Saturday, 14 October 2017

On being intersex and never being a part of humanity

For the past months I have been slowly digging up the memories of the childhood abuse I seem to have suffered as a young child. Most recently there's the horrific memory of lying down, naked, with hands touching me everywhere in a forceful fashion. I recall resisting, and may have fought back at one point, startling them and allowing me to escape into that room which I remembered first, with this man yelling at me that it was all my fault before slamming the door close.

I think I do understand quite well now why I suddenly didn't allow anyone to touch or hug me any more back then, even though according to my mother I used to be very open and friendly to everyone. Suddenly I became quiet and withdrawn, not allowing anyone to get close to me in any form or fashion. Not even if that person was my own mother who I am pretty sure has never harmed or hurt me in any way.

The strange thing about recalling all of this is that it fosters an understanding of myself which I never had before. Suddenly those weird quirks and fears which in hindsight controlled my life start making sense, allowing me to slowly deconstruct those behaviours. In a way it's making me more... normal, I guess. My feelings of terror when someone tried to touch me without my explicit permission, or even just get close. My distrust and hatred of sexuality. I can give much of it a place now, so that it no longer has to control me, changing me into a person who I am not.

Suffering childhood abuse is something that's sadly so common that there's widespread understanding and acceptance for the victims of such a tragedy. It almost feels like a rite of passage to remember and accept all the horrors one had to survive as a child to make it this far. I feel more part of humanity now as a result, oddly enough.

The sharp contrast here is with my intersex condition. Even though admitting to having such a condition and coming out for it in public, I do not feel that it is anything other than a hindrance to me in society. From medical obstruction and downright abuse, to the generally accepted notion that it is fine for intersex conditions to be eradicated. That they do not have a place, with all of us intersex people just being part of some freak show.

Even as my body suffers many curious as well as exceedingly painful symptoms as a result of my hermaphroditic condition, the response from doctors remains one of dismissal and refusal to even look at my case. Worse, many keep calling it a 'disorder', strengthening the notion that intersex is something that should be eradicated.

As was proposed by Dutch doctors on multiple occasions, I should just follow the transgender process and have the 'male' parts ripped out and 'female' parts sculpted from the remains. Never mind that my body has functioning ovaries producing female levels of hormones. Never mind that I have a monthly cycle. Never mind that during each menstruation I suffer greatly from symptoms akin to those of a massive inflammation in my lower abdomen.

Nobody cares.

Even as my childhood abuse trauma makes me feel closer to my fellow human beings, being intersex just keeps pushing me away. I do not even care to talk with other intersex people at this point, or look for help myself. The former just reminds me of my own hopeless situation and isolation, and the latter is simply futile. I won't ever get medical help for my intersex condition. Hasn't happened in over twelve years of actively seeking. Won't happen now.

I won't ever be human. I'm a disorder. Not a human being. Humanity has decided to eradicate Disorders of Sex Development by stripping them of the more humane term of 'intersex', making them feel less bad about cutting up intersex infants' genitals and denying desperately needed medical help to adult intersex people, or even brainwashing them into believe that they are in fact transgender.

What am I supposed to do? What can I possibly do? Just ignore the pains ripping through my abdomen, numbing my leg and causing agonising pains in my hips, without ever knowing what is happening inside my body? If I was a regular woman, they'd likely get away with that. But if they first tell me that I do not have any female reproductive organs, or just some, or actually still a few more than assumed, then I would at least expect some kind of explanation.

Instead I'm being stone-walled. I'm not supposed to exist. I get it.

That's after all what it means to be intersex. We're all just mistakes.



Kirk Maxey said...

I trained as a physician, but I left medicine early in my career in no small part because of its arrogant, harmful ineptitude in caring for patients like Maya. Intersex exists at the intersection of gross misapprehension and stupidity, starting with the presumption that doctors could choose a sex for an infant, manipulate its genitals in that general direction, and have a happy outcome. We have learned enough from these horror stories to know that only each growing, developing intersex individual can choose how they wish to continue to develop, and what aspects of both physical sex and gender they wish to pursue.

Maya, rather than thinking you do not belong to humanity, it seems to me that you are the essence of humanity. Your physical expression of mixed male and female structures challenges all who interact with you to set aside their preconceptions and stereotyoes, and to interact with you first and foremost as caring human beings. Not everyone you have met in your life as been up to that challenge, and I find that terribly unfortunate. It does not, however, mean that there is no hope for the future.

Best of luck.

Emma Hogan said...

It may not mean much, but I care. And I feel similarly.

I was told by another intersex person to possibly contact Dr. Tina Rashid at Parkside Hospital in London in regards to intersex conditions and surgery, but she is out of my reach as I am half a world away, so I have no idea what she can offer. No clue if this may help you or be a waste of time, but I figured I'd pass the info along anyway just in case.