Thursday, 16 February 2012

Two Similar Cases

Letter to White House health conference organizers | THE INTERSEX NETWORK
Why did I want to attend this conference? I have never self-identified as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual, so what is my interest in this White House LGBT Conference on Health? It is because during my life as a late-virilizing intersex person, I have been misunderstood as, and persecuted as, at various times a lesbian, gay man, bisexual and transsexual.
I have had to fight to get a legal presence and a birth certificate that is congruent with my adult naturally-virilized masculine gender. My entire life has been one great battle just to be myself because there is no legal recognition for the millions of intersex people like me in this great country of ours! There is no recognition of the existence of intersex people even in the email sent to me about this LGBT conference!

See the 1982 Royal Nepalese Press Photo of me at the top of this letter. I am the taller bearded man near the center of the picture. Do I look like a normal woman to you? I was born looking like a normal baby girl but by the time I was a young adult my body had self-virilized, becoming hirsute and phallic. This natural late-virilizing intersex change was welcomed by me, because I always thought of myself as male and started calling myself David at the age of nine.
He went the other way. I still haven't been able to get my UK Birth Certificate corrected. But I've had fewer problems overall.

He chose the name "David" at age 9. I chose the name "Zoe" at age 10.

Like him, I've been called at various times a lesbian, gay man, and transsexual, often all three at the same time by the same person. The only one I identify with is the last, as it seems to me there's no essential difference between a natural or therapeutically-induced transition. He doesn't identify as Trans, I do, sorta, almost, even though it's not technically true. No matter.

What matters to me more is a court case a little less than two years before I was married.

In the marriage of C and D (falsely called C). (1979) 35 FLR 340 (1979) 5 FamLR 636 (1979) 28 ALR 524.

The circumstances here are more similar to my own, or at least, similar to my own in 1979. The Husband's condition was CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia) , presumably due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency. My own is CAH, due to 3β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency (we think). Symptoms differ in detail, but are similar. I looked more male in some respects, he looked more male in others.

Now on to the judgement about this person's marriage.

The wife was contemplating immediately prior to marriage and did in fact believe that she was marrying a male. She did not in fact marry a male but a combination of both male and female, notwithstanding the fact that the husband exhibited as a male;
... marriage, according to law in Australia, is "the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life."
I am satisfied on the evidence that the husband was neither man nor woman but was a combination of both, and a marriage in the true sense of the word as within the definition referred to above could not have taken place and does not exist.
The circumstances of this marriage and ours are sufficiently similar that they are legally indistinguishable. I knew a bit less about my situation than he did, my severe abdominal pains happened at 22 as well though, and I still have the scar from bikini-line to breastbone from the surgery that cured it. But I wasn't told anything other than that my gallbladder and "anomalous tissue" had been removed for biopsy.

There is one crucial, and fundamental difference though. That marriage lasted 11 years, but was essentially dead before certified as non-existent by the court.

We've been married 31 years less a few days, and are still as much in love as we ever were. To legally nullify our marriage, we, and no-one else, would have to petition the Family Court, no-one can do that to us.

I still bawled my eves out when I read this case. Because the Judge was correct in his decision. I wasn't male, not in 1979, nor 1981, I just looked like it. Mostly. For most purposes I can be considered Trans, but not here, not for this one.

Whether the Law recognises our partnership is in the most important ways, irrelevant. We are married.


Lucrece said...

It's good to have you back. Can't say there hasn't been a single post you've made that hasn't been illuminating/presented the reader with something they haven't seen/considered before.

I was disappointed to not see this blog in the Australian section of the Web Blog Awards.

Chris Phoenix said...

It's kinda' spooky to read the court's opinion that an intersex person is legally incapable of getting married.

So I'm really glad to read that no one else can nullify your marriage!

Calie said...

A lot of emotion in this post. Thanks for sharing.

I believe in you, as do many. It's sad, however, that there are some in the Trans community (of which you are, arguably, on the periphery), along with others with closed minds, who refuse to believe that nature can, indeed, make a mistake once in a while.

Lots of love sent your way from this Californian.

Zoe Brain said...

Thanks, Calie.

What others believe is their own affair. They can believe that the Earth is Flat, the moon made of green cheese, that "natural changes" like this are impossible, or, if possible, mine wasn't just such a case.

Reality doesn't care. My continuing medical bills still exist, and have to be paid, whether some people believe they exist or not.

Considering I was so sceptical myself when it started that I presented myself for psychiatric treatment, as I logically deduced that what I was perceiving couldn't match reality, I can't blame others for expressing some initial scepticism.

It took a lot of convincing from my medical team and other eyewitnesses before I really believed I wasn't psychotic. It seemed a far more simple and likely explanation.

Since then, I've found it's not so unusual after all. Not "unique in medical history". Not "one in a Billion". And when it comes to similar syndromes, not even "one in a million" but more common than "one in 100,000".

One in 100 in some parts of the world.

I didn't know that at the time.

Dawn Storrud said...

You have never been peripheral. Always active and confirming. Good to have you blogging again.