Letter of gratitude to my doctors | Free – intersex woman with CAH

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[En Español]


Portrait of Free, by artist Gabrielle Le Roux.

Dear doctors who have treated me throughout my life,

I’ve never thought I would write a letter to you, especially one of this kind, but I decided to do it to let you know my feelings towards you and your actions, words, and cruelties.

To Dr Hernández (Oaxaca City),

That endocrinologist who, when I was a little and defenceless girl, refused to see me in his office after reading my file; that doctor who told my parents that they didn’t have to bring me to the hospital because I wasn’t sick, so the process that my body was going through was completely normal: early puberty at the age of 3, the typical male puberty. For so many years I blamed you for all my insecurities, I blamed you for the virilisation of my body, I blamed you for my masculine appearance. I used to think that, if you had accepted to see me and prescribed me the right medicine, I would have grown up like a typical girl, and I would have enjoyed my childhood, my body would have never become virilised, and so I would feel secure with myself.

Now that I am 26 years old, I have realized that your refusal to treat me was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Now I know that what you said was completely true: I am not sick, I never was, and even though the age at which I went through puberty wasn’t the most appropriate, it was a process that everyone goes through at any point in their lives. I thank you for that because, otherwise, I would have received some invasive, painful, and/or inappropriate treatment at a such young age. Today I thank you because you were the first person who treated me as anyone else, you were the first who didn’t provide me a with  different treatment, the first who didn’t see me as an aberration of nature, the first who didn’t silence me, the first who didn’t treat me as a lab rat.

Thank you.

Dr Escobar and other pediatricians who checked me up when I was 14 (Tehuantepec City),

You were the first to treat me violently inside a hospital, you were the first who told me horrible things about me. You were the ones who made me feel like a circus freak by telling me I wasn’t normal. I will never forget your words, your cold words that, like a wrecking ball, shattered my self-esteem into a thousand pieces. In my mind, I still save the cold memory of your faces looking astonished at seeing such a monstrosity in front of you, while you uttered the following words:

“You aren’t normal. You know the norm is to be a boy or a girl, but you are neither a boy nor a girl, you are abnormal”.

You can’t imagine how hard it was for me to hear those words from your mouths so many times. You don’t know how difficult it was to have to undress three times in front of you during the same checking-up so as to satisfy your curiosity; you don’t know how I was affected by the treatment I got from you, as well as you don’t know everything I had to go through to deal with the obstacles and personal insecurities generated by your actions. However, all that contributed to the development of my personality, and today I want to thank you for it. Thanks for having such close minds that your world doesn’t have space for what is different. Thank you for having given me the opportunity of overcoming depression and facing myself, because thanks to that I’ve become able to understand that you are no one to decide what is normal or abnormal, because now I am able to understand that we all are different, and so, we’re all abnormal.

Thank you.

Dra. Catalina Martínez, gynecologist (Juchitán City),

You treated me violently when my mother took me to your office to ask you to recommend an endocrinologist. I think the body senses things, and before going into your office, I started trembling with fear. I started crying without apparent reason; I told my mom that I didn’t want to go into that room, I told her I didn’t want to be there. I held very tightly to one of the pillars that supported the clinic, and crying with fear, I told her over and over again that I didn’t want to go in the room.

I was right about being afraid, I was right because the only thing I got from you was physical and psychological violence. You asked me many awkward questions; you asked me if I had a boyfriend, and when I said no, you started questioning me about my sexual preferences and gender identity. After that, you proceeded to the check-up, you pulled my clitoris violently, I told you it hurt, and so you scolded me. Then you told me to urinate in front of you so that you could locate my urethra, but I refused to do it, so you scolded me again. Then you started making comments about me, saying I wasn’t either a woman or a man, but a hermaphrodite, and so I would never be like the others.

Your words hurt my heart; each time I went into a clinic, I went out with my heart broken, with an emotional injury that, instead of healing, used to open more, so I used to tell myself that everything doctors had told me was true: I was an aberration of nature, a monster that not even God loved. However, today I thank you for your words, which were hurtful once, but now I find them full of wisdom and truth: I have never been and I will never be like any other person, I will never be like other women, because I am who I am, and no one is like others, we are all different, and those differences make the world a diverse and beautiful place.


Dr. Gonzalez, endocrinologist (Juchitán City),

You made me feel well since the first time I went into your office, you never mentioned the word “hermaphrodite”, you didn’t even mention that I was abnormal. You were the first doctor who gave me an explanation about my intersex variation and everything that happened with my body. You always showed a kind attitude towards me, avoiding the use of hurtful words. I felt very comfortable with the treatment I got from you even though sometimes you took pictures of my body and genitals, even though in the last visits you told my parents that I needed to get a clitoridectomy. In spite of this, I thank you so much for your kindness and warmth, thank you for the time you gave to me every time I visited you, and thank you for not using inappropriate words.

Thanks for everything.

Dr. Curiel, endocrinologist (Salina Cruz City),

You always treated me with kindness, sensitivity, and candour; you were always a considerate person to me. I remember when I told you that my last doctor had decided to put me into a surgical intervention; you explained to me that it was an aesthetic and unnecessary surgery, and also you said that the decision to accept or reject it was only mine. You always thought about my well-being and did everything you considered appropriate for me; you always took into account my opinions. I have no words to express my gratitude for everything you did for me.

Thank you.

Thanks to all the doctors that I mentioned in this text. Thanks for having coincided with me in this life. Thanks for having treated me as you did, because I think that it has contributed to the human development of the person that I am currently. Thanks to the physical and psychological violence that I experienced from some of you, I became a strong and brave person who has been able to fight against everything and everyone, including myself. Thank you, because the difficulties you put in my life have impulsed me to never give up and to go forward. Thanks to Dr Gonzalez and Dr Curiel for teaching me not to be afraid of doctors, because they aren’t all the same and there are some of you who do know how to deal with people and not only with illnesses.


Free Is


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