the hearing room when I shook Cohen's hand for the first time she seemed quite confident, but after the hearing when we shook hands again I tried to look her into the eyes again but this time she seemed fairly timid and averted her gaze.

I'm very curious as to how this case will develop from this point, and am looking forward to the first public hearing. Anyone of you is welcome to visit it as well. I will publish the location and date when I know more.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Hello, I'm An Intersex Person, Though I Actually Do Not Exist

Truth to be told, I and others with me often feel as though we are some variety of fantastical creatures; rare and illusive like unicorns and fairies. When someone spots one of us, it's as though a wonderful world never before imagined opens up to them, with myriad new possibilities and ideas. And yet what we symbolize at least at this moment in time isn't something of fantastical discoveries and freedom, but merely yet another tragic chapter of oppression, suppression and eradication in Humankind's history.

For we are intersex individuals. We are born like every other human being, but the society we are born into follows an almost movie-like cliche of binary variation between individual human beings: either male or female. Each is neatly differentiated by a specific set of reproductive organs, surrounded by myths, preconceptions and tired old jokes, expected to find an individual with the other set of reproductive organs and to produce offspring. And all was well.

Unfortunately Mother Nature/evolution doesn't work like that. Things like sex chromosomes, gender, biological sex, determination of sex and hermaphroditism form a fluid continuum throughout the Animal Kingdom. Whatever works goes. Cliches bred in oppressive human systems have no relevance on reality. Yet human society has imposed its own meta-reality on top of this reality. What used to have many shades of grey now only has two very distinct shades of black and white. And thus all of us - the shades of grey - vanish into the Aether.

I'm being forced to defend in just over a week again that I as an intersex individual not only exist, but should also be recognized as such and acknowledged to have the same human rights as every other... well, human. This to me indicates that society in general, or at least the medical and political systems governing it, do not recognize me as being a human being. I do not get those human rights, ergo I'm not human. Just like how African slaves in the old USA and elsewhere were considered to be inferior humans, more beasts, and thus didn't deserve to be treated like a human being.

What I did get offered, was to essentially commit suicide. I'd have to give up my physical body and the emotional and other attachments I might have to it. The brainwashing by physicians and psychologists was supposed to take care of this. This is the same thing which happens to many intersex infants every day again, world-wide. Yet they do not even have the reasoning power or awareness to realize that being forced to adopt a sex and accompanying gender role is a violation of not only basic human rights. It violates the basic tenet of being a living, breathing being: to survive and to thrive.

Yet refuse and you find yourself cast out of society, in so many ways. Sure, I still pay my taxes, have a place I live in and shop at the local grocery store like everyone else, but that's just this shell which is tolerated to exist. Me as a person, a human being, a living, breathing being who might want to feel acceptance and joy at least once in a while...

Giving up this body and mind would lead to acceptance, refusing to give it up, leads to being cast out and shunned. Doomed if you do, doomed if you don't.

Revolution has a nice ring to it.