As I'm sitting here, looking out of a window at sunlit trees and other green, I can only really consider all that is happening right now part of something akin to the seasons. I have had my autumn as I embarked on my quest to find answers, or maybe even before it already. Then the long winter as every chance and opportunity just dried up and shriveled away, until a few dots of light signaled the end of winter. Now it's finally time for spring.
Today was indicative of this more than ever before. Aside from working on what has to be one of the best jobs one could wish for, I had a few communications today which make it clear how far things have changed. One of these was a response from Janet Green from Accord Alliance, a US organization claiming to support the intersex cause. I had updated her recently about how things had gone for me since we last talked, about two years ago. She was very happy to hear how things had changed, and expressed her understanding for how much energy fighting for justice takes.
Another communication was with Dr. Bowers, a US surgeon. I had contacted her late last year to ask her whether she would be able to help me with my last surgery. It took many months to get a first response, which was rather negative. She basically denounced me for having the nerve to sue the Dutch hospitals, insisting that they too had just done their best. This led me to write a response:
"Dear Dr. Bowers,
I'm sorry to hear about your objections. If you had read up on my story in any manner you'd have realized that the issue was not between my previous providers and me, but between the Dutch and German providers, each of which had drawn a completely opposite conclusion. In the end it was the German conclusion - of me being intersex - which turned out to be the correct one. Demanding satisfaction from those who cost me years of my life due to incorrect diagnostics and other failings then is nothing more than the reasonable course of action. I'm sure you would agree with me on that.
Attached you'll find an example of an MRI scan made a few years ago which clearly shows the relevant details. Three German hospitals have independently confirmed me as being intersex (hermaphrodite) based upon these and other MRI scans in addition to further examinations.
The reason why I contacted [you - red] was because of others telling me about your work with women who had suffered genital mutilation. This made me think you'd be a passionate and caring person. I do however at this point not feel any inclination to pursue any further relations with you in order to get any kind of medical procedure performed. The first duty of a healthcare provider is to consider the patient's needs and concerns. I do not feel that this has been met in any sufficient manner in my case.
Terribly sorry you feel this way towards my response. I think if, in hindsight, you re-read my words, you will find the compasssion (sic) and sincerity for which I am known.
On the other hand, medicine as a specialty, is challenging. It faces each of us, caring and compassionate as we may try to be, with challenges and nuances, that are often as vexing as they are fascinating. Your condition is delicate, unusual and subtle. While I agree with the ideal that listening to you and searching further in the face of conflicting information would have been the proper course for your Dutch providers, I do not feel that your response to sue and hold those persons accountable, is either socially responsible or personally moral. Those of us in the trans community search, often in vain, for providers of even the most basic care and medical ser5vices (sic). Responses and attitudes such as you appear to hold only compromises the willingness and resolve of future potential providers to offer that care and to reach and understand"
With this last exchange another lead fizzles out, but I honestly do not feel too bad about it.
I still have to contact that other surgeon I talked about yesterday. It's hard for me to make that step to once again contact a hospital and specialist about this issue. Much harder than I had anticipated. I spent part of today simply crying because of the pain and confusion I felt as countless memories resurfaced. Of sitting hyperventilating in waiting rooms, anxiously awaiting another denial and careless dismissal. While I can put myself over it, I do not wish to damage myself further, psychologically. Yet I still need that surgeon who'll help me to finish what I started.
Finally, I got mailed a link today to an article on the Pride Photo Award site. It's a news article about the exposition I talked about yesterday, and contains a huge section about my story and the questionable idea of performing genital surgery on infants and children. I felt pretty happy about it, as though I'm already making very positive waves. Here's the article (English version): http://www.pridephotoaward.org/archives/3038
Excerpt: "Children like Maya are born almost every day. Medics and parents choose whether the child should have male or female genitalia, which are then (re)constructed surgically. "But how can they know if their children will identify as that gender", Brinkhorst wonders."
Here's to a beautiful spring and even better summer.