Friday, 19 September 2014

Why Being Intersex Mostly Means Having To Defend Yourself

Yesterday morning waking up was the usual mildly agonizing experience. Having to work up enough energy and motivation to get up while still feeling exhausted and with the knowledge of what a frightening place the world is. Usually this goes all right and I manage to numb myself sufficiently to the pain of being alive to lull myself into feeling rather cheerful or at the very least focused on getting things done that day.

On this particular day, however, something went horribly wrong. For some reason I cannot explain I began to think of the mistreatment of me by physicians and other 'specialists' around the world. Worse, memories of these events and many more along with the horrible, gut-wrenching, agonizing feelings that accompanied them came flooding to the surface. Everything that I tend to keep pushed away from my conscious mind on a day to day basis, essentially, in order for me to function as a relatively normal person.

At some point I managed to work myself up into a sitting position, so there I was sitting on the side of my bed (well, mattress on the floor at this point still...), hugging my knees and crying violently while it felt like my insides were about to rip themselves loose. Then the horrible calm sensation and numbness. After I don't know how long of this I got up and managed to start readying myself for the day. This was quite hard, as I kept succumbing to crying in the same violent fashion. Nothing like putting in contact lenses while crying profusely and part of your brain screaming in agony.

At that point I seriously considered calling in sick for the day as I had no idea whether I'd be capable of anything that day. Fortunately I managed to distract myself sufficient for a while to allow me to re-establish my iron grip on my emotional side and more importantly my memories. Rushing through the rest of my preparations, I left for work on the late side. I knew I was late for the morning's meeting, yet there was no way that I could have humanly done it any quicker.

Upon entering the office it was immediately made clear that I was late, by referring to the monetary punishment which some feel is a good idea for late-comers. I ignored this and quickly took my place. Then, after the meeting one of my colleagues came to me and once again reminded me of this punishment. I again didn't respond to this.

How was I going to respond to that? Sorry that I'm late, but I was kind of in emotional dire straits as these horrible traumatic memories of a lost decade involving something terrible which is still ongoing keep troubling my waking and sleeping moments, regularly degrading me to a sobbing pile of misery incapable of functioning? I promise I'll keep a better hold on my traumas next time, sir, thank you, sir, may I have another, sir? Yes, I'll gladly accept this punishment because I absolutely bear the responsibility for having been born into this accursed society with this cursed body?

In the end I simply refused to defend myself. Or maybe I did defend myself in the only way which would not turn me into a pitiful thing, begging for mercy. By not commenting, by refusing to respond to their words which may very well have been just in jest - an innocent joke turned into a lethal dagger stabbing into one's innards - I refused to submit to punishment and hopefully kept my dignity. Even if I felt absolutely miserable due to this experience. I was quite glad that I had a solitary task to work on that morning as I probably wouldn't have been able to interact with anyone after that experience. I felt so numb and frustrated about this disconnect between my reality and their perception. I honestly don't dislike my colleagues, but moments like that make me wish that there was a better way, one which doesn't involve feeling like I have to defend myself.

That day I had lunch with another colleague of mine, who happens to also have migrated to Germany. Sharing this similar experience really helps with the mutual understanding, I feel, even if we don't really talk about personal matters. After this pleasant lunch I felt much recovered and ready to take on the rest of the day. This was a very good thing as I had another item on my agenda that day, namely an interview with this Canadian university student regarding her thesis on intersex.

The interview's topic to be precise was on the interaction between intersex activists and doctors and how things could be improved here, considering the lack of common ground between the two sides at this point. Since I'm also regarded by most as an intersex activist it was deemed that I could maybe explain some matters. During the one and a half hour that the interview took it became pretty clear to both of us that there is no common group of intersex individuals or even activists, that it's all completely split and fragmented. The matter of whether to refer to intersex by its proper name or as some kind of disfiguring, life-threatening disorder ('DSD') being the prime example of this hateful kind of in-fighting and lack of central focus.

What has to happen absolutely immediately is to stop the butchering of infants in order to make them 'normal' during barbaric 'normalization surgeries'. Primarily because it's been known since the 1960s that gender is in the brain and not in one's sex chromosomes or physical sex (else we'd not have transgenders). This makes the common practice of determining an infant or child's 'gender' through its sex chromosomes into pseudo-science at best and a gruesome violation of one's intrinsic human rights ('right to self-determination over one's body') at worst.

After the interview we ended up chatting for another hour. I vented a lot of my frustrations about dealing with life as an intersex individual, particularly my frustration and bitterness over how almost all doctors I have ever met and will maybe meet in the future treat people like me. I mentioned how with every doctor appointment I'll always end up defending myself at some point, due to the refusal by the medical world to provide me with anything other than two completely contradictory diagnoses about what my body is. Why again am I excusing myself for trying to find help and answers? Why don't they understand the agony I experience because of the incompetence of the medical community?

I mentioned this before in my blog post on the TV documentary interview in Berlin, before I went there, how I have given up all hope on ever receiving medical help and am only doing this to help future generations of intersex individuals who hopefully won't have to deal with these levels of shameful ignorance and wilful evil on the side of the medical community. My life is already forfeit, with the only question remaining of how long I can hold out while these traumatic memories and the constant additions to them slowly destroy me from the inside out.

Everything to me already feels like a threat. I keep feeling hunted, as though any second something terrible will happen. When it gets dark and I wander through the unlit rooms and hallway of my apartment, I feel uncomfortable. When I go to bed I feel terrified, as though any moment some monster will lunge at me. I can just see it there already, feel its eyes burning in my back as I try to ignore the thoughts of its evil, sharp-toothed grin in the crack of the bedroom door as it's slightly ajar. Terror, or maybe more accurately the feeling of having to defend myself, is my 'normal' state of being at this point as my life slowly seems to wind its way down to whatever unpleasant climax awaits me.

At the very least let me die in the knowledge that my life hasn't been completely without purpose...


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