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 (www.mayaposch.com).
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,