Lessons from Miss America 2013

Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency” – Ms. Nina DavuluriMissAmerica2013

Congratulations to Ms. America 2013, Ms. Nina Davuluri. She embodies hope and as they say the real beauty of a person is their character. She has future plans to become a physician and yet again she rejects the stereotype and embodies brains and beauty – something parents want to teach their children. And here is a great role model who is an immigrant, has beauty and brains, respects diversity, honest and breaks stereotypes in a positive way – all character traits and values parents want to show their children. Do we want more of Ms. Davuluri, Ms. Schulz and the Youngs or more of Ms. Pettway and Ms. Hatte?

There are always those detractors who are more ignorant than being disrespectful. They hurl abuses claiming her to be terrorist simply based on her skin color without ever meeting her personally or getting to know her. In a strange twist, she may not have been considered as “beautiful” back in her home country, India again because of her skin color where beauty is defined by “fair” skin. What she is showing is that it’s not about the skin color but about compassion, courage and honesty – something the USA can recognize and appreciate.

We are ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges with you—firm in the belief that all men and women are in fact created equal.” — said President Obama at the United Nations General Assembly.

Do IVF children and families deserve equal rights? Do immigrant IVF parents deserve equal rights?

Maulik is also an immigrant and an IVF parent but is being forced to live separately from his IVF son because of stereotypes about gender and the fact that laws are based on that. If laws were gender neutral, Maulik could have continued to enjoy and watch his IVF son grow and they both love each other deeply. If action is more powerful than words, the fact is Maulik is as much a victim of secrecy and stigma inflicted on intersex. Whether closeted intersex people want to speak up or not, Maulik is speaking up as an IVF parent to get rights for his IVF children – like any parent would. Maulik has shown compassion and “dared” to provide human rights to intersex person where laws itself fall short. “Dared” because thats what the system of laws and justice has taught Maulik that how dare he try to do something where entire governments fall short and for that he must be punished because he did it too soon and worse his innocent children should also be punished for crimes they did not commit.

Maulik is also a victim of stereotypes and gender bias when in fact the people and systems making such claims have never met Maulik personally or heard what sacrifices and abuse he has endured. The truth could not be farther from stereotypes. In a strange twist, people like Maulik in India, his home country are ridiculed for being a young male spouse caregiver and a spouse of Eunuch. Maulik has been abused for having children through IVF in an effort to show compassion to his infertile spouse. US Immigration laws are based on biology and gender – something that deeply affects IVF children and families like Maulik and his IVF children and affects other infertile people too. Are infertile or dysfertile people allowed to have children legally or should they be forced to lie to skirt the laws and how do the lies help the IVF children who are placed in legal limbo? Fathers who have children through IVF are a different breed who go through meticulous planning and really do want children unlike the stereotypical deadbeat parents. It is the sheer joy and fun of sharing a life with children – one’s flesh and blood.

Maulik has gone against the stereotypes several times as a crusader for human rights but in silence. For those who want to make high-handed statements, walk the walk before talking the talk. Do you have any idea what it is like to be an immigrant IVF father in 2000s? The lack of laws is the biggest punishment, worse than failed attempts with IVF, not to mention the emotional, financial and systemic roller-coaster. If a rape or sexual abuse victim fails to report it in a timely manner or if the situation is created where the victim is silenced either by overwhelming trauma or blackmail or in name of “family honor” or “truth will do no good”, does that mean the rape or abuse did not occur? What if the victim decides to speak up later, will they be listened to and will the perpetrators be prosecuted or will the criminals be allowed to walk away? Does the victim deserve justice? What about an immigrant IVF father who has been forced into a situation of picking between two IVF children on two separate continents? What would you do as a parent?  Do you abandon the IVF girl child or go save her? Years later when his IVF son is old enough to understand the truth, how can the father face his son saying he abandoned his sister that he wanted as a sibling. A parent’s love is shared among his children and not divided.

People for their own ulterior motives can continue to lie and claim this as an attack on intersex or infertility. The fact is there is no “I” in  infertility during marriage and any illness becomes “wellness” when both spouses in a marriage endure together. We have celebrated diversity through human competency more than once. The fact is we have accepted intersex and let our decade of silence and actions speak louder than words but we cannot accept the lack of laws, abuse and the lies involving breaking the laws. We are asking for rights of IVF children and families. We have already moved beyond intersex family, has the society and more importantly have the laws acknowledged intersex? Have the laws started addressing the issues faced by immigrants, intersex, IVF children and families?

We have hope just like Ms. America 2013, it is the strength of your character that counts and not stereotypes. We know the people of US can recognize and appreciate this but can its government and laws also recognize and appreciate this?

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