Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gina Wilson’s Speech for TEDxSydney 2010

I have come to speak to you about something you are certain you know about yourself and that you are almost certain you know about everybody else.

I have come to speak to you about your sex.

My name is Gina Wilson and I am intersex.

Intersex people are people with physical differences of sex anatomy. Differences where the person might be seen as having physical features of male and female at the same time, or as having features that are not quite male or not quite female, or having features where the person is neither male or female.

Intersex have genetic, hormonal or congenital differences so that our primary sex anatomy, such as external genitalia and internal reproductive parts, do not fit with conventional ideas of what makes a male or a female. Intersex can also include differences in our secondary sex anatomy. Secondary sex anatomy is things like breasts, hair distribution, bone structure or muscle mass.

Intersex people are not hermaphrodites.

Intersex is not about gender roles, that is, man or woman. Intersex is about your body, the parts that make you more or less male or female.

Intersex is not the same as transgender or transsexual. Intersex is not about transitioning. Intersex is about different anatomies.

There are four ways we come to know we are intersex.

The first is at birth where our bodies are so visibly different our intersex is easily known. Intersex people are often surgically altered at this time to try to make us un-intersex.

The second is during puberty when that happens in unexpected ways or sometimes does not happen at all.

The third way is when we have difficulties reproducing and the reason for those difficulties is our intersex. Intersex does not necessarily mean we are infertile but sometimes does.

The fourth way is by chance.

Sometimes paternity and maternity testing can reveal to someone that they are intersex.

And sometimes people who think they are transsexual can find out they are intersex during the testing procedures transsexuals have to go through.

You probably all assume you are not intersex.

Studies have shown at least 1.7% of the population is intersex. Those figures only indicate individuals who have come to the attention of medicine.

There are no absolutes for male or female – we all exist somewhere between those poles.

Intersex is simply differences around and between the possibility of maleness and femaleness.

Though I was born intersex, that word was not used to describe my differences until quite late in my life. In fact my intersex was a dark secret to me and most of those around me. I, like nearly all intersex people, had a sense of something about myself not being quite right, not really acceptable, something unspeakable.

My intersex has never caused me a moment of grief, illness, unhappiness or regret. Social attitudes to my intersex, on the other hand, have been and continue to be a cause of great sadness for me.

In my everyday life people assume they know why I am different. I am often thought to be transsexual, gay, queer, weird and I am frequently referred to using inappropriate pronouns. There is no shame in being trans, gay or queer. It is simply an outrageous assumption and an assumption that is underpinned by deeply held prejudices.

You might find yourself wondering about my body and what was done to me as a child and as an adult to “fix me up.”

I don’t talk about that to anyone but my partner and my specialist.

I’ll tell you why.

I find it really embarrassing – it is at the top end of unpleasant to speak to an audience about my genitals.

The way I was treated as a child is difficult to work out because records on intersex surgery weren’t kept in those days.

Personal stories, though riveting, have made little difference to intersex lives and intersex rights in the one hundred and fifty years since the first one was told.

We intersex have suffered the indignity of being sideshow freaks and the subject of voyeuristic speculation for hundreds of years. I’m not here to be that kind of exhibit.

I am here to tell you about intersex and that I am proud to be intersex.

Gina is the chairperson of OII Australia an affiliate of Organisation Internationale des Intersexués

Monday, May 24, 2010

Indonesian in transgender wedding 'fraud' trial

A man has gone on trial in Indonesia accused of falsifying his gender identity in order to marry a woman.

Doctors say Alterina Hofan has the rare condition Klinefelter's syndrome, where a male has an additional X chromosome that makes him look more like a woman.

He says he officially changed his identity papers to show he was a male but his wife's parents have accused him of document fraud.

Mr Hofan is being held in solitary accommodation in a women's prison.

The BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta says the case has incited public debate over the treatment of transgendered people in Indonesia.

Mr Hofan's mother told the BBC that when he was born, doctors said he was a girl, so he was registered and brought up as such.

But when he was two years old he began to develop male genitalia and had always behaved like a boy, she said.

Mr Hofan has said he always identified himself as a man and as he grew older, he had several operations to reduce the more feminine aspects of his appearance.

He says that in 2006 he successfully applied to have his gender changed on identity documents, officially becoming a man.

In 2008, he married Jane Hadipoespito in the US, but her mother objected to the relationship. She filed a case against him accusing him of falsifying the documents and misleading her daughter.

The case was further complicated after Mr Hofan was arrested. He was sent to a male prison but, after police DNA tests ruled he was a woman, moved to a female detention facility.

The staff at that prison, however, ruled he was a man and could not be accommodated with female prisoners. He has since been detained in private facilities at the female jail.

Mr Hofan's wife, meanwhile, has said she knows about his past and does not want to be separated from him.

"All I want is for my husband to be freed as soon as possible," she told the Jakarta Post last week.

Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights has criticised the authorities for their treatment of Mr Hofan.

"He has the right to say he is a man," Josep Adi Prasetyo told the Jakarta Post.

Source: Click here

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why are US doctors allowing genital mutilation?

Paediatricians have erred by suggesting that 'nicking' female genitalia should be allowed as a cultural compromise

Lakshmi Anantnarayan

Tuesday 11 May 2010 13.00 BS

At the end of last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a revised policy statement on female genital mutilation (FGM) called "ritual genital cutting of female minors," suggesting that the federal and state law in the US should permit paediatricians to offer a ritual "nick" of girls' genitalia as a compromise to appease the cultural needs of their immigrant clients. International women's rights organisations from the US, Africa, and Europe were quick to respond to this outrageous proposition calling on the AAP to retract its 2010 statement and revert back to its much stronger 1998 statement on the subject. The AAP's response, however, has thus far been underwhelming and they continue to justify this latest position on three grounds:

• "Nicking" is a minor procedure equivalent to a pin prick or ear piercing and has no harmful health consequences.

• Offering the "nick" demonstrates cultural sensitivity in serving immigrant populations.

• The "nick" is a "compromise" that could prevent families from performing more severe forms of FGM on their daughters

Complete article: Click here

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gender Confusion Lands Suspect in Women’s Prison

Alterina Hofan with his wife, Jane Deviyant. He has been arrested for allegedly falsifying his birth certificate, with prosecutors saying he was born a woman. He is being detained at a women’s prison. (JG Photo/Zaky Pawas)

Although Alterina Hofan says he is a man, authorities think otherwise and have detained him at Pondok Bambu Women’s Penitentiary for allegedly falsifying his personal data.

Alter, as the 32-year-old is also known, said he was born a boy but because his male genitalia did not develop properly when he was a baby, his mother decided to registered him as female, even dressing and treating him as a girl. However, he says he grew up thinking he was a boy.

Only when he was in his teens did his penis finally develop, Alter added.

Doctors at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Central Jakarta, Alter said, had diagnosed him as suffering from Klinefelter’s syndrome, a sex chromosome disorder which reduces testicular hormone production and can result in abnormally small testes and underdeveloped genitalia.

Alter was reported to the police by the mother of Jane Deviyant, 23, a deaf girl he had married in Las Vegas in September 2008. The woman’s mother, who was a friend of Alter’s, believed he was a woman, not a man.

Alter said he had always felt he was a boy growing up, adding that when he was in elementary school, he would always ask to wear trousers and not skirts.

Alder said he was physiologically a man and could perform sexually as such. “Just ask my wife,” he said.

But law enforcers beg to differ, arguing that the results of a lab examination had showed that he was a woman.

Sugiyono, assistant for general crimes at the Jakarta prosecutors’ office, said that although Pondok Bambu initially declined to accept Alter because he appeared to be a man, its warden relented after being given an explanation by prosecutors.
“The rejection was because of misinformation,” Sugiono said, “she is really a woman.”

Mother-in-law Maria Grace, who opposed the marriage, reported Alter to the police in October for falsifying personal data on his birth certificate. Alter said it had been unofficially altered by his mother to rectify the initial mistake.

Sugiyono said the indictment had been forwarded to the South Jakarta District Court and a trial was imminent.

Alter said that as a result of his chromosome disorder, he had grown breasts. “My breasts grew but not big,” he said, adding that he had them surgically removed in Canada in 2006.

“Jane knows that I have undergone breast reconstruction,” he said.

The couple was introduced by Grace in Singapore, where Jane was visiting during holidays from her business administration studies in the United States. Despite Grace’s objections, Jane and Alter met in secret and, eventually, also married in secret.

When Jane finished her studies and returned home, however, Grace found out about the marriage and forbade her to contact Alter. In the end, Jane left her mother to join her husband.

Grace had initially reported Alter to the police for allegedly abducting Jane, but the investigation was later dropped because Jane said she had gone with him willingly.

Jane said she could not accept being separated from her husband. Although Alter was not detained during the police investigation, he was taken into custody on Thursday once his indictment was filed with the court.

“If he is detained I want to be detained with him,” Jane said.

“I am really happy. Please, mother and father, do not separate us. I know what I want.”

Source: Click here