In which Maya gets #$%@ed over by her government
In part one of my chat with programmer Maya Posch, we just barely got to talking about her struggle to be recognized for what and who she is.
Al: So the Netherlands government is willing to say that you can identify as a woman, but it is not willing to legitimize any medical evidence of your intersex biology?
Maya: Yeah, that is the short version of it.
Al: I’m not quite sure what the government is afraid of. Losing votes? Paperwork?
Maya: They use the term DSD or Disorder of Sexual Development, basically calling intersex a birth defect instead of intersex. I think it’s the chauvinistic culture we have in the Netherlands; it’s very binary, black/white.
Al: It also seems lazy: Just lump it in an existing category so we don’t have to make up new stuff.
Maya: It is very lazy–a head-in-sand kinda thing. You can see it with homosexuality, too. On one hand, you can get married as a homo couple, but then you are likely to get beaten up and/or bullied out of your house.
Al: Sounds familiar. What if you had grown up as female but then decided to identify as male–do you think you would be treated differently?
Maya: You mean as a transsexual?
Al: If you were still intersex, but if the vagina were the visible organ and the penis the hidden one.
I’m wondering about the chauvinistic society–would it be more tolerant if you appeared and acted male?
Maya: It’d make things slightly easier, maybe. I’m not sure. People still wouldn’t really understand. They understand transsexuality because it fits in the binary system of male/female, but someone who is okay with not being strictly male/female simply goes beyond what they can comprehend.
Go West, young intersex
Al: It is in some ways similar to mixed races in this country. When I was growing up, any child with parents of different races was considered by whites to be whatever the non-white race was and was treated badly in most parts of the country. I got into a lot of fights. Things are very different now, though. Mixed race kids are almost the norm. Or at least they are not seen as unusual. Do you have hope that you will someday be accepted as you are?
Maya: In some countries there would be little trouble, such as the two countries I have picked as targets to move to, namely Norway and Canada. They are quite open and tolerant.
Al: Watch out for Quebec. Those people are ornery.
Maya: Quebecians have always been silly. One major thing which has to change is that education about intersex has to be mandatory.
Al: Well, now that I know a little more about intersex, I’ll make sure to teach my daughters about it. When they grow up, it’ll just be a regular thing.
Maya: Good call. I wish more parents would do that.
Al: The way they always hit me in the nuts when they were toddlers, I’m already trying to figure out how to teach them about their neutered father.
Maya: Heh. Too many parents don’t even know about it, resulting in them getting caught by surprise when their child is born intersex.
∞ In part three, Maya and I talk about relationships and other subjects about which I am totally uncomfortable.