I am writing this open letter with little hope that you will read it but with the hope that others will and will understand why your pleas to women to “be kind” demonstrate that you are doing the opposite.
I have watched you, time and time again, insist that people with DSDs are not real males or females. Perpetuating a stigma that those of us born with different bodies wrestle with every day of our lives. Taking public information backwards by about 50 years. You seem determined to perpetuate the thought that our bodies make us “Not wholy male or female” for not fitting into your platonic ideal of the perfect body.
I’ve also watched you, time and time again, block people with DSDs and ignore experts in the field, as they try to explain to you that you are wrong. That medical science understands our bodies differently and that this understanding is important to us as we come to terms with our various diagnoses. All of this, apparently, in the name of “kindness”.
I’m unclear why you think this is kind. Telling women, like myself, born without a womb, that we cannot be female because of this. It must be nice for you, with the comfort of your own children, to believe that somehow this makes you superior or more female than me. Is this your idea of “kindness”?
Did you know, Alice, that one of the biggest issues facing people with DSDs is the surgical assignment of sex? Do you know what this is and why it happens? Let me explain. The surgical assignment of sex occurs when the bodies of males born with DSDs are not considered “male enough” because of differences in how their genitals appear. This leads to the removal of the boy’s penis and a lifetime of deception, as the child is then labelled female instead. This is the idea you are perpetuating. Is that “kind” to those babies or to the parents, confused and scared, who do not understand their child’s diagnosis and are prevented from knowing the truth by vague terms like “hermaphrodite” and “sex spectrums”?
As a professor in “public engagement in science”, the lack of science in your position is beyond disappointing, it is shocking and directly harmful. What do you hope to achieve? Your interphobic interpretation of our bodies and medical conditions, does nothing to help you in your quest to prove that gender identity should override the reality of biological sex. Your insistence that my platonically imperfect body should be rejected from my sex class will not scientifically, nor indeed magically, make a platonically perfect male at birth into a platonically perfect female just on their declaration of feeling differently. It does not validate the beliefs other people hold about themselves or gendered souls. All it does is further marginalise those of us with DSDs and perpetuate the distrust many people with DSDs hold towards the medical profession. Is this really the purpose of your role?
I would suggest, Alice, that you spend some time talking to organisations like dsdfamilies, instead of only allowing the opinions of those without DSDs, who have a political motivation behind their use and abuse of us, to be your sole educators. That is not science, that is ideology. You should know better. May I suggest you also read the work of Leonard Sax and understand how you have closed the door on educating yourself, let alone others.
If you cannot take the time to do those things, then I politely request that you cease to speak on this subject. Stop using me as a weapon in your pursuit of a political, not scientific, ideology. You are not helping the intersex community. You do us more harm than good. I hope that, one day, you understand this.
Should you, in the unlikely event, read this, and wish to learn more and be a true educator of people on behalf of those of us with DSDs, I would also be quite happy to have a conversation. I am not optimistic, so, in the meantime, those of us who do care about DSDs and education will continue to pushback against your rhetoric. This is not “bullying” nor “unkind”, as you like to claim. This is our bodies, our medical conditions and our lives. It is important to us, and to all the future people born with DSDs, whose bodies we hope to protect. This is something you may like to reflect on.
Regards and go well,