Saturday, 20 August 2016

It's so easy to forget that I'm a medical miracle

I spend quite a bit of time on informing people about what it means to be intersex, whether it's via the media, or websites such as Quora. I feel that it is important to shed light on a topic which is clad in such mystery and surrounded by lots of misinformation and myths. That said, this sadly also highlights for me how big the chasm is between intersex people like myself and the rest of society.

I was born into a body which doesn't just refuse to stick to the gender and sex binaries, but has the audacity to feature both male and female primary characteristics. It doesn't even stick to the usual form of hermaphroditism with ovotestes: having both testicular and ovarian tissue combined. Instead there's an obvious duality, with both the female and male side clearly distinguishable. In the medical literature this is a very rare type of hermaphroditism.

Placing this against what human society is largely about and one can clearly see the problem. While transsexuals and homosexuals both fit into the sex and gender binaries, hermaphrodites in particular defy what Western society is about to such an extent that we might as well be aliens. We're certainly being treated as such, with how much 'normal' people fear us, know nothing about us, or actively seek to wipe us out.

If medical science actually cared about this topic, half a dozen researchers would have jumped at the chance to publish a host of papers on my situation. Instead I spent the past decades essentially proving that I exist and have a right to just be myself without being forced to undergo 'normalisation' surgery.

In such a situation, one tends to try to forget about one's differences in order to fit in with society, yet none of this takes away from the issue that people like me live in a society which we do not understand, and which itself does not actively seek to understand us.

We're life... but not as you know it.



Inner Prop said...

Do you feel like gender binary people (the people who fall clearly into one of the two Western defined genders) are alien?

I'm asking both out of curiosity and with no malice whatsoever.

To a "Martian" I would be an alien as much as that Marian would be alien to me.

Again, I'm not trying to be divisive. I'd like to better understand how you view the world. I think the first step is education, then maybe understanding and empathy.

For what it's worth, I think you are a very interesting person.

Maya Posch said...

@Inner Prop - I have touched on this in previous blog posts as well. Basically the way I regard those 'normal' people is as 'completely alien' for men, and 'missing expected parts' for women.

Much of this is no doubt due to growing up with a body that is both, so I am used to seeing a female body as the expected form, along with male genitals attached to it as well. It's hard to impossible for me to not see this body of mine as the actual 'normal', with everyone else being the odd one out.

This carries through in how I see gender roles and things like sexuality as well. I still find it amazing how... two-dimensional and binary people see this, even those who are for example LGB. From where I stand there are these two spectra for both biological sex and gender, yet most seem to be unaware of most if not every part of these spectra.

I hope that made sense :)