Yesterday was Intersex Awareness Day, so it seemed appropriate that I spend part of the morning with a new gynecologist.
The previous one had rammed a one-size-fits-all speculum into me that arched my back up off the table in pain. The experience convinced me to take a hiatus from pelvic exams. Why did I need a stupid Pap smear, anyway, since I don’t have a cervix? That was three, perhaps four, years ago.
I like nurse practitioners. Most seem to remember that they are patient advocates. This new one had studied my records and done her homework regarding my condition. Without her ever mentioning intersex or DSD, she examined me, and we talked about things like lifelong hormone replacement therapy, and vaginal dilation, and post-surgical clitoral sensitivity. Like those things were commonplace.
As soon as my defenses reclassified her from suspect to friendly, I snapped into long-lost-intersex-friend mode. In such situations, something deep inside prompts me to talk endlessly about intersex, as though pushing the words out will make the pain go away. She smiled…and listened…and put a hand on my shoulder…and almost…almost made me feel okay with being in a doctor’s office.
Intersex isn’t about gender. It isn’t about sex. Or body differences. It’s about being treated as so alien that the gender, and sex, and body differences become the measure of our lives. Kudos to one nurse practitioner who gets what intersex awareness means.