Saturday, 7 May 2016

Let's talk about being a hermaphrodite and unicorns

Imagine for a moment that unicorns are real. They're rare, but they're out there, as real as a regular horse. There's just one problem: they look just like those regular horses and thus most people are unaware that they actually exist. Then there are those who acknowledge that they exist, but feel that if one is found, it should be turned into a regular horse, just so that it can be happier instead of 'different'.

That, in short is the basic summary of what it feels like being a hermaphrodite in human society. It's mostly about feeling invisible, with no one who sees you noticing that you're not a regular, binary-grouped critter. It's also about feeling disjointed from society in general because one feels neither associated with 'women' nor 'men'.

Over a decade ago I felt uncomfortable in the role of a 'man', which as it turned out later was due to the dissociation between said gender role and my body's characteristics. Then as a 'woman' I felt more in the proper place, but still in the knowledge that I would never fit into that gender role either.

My body is that of a woman, more or less. I have a female skeleton and musculature, as well as a vagina and ovaries with associated hormonal fluctuations. Yet I also have a penis and the memories of being on 'the other side' once. Not the clear-cut, transgender way of hopping across a binary gender line, but in a confusing way in a body which displayed both male and female secondary characteristics during puberty.

Everything 'they' told me about puberty at school was a terrible, confusing lie.

That's essentially the summary for the past two decades, ever since I got my first period pains as a young teenager. Me trying to fit in and understand myself and life using the provided information, only to find out decades later that everything I had been told was wrong and less than useful.

A unicorn is not a horse. It's distinctly different. A hermaphroditic human is not a male or female human. It's distinctly different from either. Preserving and respecting this distinction is important, for either side. For us hermaphrodites it should feel natural to feel as such, while for our environment it should be equally natural.

This of course raises the question of what should be in one's passport, if not an 'M' or 'F'. To that my answer is a simple 'neither'. Biological sex or gender should not be registered anywhere. It should be either self-evident in the way a person expresses themselves, or completely irrelevant unless the goal is to start an intimate relationship with the other person.

The validity of this approach is also apparent in us hermaphrodites, as for us any kind of distinction is largely irrelevant, if not impossible. From our bodies to our minds, we represent both sides of the sex and gender spectra so fully that to make any distinction is sheer folly.

And just that is why I could never be 'just' a woman. After decades spent coming to terms with being a hermaphrodite and fighting against a medical world which just wanted to forcefully cut out anything which makes me 'different', I can now honestly say that I am proud of being a hermaphrodite and proud of what it means in today's society. It's not an easy path to travel, but to be one of the few who get the chance is an honour, indeed.


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