Have you got the Covid Blues?

Who doesn’t need someone to talk to during these stressful times and who better could that someone be but someone who’s travelled your road either before you, along side you, or following on behind. If you live in Australia and are a member of either Intersex Human Rights Australia or Intersex Peer Support Australia and you would like would like to participate in these weekly catch-ups with an Intersex community you can do so by clicking on the button and following the prompts. We are all in this together.

Intersex Peer Support Australia and Intersex Human Rights Australia are Not For Profit Organisations

How Loneliness Begets Loneliness

For a myriad of reasons there’s a long history of loneliness amongst an XXY and variant population, reasons given seem to centre on an array of psychological issues sometimes attributed to Sex Chromosome Variants especially those with trisomies. Before we even get off the mark we are told we don’t make for good partners, we are lousy at communicating, we are sterile ‘who would want us’, we are self-centred and think of no one but ourselves etc, etc. When you chuck in other known (for some) issues abounding Autism, Social Anxiety, ADHD and so forth it becomes easier to gauge why we might end up in such a  dilemma. Of course just because those issues are sometimes attributed to us, it doesn’t mean we are destined to be unhappy and lonely only that we have to find a means to work around them, and we can do this in multiple ways. Olga Khazan has written a great article for the Atlantic and lets the readers in on the tips and tricks for breaking through that impasse (should it exist).  When you’ve done reading and if you are an XXY and/or Variant individual why not write and let us know of your circumstances, if loneliness has been an issue in your life, have you have overcome it, and what changes have you made in order to achieve it.

One of the biggest misunderstandings is what loneliness is. They equate it with being alone, and that leads to attempts to solve the problem that doesn’t solve the problem at all. And if you try enough times, you start to feel like, “Well, I’ll never be able to solve this, I’m just a worthless person.” And that’s when you start getting social withdrawal.

The purpose of loneliness is like the purpose of hunger. Hunger takes care of your physical body. Loneliness takes care of your social body, which you also need to survive and prosper. We’re a social species.

One notion that people intuitively have is it’s just about being with other people, and we’ve already talked about how that’s wrong. The other thing is that it’s just about social support—“I need more support.” And that doesn’t work very well because the logic of that is it’s not mutual. Just getting support doesn’t actually make you feel very good. This is one of the reasons why when we do something for others, we tend to feel good. If you go cook at a soup kitchen, all of a sudden you start finding out that people can actually be pretty nice, they’re responding with gratitude.

The third common thing is that it’s social skills, that people with poor social skills are the ones who are lonely. Well, guess what? That’s not the case. If you have really bad social skills, you’re more likely to be lonely, that’s true. But lots of people feel lonely who have great social skills. Millionaires, billionaires, tend to feel lonely. A lot of athletes often feel lonely. Lots of people want to be their friend, but how would you feel if all the people who want to be your friend, you had the alternative interpretation that they want material or social benefits that you could give them.

This is why you see some [famous] athletes from [poor] neighbourhoods not severing those ties, even though it’s clearly to their benefit if they were to do so. Those are the only relationships they know are real, are authentic.

Continue reading………

Mental Health of a Large Group of Adults With Variations of Sex Development in Six European Countries.

Individuals with KS in our study seem to be the most vulnerable group. Not only were their autistic and attention difficulties high compared to the other variations but also their levels of depression and anxiety. Their self-reported anxiety, depression, ADHD and autism symptom levels were also higher when compared to the French reference population or population prevalence rates. Another paper on the general health status in the same dsd-LIFE cohort already showed that the participants with KS not only reported highest percentages of having physical problems but also psychiatric health problems (45%) and a lifetime psychiatric diagnosis (59%). Clearly, the stresses and strains of this most prevalent chromosomal aberration are extremely high.

Since the dsd-LIFE project aimed at improving the quality of life and care for people with VSD, we tried to identify possible factors associated with mental health. Shame and stigma around XY-VSD and XX-VSD conditions have been found by some to negatively influence wellbeing. In line with these studies, we found much discomfort and a reluctance to talk about the diagnosis to other people (55-70%). This shows that having a VSD diagnosis that may influence appearance, gender role, fertility, and sexuality often is still perceived as a taboo that is better kept to oneself.

Particularly in persons with the chromosomal VSD conditions TS and KS, shame was significantly associated with depressive symptoms, showing the relevance of addressing shame in clinical care. Clinicians in multidisciplinary VSD teams should therefore not only give medical advice but also support the care seekers to find a satisfying coping style with the condition. Through open and proactive communication, affected individuals may gain a sense of control and become empowered with regard to their conditions. For that reason, it is important that mental health providers are part of the VSD team. Another form of support can take place through peer counselling, that connects care seekers with persons with similar conditions and their families. Finally, educational level was correlated with autistic symptoms in participants with TS, KS and CAH. Indeed, individuals with TS and KS can have specific learning difficulties that deserve special attention to promote their psychological well- being.

Continue reading…….

A Conversation with David Strachan, Intersex and Non-binary Pioneer

I sat down with David Cameron Strachan to reflect on intersex and LGBTQ history, the meaning of “non-binary” gender, and a recent court victory—The San Francisco Superior Court granted David’s petition for non-binary gender markers** last Wednesday. He is now the 5th legally non-binary person in California! David has been an intersex activist for over 20 years. He enjoys coffee cakes and stands seven feet tall in shoes.

When I was 13 I didn’t develop like other boys. I was raised a boy. My body didn’t develop, and my mother wanted to look at my genitals. She was concerned. I was taken to the family doctor. The doctor took a look at me, poked and prodded—mind you this was in 1960, so they didn’t have as much knowledge about sex chromosomes—and he didn’t do any tests or anything. He said, “don’t worry, Mrs. Strachan. Your son will grow up normal and you’ll be able to have grandchildren.” That’s what they told my mother.

When I was in Thailand in my 20’s, I was engaged to be married to a woman. She was having trouble with birth control. I remembered my sophomore biology textbook, which said “giants are usually sterile.” Well, no one’s ever called me a giant, but I’m always the tallest person everywhere I go. I went and had a semen analysis in Thailand, and it came back that I didn’t have any sperm. I thought, “Well, I guess I am a giant!”

When I had health insurance and was living in San Jose, CA I went to Kaiser Hospital’s infertility clinic.  They told me that I had Klinefelter’s Syndrome and XXY sex chromosomes. I was sterile. They offered me testicular implants and breast reduction surgery, and I said, “no way.”

It wasn’t until 1994 when Dr. Susan Stryker was teaching a class at Harvey Milk Institute. She told me I needed to meet Cheryl Chase, who had started as group called the Intersex Society of North America. And I’d never heard that word before, intersex. I contacted Cheryl and we talked on the phone. She invited me to a support group meeting. I told her what I’d been diagnosed as, and she looked at me said, “that’s intersex!”

Full interview available at InterAct