Sunday, 16 May 2010

Texas and Jakarta : A Tale of Two Marriages

This is a story of two marriages. Two Intersexed individuals. And the bizarre, and obscenely insane treatment Intersexed people get due to religiously-inspired law.

First, from the Jakarta Post:
The recent case of Alterina Hofan highlighted the authority’s unpreparedness in dealing with this issue.

Alterina suffers Klinefelter’s syndrome, a rare case where a male has an extra X chromosome that makes him look more like a woman.

After years of operations, Alterina has documented himself as a man and even married Jane Hadipoespito.

The problem arose when Jane’s parents denounced the marriage, filing a lawsuit against Alterina for document fraud because he previously declared he was a woman in his identity cards.

Police then took Alterina to prison, ignoring the latest report from a doctor that confirmed he was a man.

The police decided to take Alterina to the Pondok Bambu women’s penitentiary in East Jakarta, after being transferred between a number of men’s and women’s penitentiaries.

But because of his apparent male physical features, the police separate Alterina from other inmates and place him in a special room in the penitentiary.

Josep Adi Prasetyo of the National Commision on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), views the case as an example of the state’s failure in protecting people’s rights.

He referred to an international convention on civil and political rights that guaranteed people’s rights of their identity. The convention was ratified by the Indonesian parliament in 2005.

“He has the right to say he is a man,” Josep said after visiting Alterina on Wednesday, adding an independent medical practitioner was needed in the case.

He also denounced the police’s decision to carry out a forced medical check on Alterina and undermine previous reports from the doctor declaring Alterina a man.

Alterina with his wife

The police’s medical check-up show the opposite result, saying Alterina is a woman.
They have to, otherwise there's no basis for the arrest...
Alterina’s wife Jane said that she did not really care.

“All I want is for my husband to be freed as soon as possible,” she said.
The story is introduced as a "transgender" issue. In fact, it's one of Intersexuality, and Transition. An area I know a little about myself...

More from the Jakarta Globe, wherein we learn the intimate details of his exact genital configuration. That happens to Intersexed people you see, privacy is something they are denied. I've talked about my own situation - but that was my decision, not anyone else's.
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.”
The Mother-In-Law From Hell - who is the daughter of the founder of one of Indonesia's major Universities. The trial begins today. For those with better Indonesian skills than mine, the best article is at Viva News (Google Autotranslated version here)

Now from the Texas Tribune:
The two women are hardly the typical Texas married couple, yet their union has been blessed by the courts. That's because Hill is a transgender female: She was born with both male and female genitalia, and her father ordered surgery to make her a male. Three decades later, she would surgically reverse his decision. Today, Hill's driver’s license and a judge’s order say she’s a woman — but her birth certificate and now her marriage license say she’s a man. The county clerk in San Antonio gave Hill and Bur a license to wed, putting the couple at the center of a decade-long fight over whether unions like theirs are legal in a state that has overwhelmingly opposed same-sex marriage in polls and at the ballot box.

In a complex and ironic twist of Texas politics, a 1999 conservative court ruling actually sanctions unions like Hill and Bur’s — though they are, by their own definition, a gay married couple. That's because the ruling, which sought to establish gender as unchangeable, established a person's birth certificate as the legal document that defines his or her gender, regardless of later sex-change operations. And so it had the odd side effect of allowing transgender homosexuals to legally marry. It’s a conundrum that dismays social conservatives, confounds some county clerks and has advocates for gay and transgender rights calling for clarification. In perhaps their sole point of consensus on social issues, some conservatives and gay and transgender advocates agree, for different reasons, that people like Hill shouldn’t be allowed to identify as one gender in daily life but another when getting married.

“It’s all screwy, and the reason why it’s screwy is because people are worried about same-sex marriage,” says Houston lawyer Phyllis Randolph Frye, a transgender woman who represented the plaintiffs in the 1999 case.

For all the handwringing by politicians and courts over the anatomy and sexual orientation of married couples in Texas, the saga of Hill and Bur is infinitely more complicated and agonizing. Raised as a boy but never quite man enough for her father, Hill endured decades of abuse at the hands of those she expected to love and protect her. After discovering at age 28 that she had female internal organs, she came to terms with her identity and eventually found someone who accepted and loved her. That person happened to be a woman. In the ultimate irony of an arduous life, Hill is now legally married to a woman solely because of the gender on her birth certificate — the one she could never truly accept.
Legal Judo - using their own powers against them.
Chief Justice Phil Hardberger, who would later become mayor of San Antonio, wrote the appeals court’s opinion in the Littleton case. The decision, he said, involved a deeper philosophical and legal question than simply determining when a man is a man and a woman is a woman: “Can a physician change the gender of a person with a scalpel, drugs and counseling, or is a person's gender immutably fixed by our Creator at birth?”

“As soon as I … saw that God was in this decision, I knew we were going to lose,” Frye says.
“The decision essentially said, for the purposes of marriage, Ms. Littleton is a vaginaed male. Stupid,” Frye says. Frye believes the decision was predicated on the idea that homosexuals who wanted to get married would have sex-change operations so that they could get around laws prohibiting gay marriage. But what kind of crazy person, she asks, would have their body cut up just so they could get hitched? “That just doesn’t make sense, but that’s what people believe of us,” Frye says.
I encountered the same mindset in the Australian Passport Office. The mindset that assumed I had to be a gay male trying to pull a fast one, to avoid the anti-Gay legislation.

What's amazing is that I've observed that this attitude persists, even when the anti-Gay legislation is long repealed. Even when same-sex partnerships, even marriages, are permitted. It's a kind of irrationality that's impossible to fathom.
Hill knows about faith. That’s what’s kept her fighting through a lifetime of abuse because of her ambiguous gender identity. Hill wouldn’t find out her true nature and history for three decades after her father ordered the surgery that aimed to make her a male. Her inability to live up to the role tormented her father, who in turn tormented her. “In his mind, a proper man could drink anyone under the table, take any woman to bed he wanted to, outfight any other guy,” she says. “This was a guy, so stereotypical, and if I didn’t act like this growing up … then I was beaten within an inch of my life.”

By age 4, Hill says, she knew what she felt inside her mind and body didn’t match what was on the outside. In 1962, when she was 12, teachers at school started sending her to doctors and psychologists. They told her parents Hill might be more girl than boy. “I almost got killed over that one,” she says. Her father was the first person to call her a faggot. Her mother often told her she wished that Hill had died in the car crash that took her younger sister’s life. “There was a lot of abuse.”

When she turned 18, Hill joined the Army. Though her father had died when she was 15, Hill says she remained on a mission to prove to him she could be the man he wanted — even tougher. It wasn’t long, though, before her peers saw something different. In the shower, they could see the scar from her surgery as a baby. When she sang, her soprano voice rang out above the tenors and basses of her fellow soldiers. They harassed her and threatened her with “blanket parties” and gang rape. “I was more afraid of my buddies — [who] I was sworn to lay my life down for — than of going to war,” she says. Hill was medically discharged in 1971, though she later returned as a reservist and directed a communications team.

After her discharge, Hill began seminary school to become a pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1978, during her first year of studies, doctors tested her for kidney stones. An ultrasound didn’t show any, but it did reveal partially developed ovaries and fallopian tubes inside her abdomen. The discovery left her confused again, so she went to the college chaplain. “I said, ‘What do I do here? I know how the Adventist Church feels about women — they’re not supposed to preach at all. Now I’ve got these parts. What do I do?’ I asked him to pray with me and pray for me for divine guidance.”
So of course he acted with True Christian Charity, right?
The chaplain told her she’d be kicked out of the missionary school, and she was told to leave within a week.
Exactly. That's the kind of "True Christian Charity" we're used to. We're hardly ever get other kinds of treatment from clerics, but I'm told they happen. I've even experienced genuine compassion myself, from a former teacher, now the Right Reverend Bishop of Gloucester.
So she left for Germany to begin her transformation with hormones and therapy. A year later, she returned to the United States, looking much like a woman but still with male genitalia. Rather than having expensive sex reassignment surgery in the United States, Hill went to a Mexican doctor they called "The Butcher." She was so “sick and tired of looking at something that should not be there” that she told him to just lop off the offending appendage. She has been living as a woman since 1979.

We're all so stereotypical. Variations on a theme. Whether we're standard XX, XY, XXY, whether born with an innie or an outie, there's precious little variation. I'm slightly atypical - went into Defence Contracting rather than in Uniform, and I was always a good enough actress, even to myself, that no-one suspected. Not even me at times, because I "forgot" stuff. My parents were anything but abusive, they sacrificed so much for me.

But yes, I knew. I knew before puberty.

These are two stories. Stories about legal insanity - insanity being the denial of reality. They're stories about marriage, and the bizarre contortions and grotesqueries from those who claim to be defending its sanctity, yet make of it a mockery and farce in the attempt. They're stories about Intersex conditions, rare biological syndromes, and how parents sometimes react badly, even with cruelty at times.

But most of all... they're stories about something very simple. They're Love stories.


Anonymous said...

Alter was reported to the police by the mother of Jane Deviyant

Jane Deviyant? Deviyant?!


Happy walker said...

nice blog.. have a view of my blog when free.. .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

Anonymous said...

I dont understand it. I sorta understand why society gets mad at Transsexuals like myself. But to persecute Intersexed folks for literaly nothing they have done, but for what has happened to them, I am saddened beyond belief.

There is no christian charity in all of Christendom I fear.

An ally.

Anonymous said...

This obviously strikes home with me. It goes to show that their claim to only persecute people for what they do, rather than what they are, is a tissue of politically expedient lies.

Christian charity is a contradiction in terms.

Anonymous said...

this is good!!