My name is Doug. I live in an apartment on the east side of town. I also live in fear sometimes, which is why I have Timothy in my life.
During times of anxiety, like when I had to negotiate a late payment dispute with the utility company, or when the store wouldn’t allow me a replacement credit for returning a phone charger I discovered I couldn’t use, Timothy has been there to fight for me. When I would have otherwise capitulated in these minor yet necessary episodes to live in my urban life, it’s been Timothy who provides the strength that I have lacked.
That’s not to say our relationship has difficulties. One night I went to sleep agonizing over whether to sign up for a loan. I awoke to discover that the loan agreement had been signed and put in the mail. And there’s the smoking: Timothy can’t stop leaving his cigarette butts on the coffee table, on the counter, anywhere but in the trash can.
But those obstacles to an ideal relationship are far outweighed by the good things Timothy does for me. He always has my best interests at heart, even if he sometimes reads them wrong or gets too aggressive. We have a symbiotic relationship, one that should be consecrated in public. However, the law currently has no such place for Timothy and me.
And that’s sad, because Timothy is my partner, my protector, and my mentor. He’s also my alter.
Members of the intracorporeal-American community, more commonly described as individuals “suffering” from dissociative identity disorder, have been unfairly stigmatized for too long. This mischaracterization denies Timothy the dignity of his existence. It stereotypes our relationship as one where one alter does violence, maybe even crime, to protect the other, when the reality is much less dramatic. Timothy has certain traits that I do not, and vice versa. These traits should be welcomed and celebrated, not condemned as a problem, medical or otherwise.
Having a dissociative identity is not a disorder! Some tangible changes should follow that change in worldview. First, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Specifically speaking, my relationship is listed in Section 300.14 of the fifth edition of the DSM, and the discussion within it makes it hard to decide which is more depressing. Is it the monstrous attitude that our relationship is real but a malady to treated, or the dismissive notion that my relationship doesn’t exist at all? I think it’s Section 300.14 that should not exist at all. It should disappear, just as the diagnosis of homosexual disorder disappeared in the third edition of the DSM. It’s time to recognize the dignity of Timothy and me, and to end this barbaric quest for annihilation under the mask of “integrated functioning“.
Our relationship should also have the opportunity to be recognized under the law. Dignity not only requires removing the shame of a medical misdiagnosis; it requires the opportunity for us, and for other like-minded individuals the rights and obligations of marriage. It’s true that biologically speaking, we cannot conceive a child, and we may not even be able to consummate our relationship. But what if sexual intercourse isn’t what we want in a marriage? Many marriages do not involve a sexual aspect, and if one were to ask a couple whether or how often they intended to have sex as a prerequisite for nuptial bliss, it would be considered inappropriate, to say the least. Marriage equality should extend to intracorporeal-Americans such as us. If the rights of marriage are extended to individuals regardless of their biological status, why not to us? If marriage equality activists are advocating for marriages of relationships greater than two in number, why not advocate the same for relationships of less than two?
There are many places to sit at the table of Social Justice. It’s time that members of our community be given a place, so that equality for all can be given its true meaning.