Tuesday, January 27, 2009

OII Demostrates before the UN in Geneva, Switzerland


Nicolas, OII-Switzerland
43 years old, Lausanne

“Everything was going just fine until a doctor decided to ‘normalize’ me, at the late age of 38. I was married and I had a child but I knew I was XXY. I found out I had this particular karyotype when I was 20 during a medical checkup and I thought for a long, long time before consulting a specialist. The only answer I got was that the doctor prescribed “something that would be good for me” and then told me not to read the warnings. Since he was afraid that I would be more of a girl, he gave me testosterone. For me, this treatment was like undergoing chemical castration: my joints started to swell, my testicles shrunk and I started getting hairy like a bear. My hairiness went back to normal when I stopped taking testosterone, but a very serious illness attacked my joints. Then a whole series of events started: a separation from my wife, changing professions. I have been fighting for three years and I can depend on my parents and friends for support: they understand that I was used as a guinea pig. But what keeps me going and gives me the courage to continue as an activist is my rage. It was not up to my doctor to decide to turn me into a “virile” man: the medical protocols must be changed so that this never happens to another person.

Intersex people are totally invisible. I prefer the term “intersex”. Hermaphrodite makes the public have fantasies because they supposedly have two sets of genitalia. I refuse to be the object of such fantasies.”

Summary of article by Curtis E. Hinkle
To read the original article in French: Click here

Four people showed up yesterday in Geneva to protest genital surgery of intersex infants. Among the participants was OII member Nicolas from Switzerland who is in the picture holding the placard.

There were four placards that were held by two intersex people and two activists who came to the Place des Nations (Nation’s Square) which is a very huge place for such a small gathering. Daniela Truffer stated that the reason only four people showed up is because of all the fear and shame that keep intersex people from showing up or coming out publicly. There are approximately 3,500 intersex people in Switzerland who were born like Daniela Truffer who have genitalia which resemble either a small penis or a large clitoris. She stated that the doctor was the one who chose her sex.

“Let the children decide!”

Only the most committed activists came to Geneva with a friend from Zurich. Matthias angrily stated that they had met at the University and when Daniela had confided in him about what had happened to her, he realized that this taboo was hiding one of the most serious human rights violations. Demonstrating was one of the few ways for intersex people to assert some power over their own lives. Matthias also pointed out that no legislators were taking up any of their demands and he wondered if it was because of the power of the medical lobby.

According to the medical authorities, allowing a child to grow up with ambiguity does not eliminate their suffering. They are of the opinion that a child cannot construct an identity if the parents cannot consider the child to be either their son or their daughter. They said that the choice of sex takes into consideration physical, genetic, hormonal and psychological chrematistics of the child but they also said that the feelings of the parents were also taken into consideration. However, the four demonstrators were of a different opinion and stated that these early sex assignments do not take into consideration the emotions and metabolism of the individual affected – the child. Philippe Scandolera, co-president of the gay rights association 360° also agreed: “Let’s accept their difference and let them decide.”

Daniela Truffer talked about her surgical assignment as a girl and how she was raised in secrecy and shame. At 12 she started synthetic hormones and at 18 she had a vagina constructed. She was born with a micropenis but the doctors decided that she should be a girl. This was all based on a lie. They told her parents that she had malformed ovaries when in fact she had testicles.

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