Monday, September 7, 2009

Intersex and the LGBTI cause

I have been trying to make people understand why the Intersex people are important in the whole LGBTI politics thing. Kind of hard to explain, to many people. I am a gay man. I don’t want to be a woman. I don’t think of myself as a woman.

And many other kuchus stop there.

Explained it this way to my lover. When society looks at the Intersex, they see human beings that they cannot ‘classify’ conventionally. And medical science comes out and says, hey, wait, the reasons are ‘bona fide’. This person is neither man nor woman, and these are the physical, verifiable facts. And us kuchus are the same. But, and it is an important difference, we don’t seem to have physical backing for our differences. We look like everyone else, and since we cant ‘proove’ our differences, we are taken stigmatized for being different.

Ok. Am not fresh enough to pull it off. Explain what I mean, I mean.

Maybe this article explains it better…!

From our friends in Kenya, an analysis.
Kenyans and the man-woman thing: Thanks Semenya!
Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates after she won the women's 800 metres final during the world athletics championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, August 19, 2009. REUTERS
Posted Monday, September 7 2009 at 16:54
Kenya’s own Janeth Jepkosgei lost the recent 800 metres race at the World Championships in Berlin to Caster Semenya of South Africa. Kenyans seem to be waiting for the answer to the question, “Is Miss Caster Semenya a woman?” If the answer is in the negative then our own Jepkosgei gets the gold medal. I want to urge Kenyans to simply go beyond the gold medal and bring the Semenya controversy close to home. How do we deal with our Semenyas in various fields of excellence? Shall we disown them or glorify them?
If Semenya is intersex – has sex organs of both gender – is the IAAF going to make a scientific decision or a social decision? Who has the right to determine her gender if she is intersex and has decided she is a woman? Does this issue not tell us that we are dealing with a complex issue, may be the end of gender as we know it?
Intersex grown ups
We tend to dismiss the issue of difference by casting it in moral or cultural arguments. I know that many intersex babies in Kenya have operations the moment they are born, here the decisions being made by the parents. As one would imagine, the majority of these babies end up being male. Problems crop up later when the adults want to reverse those decisions by their parents. It is also common knowledge that intersex grown ups who seek operations after making their own decisions invariably find surgeons who ask them to seek the permission of their parents, their adulthood notwithstanding! It is not that as Kenyans we do not know this problem. We do. We seem to refuse to treat it with the humanity it deserves.
We are also a very homophobic nation, although I believe we have not reached the horrific levels of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Do we regard LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) people as human beings who are simply different? Can we on any legal or moral basis argue that gay people should be killed on the basis of their sexual orientation? Should we condone discrimination in whatever form on the basis of sexual orientation? What do we do when our relatives are gay? Do we announce from the rooftops that they are sick and unmitigated sinners? Why should we play God in these matters? The foremost bastions of homophobia in many countries seem to be religious institutions although I am sure they have no problems pocketing the offerings of gay people.
God's role
We need, as a nation, to correct the issue of discrimination. As we discuss a new constitution we may want to discuss these issues of difference and discrimination. Most of the gay groups in East Africa are founded by young people who crave for understanding and respect for their rights to be different. Cursing people who are gay, killing them, discriminating them in jobs, housing and in health will not make them disappear. If we are, indeed, religious we need to accept God’s role in the creation and in the difference and at least discuss the issue. I believe the first place where we should start this discussion is in the family and cultivate understand that can perhaps permeate to the rest of society.
One final word of advice to all Kenyans who want to stand up and be counted in the struggle for equality and rights of the sexual minorities is the realisation that you do not have to be gay to protect gay rights.
I wonder if Semenya was Kenyan we would have flocked the JKIA to welcome her. Her family, relatives and the wilder society in South Africa glorified her victory. May be Semenya’s controversy will keep Kenyans thinking through these broader issues and not the gold medal. Thank you Semenya!
Gosh, the article is so good that I have ‘borrowed’ most of it here. Follow the link for the full article.


Amy said...

She looks good on the cover.

Heather said...

I am a heterosexual American citizen attending college. I am currently taking a course on the gay and lesbian movement. In an effort to expand our global understanding of the victories and frustrations of the LGBT community worldwide, my class has been assigned to blog with the gay and lesbian community on a global level. After many hours of research, I have found your blog to be the most insightful, well-written, and inspiring and thus have chosen you to correspond with. Being a newcomer to this sub-culture I expect to make many errors concerning language, situations, and feelings. I hope you will forgive and enlighten me.

In your post expressing the valuable role intersex people play in the LGBTI cause you brought to light a number of important questions. One of these questions, "Who has the right to determine her gender if she is intersex and has decided she is a woman?" brings out the complexity of this issue. I am one strongly in favor of a person's personal life being just that... personal. Nothing ruffles my feathers faster than the thought that anyone believes they, their religion, or a government has the right to make decisions that really don't involve anyone but the person whose life will be affected by those decisions. I suppose in the case of an intersexual athlete deciding she is female, the women competing against her could argue that her decision has an affect on them. But consider the fact that some women, such as Caster, are biologically predisposed to be stronger and faster than the average woman. It's a part of life... we are unique. Some of us just stand out more than others. And as you so eloquently and powerfully stated, "If we are, indeed, religious we need to accept God's role in the creation and in the difference."

I recently went through a divorce. It was non-contested and should have been a relatively painless ordeal as far as the legal paperwork goes, but it wasn't. With each set-back I became more infuriated by the fact that someone thought they had the right to make decisions concerning my personal life. I came to the conclusion that our legal system should include a document that binds two people (sexual orientation irrelevant) in a legal partnership. This document should be simple to file with no need to hire a lawyer and just as simple to terminate (provided the arrangements were non-contested). The contract would allow the legally bound couple all the benefits of a marriage with none of the moral conerns of religion.

I realize that in many countries, my own likely included, such a legal document is not going to surface in the near future. And I realize this will sound like way too simple of a solution for such a complex problem, but I am fond of it so I'm going to share it. When an intersexual human comes of age, they could file a legal document to declare the gender or non-gender of their choice. Once filed, that declaration should stand against any legal dispute where gender might be of concern.

The comparison of a legal marriage document to that of a legal sexual orientation document may not be the best analogy, but to me it all boils down to keeping a person's personal life personal.

Thank you for taking such an active role in human rights.

gayuganda said...

Wow, thanks

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