Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Physicians do not understand intersex

Of the email response I sent to that doctor in Frankfurt a few days ago I also sent a copy to my family doctor. This morning I got an email from her, in which she expressed her worry for me. Most particular about her email was her question about why it is so important to me that I'm referred to as being 'intersex'. As she put it, this doctor has offered to perform 'the surgery', just under different conditions.

I wasn't going to discuss that whole matter, especially not in German via email correspondence, so I agreed to make an appointment to discuss it face to face. This appointment will be on Friday. During it I will have to somehow make my family doctor realise the difference between intersex and transsexuality. In particular this 'surgery' she refers to seems to indicate that she thinks that what to me important is is to have a 'sex reassignment surgery' (SRS). Never mind that a transsexual is a healthy person who wishes to transition from one physical sex to another, while I am neither of these two.

To me it's not about undergoing this surgery. If examinations showed that this rudimentary vagina I have is usable for a reconstructive surgery, I will most likely agree to it. If only because at this point it seems like every month fluids are pooling up in it because it is closed off, causing the pain and discomfort as the tissue of this vagina becomes irritated over and over again. If I were to play transsexual, they'd simply keep denying I have this vagina, perform the sex-reassignment surgery, likely forcing me to give up the male member in the process, and ripping out the rudimentary vagina and replacing it with a fake one.

In that case I'd keep the monthly menstruation pains, with possibly dangerous complications as the space provided by the natural vagina would be gone and fluids might end up pooling between my organs instead. I'd also not learn anything about the background of this menstruation, whether I have endometriosis or something similar. I'd simply be written off as another transsexual, and after the SRS I'd be filed away as 'solved'. My intersex condition would be denied forever and I'd continue to suffer without answers or resolution. The fake vagina would be a constant source of emotional and psychological agony.

So that's not a path I'd like to try venturing on again. I tried it years ago, back in the Netherlands at the VUmc gender team in Amsterdam, yet it only brought me agony. What I did learn from it is that I am absolutely not a transsexual. This also leads me to the other issue with playing transsexual, as I found out back then: passing the transsexual protocol, i.e. the convincing of a set of mental health professionals over the course of at least half a year that you really wish to convert to the other sex.

Back then I still was officially male, and it was already an impossible task for me to play a transsexual. Now my official identify is that of a female, with a female name, all changed due to my recognition as an intersex person based upon medical evidence. And they'd expect me to play a transsexual to obtain such a disastrous result which will likely only further push me towards another suicide attempt? No thanks...

I don't know what it is that makes doctors in general so completely devoid of empathy and imagination. While there are many types of personal situations I cannot fully imagine being in, I can at least use my sense of empathy to get a pretty good impression of what it would be like. Maybe it's that doctors have been raised inside this restrictive binary system of only male and female, that the rusted-together gears inside their minds cannot shift even a millimeter any more. Transsexuality does fit well, however, since it too can be stuffed cleanly into the two boxes 'male' and 'female'. Male wants to become female, or vice versa.

Come Friday I will have to explain all of this to my family doctor. I think I'll start off by asking whether she thinks that intersex and transsexuality are similar. Then based upon the response I'll discuss what she thinks my goals are, contrasted with this offered SRS and in how far it'd answer any questions and resolve any issues I have at this point.

In more positive news, yesterday I had a friend contact me after my previous blog post to discuss the symptoms. They asked quite a few questions, but in the end the conclusion was pretty clear that all of these pains I'm suffering in my abdomen, hips and such are completely normal for a menstruation cycle. The sharp pains primarily on the right side might indicate a functioning ovary on at least the right side. With the pain pattern following the normal pattern it's not impossible that I have a uterus in some form as well. It all seems too regular and normal to indicate endometriosis as well.

This friend will be contacting some people regarding getting me proper medical help. To be honest this one conversation and offer of help gave me a lot of hope and energy. First of all from just having someone listening to me and offering useful feedback and questions. Secondly for offering a concrete path to hopefully resolve this issue. Maybe via friends like these I will be able to find a doctor I actually can trust.

For the nightmare image I have, is that of surgeons forcing me to undergo one of these 'normalisation' surgeries, either by brainwashing me until I finally break and give in, or by having me declared insane and incapable of making decisions any longer. Some of my nightmares involve a scenario like this, where I am waking up on a surgery table, to then flee through the dark, nightmarish hallways of a dark, deserted hospital, while surgeons follow me like savage monsters, only intent on my destruction. Once they get their hands on me, they rip open my abdomen, rip out any organ and tissue that's female and then stitch me back together, declaring me 'fixed'.

I do not wish to be terrified of doctors. It's bad enough to be terrified of clowns without adding another category to the cabinet of horrors. Yet here I am, with doctors fuelling not only my traumas but also my nightmares. It's ironic and tragic in so many ways that those who vowed to do no harm are almost fully responsible for all the harm that's been done to me in my life.


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