'Doctors told me I was crazy': The discrimination faced by intersex people

Maya Posch
Saturday 07 July 2018 12:00
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Picture:(iStock / itakdalee)

Are intersex people a victim of discrimination? Let me paint this situation for you first before I give my thoughts on that question:

Just over thirteen years ago, I began to search for the answers to a few (to me) simple questions:

  • Am I intersex?
  • Do I have female reproductive organs?
  • Which types of surgeries are available to me?

The first question was at first firmly answered by Dutch doctors (at both gender teams in Amsterdam and Groningen), until an MRI scan I had made on my own costs in Germany showed otherwise: I’m a hermaphrodite with both male and female reproductive organs.

These findings are still contested, however. Even after in 2011 a surgeon literally opened my perineum and saw the entrance of my (closed-off) vagina. These findings were then used by a Dutch judge to allow me to change my official gender to female. This solved the problem of me horribly confusing everyone around me by looking 100% female, but having an official gender of ‘male’.

The MRI scan and exploratory surgery answered the second question. The latter also taught me that the testicles I had (removed with the 2011 surgery) were basically undeveloped. This explained me having almost no testosterone.

Did I mention yet that Dutch doctors for years refused to prescribe hormones to me, and that I had to order them online, figuring out my own hormone therapy dosage using numbers I found on the internet and raw measurement data I got via my GP?

In 2015 my body went through a second puberty, during which the need to take hormone therapy vanished. I got even more pronounced secondary female characteristics since that time, along with severe abdominal pains which appear to be due to the menstruation phase of the cycle.

Yet no doctor has wanted to examine me. So-called ‘intersex specialists’ at least. A neurologist has worked me over, finding nothing to explain the monthly sciatica. I feel like my current GP just finds me annoying.

It’s been 13years since I started on this quest. I still don’t have any answers to my third question, already needing more than a decade just to get the first two answered, and only because of my own perseverance.

I have had doctors and psychologists insist to me that I was ‘crazy’, confused, transsexual/transgender, suffering from ‘autoparagynaecophilia’, etc. etc.

Talking with other intersex people I just hear similar stories. Many if not most of them surrender at some point, opting to just pretend to be transgender and get ‘normalised’. I have considered this as well at some points. Just give up, become a ‘normal’ woman and forget about this whole intersex nonsense.

So tell me, is it just me, or are we intersex people being discriminated against?

This article was originally published on Quora.

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