Letter to My Physicians

The following is a letter which ISNA member Angela Moreno recently sent to two pediatric endocrinologists, women who presided over her treatment for intersexuality in 1985 (See In Amerika They Call us Hermaphrodites). We have not used the names of the women, because our aim is to open a dialog, not to publicly embarrass individual physicians.
—Ed.

August 10, 1996

Doctors W and S,

I wonder how many of your intersex patients ever contact you again in adulthood. I imagine—given the enormous distrust of the medical profession which many of us develop—that most are “lost to follow-up.” You (and your profession’s misguided treatment protocol) can never hope to return to me what you have taken, but you can listen to me. As you admitted to me, Dr. W, adult intersexual voices are very rare. My willingness to speak is relatively unique; I urge you to listen. In fact, I am writing with the hope of initiating a dialogue with clinicians like yourselves.

If I had not persisted in obtaining my medical records, I might never have known the specifics of my intersex status. I’ve only managed to get fifteen pages of my records from Children’s Memorial Hospital, but I have managed to glean my karyotype and other diagnosing information. I am shocked and angered to realize that you have lied to me, convinced my parents to lie to me, and that you never intended to disclose my diagnosis to me—the patient. I wonder how you thought that deceiving me might have been therapeutic or even ethical. I wonder if you thought so little of me as to believe that I would never discover the truth on my own.

I am enclosing some literature from the Intersex Society of North America, a peer support and advocacy group. I hope you will thoughtfully consider these materials. Let me emphasize that my intention in writing is to open a dialogue. I hope, someday, to sit face to face with both of you and discuss the particulars of my case and treatment of intersex conditions more generally. This is very important to me, but I also believe this is an opportunity which you must not dismiss. Your willingness to listen can only increase your understanding of intersexuality from the patient’s perspective. I encourage you to contact me by phone, e-mail, or post. I make occasional weekend trips to your city and am usually able to arrive on Friday or stay through Monday. I hope that we can arrange to meet soon. If I don’t receive a response to this letter within the month, I will contact both of you to pursue the possibility of our meeting, but I sincerely hope that you will feel strongly enough to contact me on your own. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Angela Moreno