Thursday, August 14, 2014

coping with intersex surgery

Hello dear readers.  This post is a buffer between C and D.  I will continue blogging my way through the alphabet next week.  This week I would like to give advice about coping with genital mutilation.

I underwent a clitoral recession when I was a very small child.  As a result I have little to no sexual sensation.  Thus I understand all too well the pain, rage and sense of betrayal that can accompany intersex genital mutilation.  I also am also aware of the intense feelings of violation and loss of bodily autonomy that accompany having others alter you sexually.  I have heard some intersex activists even compare the surgery to rape, I agree that there are some parallels,but it is not an ideal metaphor, rape requires malice and a will to dominate others that does not exist here. The whole reason I started this blog was to raise awareness of intersex issues and raise support for stopping these practices.  You can’t change the past, so the question becomes how do you move on with your life?  My advice is as follows:

~ Realize that your feelings are completely understandable.  It is ok to feel angry, hurt, betrayed etc.  Let these emotions out in a constructive manner.  Scream, cry, talk to people, whatever is the best outlet for you.  You could even channel those emotions into something creative/constructive.    

~ Realize that no one meant you any harm.  I know this sounds like a hollow and lame excuse, but neither your doctors or parents intended to hurt you.  They did what they thought was best with the information they had at the time (usually not much) to prevent you from being ostracized.  It doesn’t make it right, but to move on with your life you have to forgive them.  Realizing they acted out of ignorance, not malice should help with the forgiveness process.

~ Speak out.  One of the most cathartic things you can do it come out of the closet and start advocating for intersex rights.  Explaining who you are, and why what was done to you was wrong, is a major step toward self-acceptance.  By sharing your story, you might help spare other intersex babies from the same fate.   

~ Volunteer.  Many people who feel they were wronged get lost in their own heads.  Letting the bad things in your past define you is never healthy.  Helping the less fortunate will remind you it is not just about you.  There are a lot of people who are suffering in many different ways, yours is only one way.  You will also be doing some good in your community, which is always a good feeling.

That is my advice.  The emotional and physical effects of the surgery will always be with you.  They will affect how you approach many things in life, but they don’t have to ruin your life.  Let these experiences become a part of you and become stronger for them.

P.S. as part of my personal experience I would be remiss if I did not mention Buddhism.  I am not a Buddhist (though I have thought about converting) and would never tell anyone they should change religions.   That being said, I read a lot about many religions and found Buddhist philosophy extremely helpful.  In particular the three marks of existence, suffering (dukkha) impermanence (anicca) and non-self (anatta) very helpful.  According to Buddhism suffering and change are the marks of all sentient beings.  You can see how this would apply to intersex surgery.  Take it for what its worth, if it helps, great.  

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