Saturday, 2 November 2013

Media Madness; Thank You, Germany

First of all I'd like to apologize for any inconsistencies or nonsensical ramblings in the following text. I still haven't fully recovered from the happenings yesterday, which included four interviews, one of which requiring me to travel to Amsterdam to be present at the Netherlands' most important current affairs talkshow, Pauw & Witteman. It wasn't until 3 AM that I finally made it to my bed. Come Monday it'll all start again, with at least one more major interview scheduled.

The thing which set this all off was the decision by Germany to introduce a third gender option, basically an 'undetermined' option for when a child is born with unclear gender. This will allow said child to make any decision later and relieves parents and physicians from any pressure to make a decision and perform harmful, unneeded and forced genital surgery on an infant. Yesterday this new law became active and thus media around the world worked themselves up into a frenzy. I was one of those intersex individuals who got pounced upon to give my opinion.

To give an idea of how crazy yesterday was: late Thursday I just had one interview scheduled for Friday. A brief, 3-minute piece on Dutch Radio 2. Before noon on Friday, however, I had been contacted by a journalist for UK's Channel 4 News, another from BBC's World Service and the aforementioned talkshow. This resulted in a crammed-full schedule with regular phone calls as things got set up, a Skype interview and then a train journey to Amsterdam for Pauw & Witteman. Before heading off to the latter I also had to gather up and send photos and other materials, some of which still had to be scanned in.

The Channel 4 News interview was brief but fun and I heard from others that it looked quite well. The 3-minute radio interview went well too, with the hours of preparation somewhat silly in retrospect. The discussion I joined by BBC's World Have Your Say was disappointing with one of those staunch intersex organization fanatics taking the lead, with me and most of the others getting virtually no speaking time.

After those three interviews/discussions it was time to travel to Amsterdam for the talkshow. To be honest it was rather cool that I got invited for this. As far as news in the Netherlands goes it's about as far as one can get with a topic. It'd also be largely be about just me, with the general topic of intersex secondary. One could say that with this a dream of many years has come true.

On the way to Amsterdam I also found myself in interesting company, including a Polish guy, a Russian man and Dutch girl with an interest in Russian, Polish and other languages. It definitely made the time pass pretty quickly. Once in Amsterdam I walked to the studio from the central station, a brisk 20-minute walk. Though I hadn't been in Amsterdam's center for a while it was nevertheless still very familiar. It was the first time I walked the route again which brought me to near where the British girl I once dated used to live. This made it feel... strange, considering how much I and my situation have changed since then.

I arrived in time at the studio, where I was received by very friendly assistants. After running through the script with the main editor of the talkshow I was run through the obligatory make-up session, followed by the notification that it was almost time for the (live) show to start. Gathering at the studio's doors, we all awaited our cue. The rest is basically as seen in the broadcast of November 1st of the show. Despite initial doubts by the editor of the show that I might be somewhat too timid, she was really quite impressed after the show. First thing I heard from her was that the Twitter and other social media responses had exploded. People from the audience also wished to talk with me, expression their utmost respect and sympathy for me.

I must say that I felt quite flattered by it all. The show itself went very well, with me getting to say pretty much everything which needed to be said. Though I haven't rewatched the show (yet), I have only heard positive feedback on it, via Facebook, Twitter and the flood of emails I received via my site. I'm still working my way through those. After the show I spent some time talking with the other guests, including one of my idols, biologist Midas Dekkers, the journalist Arnold Karskens and Sunny Bergman. You can see a recording of the whole show as well as individual fragments on this page:

After bidding everyone goodnight I left the studio, to be driven home by a taxi. This taxi driver is regularly hired by the talkshow to drive guests around, including politicians and the like. As a result we had a lot to talk about on the long drive home. Only after arriving at the place where I'm staying did I notice how tired it was. It was nearing 3 AM and I had been up since before 7 AM the previous day. Sleep seemed like a very good idea.

This morning I awoke with a pretty bad headache and general lethargic feeling. I guess it's a normal feeling for those who like to go wild in clubs on Friday night. I hadn't even touched a drop of alcohol the previous day and I already felt like a well-used chewing toy. Even as I am typing this I wouldn't describe my state as 'awake'. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be somewhat back to my usual self.

As things stand, though, despite yesterday being extremely stressful and tiring it nevertheless brought me much of what I had been dreaming off for years: attention, respect and acknowledgement by the media for everything which I had to go through. In many ways it makes me feel a lot less worse about myself and my situation. The flood of positive comments by viewers of the show also contributed a lot. Everyone seems to be rightfully outraged at the VUmc gender team for mistreating my case, as well as sympathetic about me moving to Germany. And it's not over yet.

On Monday I just have a single interview scheduled, with TIME magazine. It'll be interesting to see how that one works out, I guess. So far I'm not sure what format it'll get or how big it's going to be. Time will tell, I guess. Here's to hoping that things don't turn into a media frenzy again like yesterday. Though it's kinda fun, I'm not sure I can keep pulling 20-hour shifts like that :)


1 comment:

Jason Speechley said...

*Big Hugs* :)

WOW!!! what a day

And you still got another interview for Monday.
I was so happy when you told me you had been asked to do the first interview. Then one turned into two, two turned into three, then four.
I honestly don't know how you managed to keep up

I did manage to catch three of the four interviews. Unfortunately I only caught the end of the BBC one.

And you looked absolutely fantastic on the Pauw & Witteman show, I had to wait until after the show so I could watch it online, (and I've really got to get stuck into these Dutch lessons)
you looked so confident and engaging, You really presented your self well and I am so proud of you :) *more hugs*

Good luck on Monday giving Time some of your time ;) can't wait to see/read/hear that one. Just hope you don't get snowed under with interviews again.

<3 you