Ale’s story, an intersex person (HSC) from Chile [IACHR]
Translation into English: Zoraida A.
*Ale’s complete intervention at the public audience on the “Human Rights Situation of Intersex People in the Americas” before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 161 session, March 20th, 2017. [See full video of the audience]
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Commission,
First, I would like to thank you for convening this audience and for giving me the opportunity of participating in it.
My name is Ale and I’m an intersex man from Chile. This is the first time that an intersex person from Chile delivers their testimony personally to an organization as important as this one.
Currently I am 39 years old; however, I discovered who I was at 35. My whole life, I was forced into an identity that didn’t correspond to me, because the doctors ordered my mother to hide the truth from me, in order to do not put the treatments I was submitted my whole life at risk , so I never had access to my medical record.
When I was born, the doctors determined that my genitals should be modify, because they did not fit with what medicine defines as normal for a man or a woman. At 2 months old, the doctors decided to remove my phallus/clitoris because it was too small [for a man] or too big [for a woman], which led to a long process of forced feminization, which I can summarize with 2 words: rape and torture.
At the age of 9 I had a second surgery, which consisted of creating a neo-vagina, whose sole purpose was to create a conduit that could be penetrated. And to ensure that the duct didn’t close, they prescribe the constant introduction of dilators. When I wasn’t at the hospital, it was my mother who had the obligation to carry out this so-called therapy, with the consequences on the mother-child relationship that you can imagine.
I have no words to describe the humiliation I had to live every day, I felt vexed, raped, sad and full of pain. My mother was the main witness of these feelings.
At 11 years old, the last and most painful intervention took place, which consisted of reconstructing a duct to urinate, not because I did not have one, but because the doctors wanted to be sure that the girl they were creating would be able to sit on the toilet in order to peeing. This intervention ended up destroying my life, it is impossible to describe the pains I suffered, but the most terrible thing is that none of the previous interventions were necessary to protect my health or my life; it was just cosmetic surgeries to make my body and future behaviors fit the medical standards that define normality. Several efforts to erase all traces of my body diversity.
All those endless treatments made me a long-term slave of the hospitals due to the constant decompensation, infections and hemorrhages. This, in turn, deprived me of the right to education and to develop as a person.
Undoubtedly, this situation did not just affect me alone, but also my family and especially my mother, who until these days cannot overcome feelings of guilt and depression for not having the tools to protect me.
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Chilean intersex people live in an absolute invisibility and there is not legal instruments that recognizes them and that protects their corporal diversity or sex characteristics. The Health’s Ministry doesn’t have any official and / or public statistics regarding the number of intersex births in Chile, nor a current national protocol that guarantees the protection of the intersex children’s body integrity, being especially worrisome the situation of newborns because the idea of urgency about these cases still persists. This urgency doesn’t always relate to health reasons but to psychosocial reasons such as parents fears or social discrimination.
There is no historical statistics that allow us to know how many people have been victims of medically unnecessary interventions, without their informed consent, neither, long-term studies. Although, Circular 18 is a good starting point in order to make this reality visible and protect these people. There is no training plan on human rights in the country’s health services that allows professionals in this area to understand the reach and the importance of this instrument.
**Important update: On August 23, 2016, the Chilean Ministry of Health issued Circular No. 7, 2016, which invalidated Circular No. 18, 2015. For more information read the article: CIRCULAR 7, 2016: A STEP BACK IN THE FIGHT FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF INTERSEX PEOPLE IN CHILE.
At the end of 2015, the Health’s Ministry set up a roundtable with the purpose of creating a protocol to ensure respect of the intersex people’s human rights, especially children and teenagers. This table is almost exclusively composed by doctors, one of whom is Doctor Francisco Ossandón, the one who tortured and mutilated me when I was a child and who continues working with total impunity. There is only one member, Mr. Camilo Godoy -human rights consultant, who voluntarily since 2014 has made available several reports to facilitate the work to the Ministry and at the request of the Minister of Health, he has repeatedly trained officials of that Ministry, however, his voice has not been taken into account. In this issue, the Chilean Ministry of Health is totally controlled by the medical community and not by the Government of Chile.
For those reasons, we would like to request the IACHR, urging the State of Chile to adopt immediate measures to ensure the fulfilment of the Circular 18.
It is imperative that the recently created Undersecretary of Human Rights of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, take the reins of this issue, including intersex people in the National Plan for Human Rights that is being prepared and that, at the same time, include the situation of the intersex people in their training plans, with special emphasis on the health, justice and education sectors.
All our hopes are in the Undersecretary of Human Rights because it seems to be the only government brigade where there could be political will to promote and protect the intersex human rights of Chilean intersex people.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Commission,
The IACHR has in disposition a complete article about the situation of intersex people in Chile, published in the Annual Report on Human Rights of the Center for Human Rights of the Diego Portales University, at the end of 2016.
In the coming weeks we will also make available to the Commission, an update of this article, with more intersex people’s testimonies, and a full investigation on the intersex theme in Chile and the world.
Thank you very much.