Sunday, 17 November 2013

Interview For German Radio And A Bad Cold

Once again my apologies if I seem somewhat unclear or unfocused in the following text. Since waking up this morning I have been afflicted with a bad cold, translating into a very sore throat, stuffed feeling and a general lack of focus. Yesterday morning I already had the sore throat to some extent, but didn't think much of it. I was more concerned with the interview I would be having later that day, this one for a science story regarding intersex on the German radio channel Deutsche Welle. This one will be broadcast in January next year, on the one year anniversary of the 'undetermined gender' law being signed into law in Germany.

While a severe abdominal pain after starting after breakfast that morning had me question my ability to perform the interview, it fortunately passed after about an hour, fading into a mere nagging pain. Upon arrival of the journalist, a stately lady with a fantastic control of her (British) English and German, the interview soon started. While the journalist stayed for about three hours, the interview itself took maybe an hour, due to her profound interest in the subject matter.

What she wanted to know of me were the biological and other technical details of my condition, the way physicians had handled this and my future plans. We also went in-depth on the implications of this German law and explored the ignorance on the matter of intersex in the general populace. An interesting point she raised is that in virtually all spell-checkers used on computers around the world, the word 'hermaphrodite' is recognized, but 'intersex' isn't, as an indication of how unknown this word is, despite the conditions it covers being so incredibly common.

After the interview, during an interesting discussion which followed it, she mentioned a Dutch physician who she will be interviewing at a later point for this story as well. This physician is connected to the Sophia Children's Hospital, itself part of the Erasmus MC, the very same hospital I went to in 2008 on multiple occasions, but where I was rejected as 'not intersex and thus not relevant to them'. I had not seen or heard of this physician until yesterday. Whether he is actually a reasonable person to talk about intersex with I thus do not know, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

One point I had to discuss as well was that of this physician's use of the acronym 'DSD' [1], which stands for 'Disorder of Sex Development', a to most intersex individuals a highly offensive term, as it designates us as having a disorder. Considering that 'disorder' is medically defined as "a disruption of normal physical or mental functions" (Oxford Dictionary, 10th edition) and virtually all people with an intersex condition suffer no such disruption and 'normal' left up for major debate, most of us have a built-in warning system whenever anyone uses the term.

Naturally, it benefits one to give someone the benefit of the doubt, as they may simply not know any better. To me and others it's however extremely hard to take any person seriously who uses such an offensive term. Fortunately the journalist understood this and she will not use the term DSD but instead the neutral 'intersex'. As a person of Asian descent she has come across many similar insults relating to her own appearance, something which sparked another interesting debate. I'm really looking forward to the results of this interview now when the story is broadcast and published.

A less happy thing to happen yesterday is that I finally learned the deadline for when I have to move: the second week of December. Around that week those at whose house I'm staying will be moving as well, leaving me without any realistic options. I will have to do my best to arrange something this week. I'll have to get over my fears and ask my colleagues for updates so that something - anything - can be arranged this month. It's already taken too long to find this place in Germany. If I am unable to find a house, I'll have to just move into a flat or something like it.

It's harder for me to make that decision than you'd assume. The reason for this is connected to the upcoming third anniversary of my first proper suicide attempt, in January of 2011. Back then I couldn't stay at the place where I was living any more either and had to find something quickly an on short notice. It was a horrific time and pushed me finally over the edge to attempt suicide. I'm still not sure I am happy about waking up hours later in the hospital. Faced with an in many ways eerily similar situation is bringing back many horrific memories and thoughts of that period. I'd want to urge anyone who can help me find that place in Karlsruhe or Karlsruhe Area to please do so. I know it's a lot to ask, but this should be the last major thing I'll ever have to ask from you or others.

I just want to be happy that I didn't die back then, nearly two years ago.



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