Friday, 22 March 2013

The Nothingness Behind Male And Femaleness

Do you feel more female or male?

Sitting there at a table in front of half a dozen cameras, each registering every motion, every word and syllable I produce, it's a familiar question I get asked by yet another TV host. Generally the answer I produce at those times is a relaxed 'it's all relative', mentioning how my brothers are worse at technical things than me, and that few - if any - gender-based stereotypes are actually true.

In reality, it's a far more torturous question than one could imagine. For the average person there's no need to question 'gender' and they can happily embark on all the standard jokes about their own and the opposite gender. Even for the average person who doesn't feel comfortable with the gender they're born into it's a simple matter. Just swap their gender and they're happy as can be. The infamous gender binary at its finest.

For a person like me, who biologically speaking is both sexes, there's no easy answer. There are only deep, tortured questions and the inevitable conclusion that there's nothing where this 'gender' thing should be at. While 'male' and 'female' make sense to me in a biological fashion - and I most decidedly feel the need to reinforce for myself over and over again that I do in fact have a primarily female body despite countless earlier confirmations - there nevertheless is not this final conclusion that I am something specific.

I guess that makes sense considering what is meant with a chimera: an ambiguous collection of distinct species or sexes. That's me in a nutshell. And much like my body it has thrown my mind for a loop. How should I interpret things I feel and desire? The easy answer is that I'm just me and that any further ponderings are meaningless. Yet it doesn't satisfy this massive black hole inside of my chest where should go the resounding answer to the question of who and what I am.

For me intellectual pursuits are easy. I'm just a smart brain there. There's no real distinction between genders and sexes or any relevance to doing so when I'm on a technical forum or IRC chatting about technology and science. Intellect has always been a safe haven for me, a place where I can truly be myself. Everything beyond that is a scary, uncertain place.

In general social contact it's to be brutally honest pretty darn scary and tiring to have to deal with the socially enforced reality of having to be what is demanded. While I can feel little to no resonance from inside my heart upon hearing these things, I have been able to establish through inquiries and the like that I'm in appearance a fairly attractive female-looking individual. When looking at myself in the mirror while wearing clothes which accentuate my figure I find that I have to agree. And yet it doesn't answer my question.

Is it just trauma which is blocking the answers I'm looking for? Unprocessed memories and pain from over two decades worth of existing and attempting to live in an increasingly more confusing and hostile world? This might very well be true. It doesn't take me much burrowing inside my heart to uncover enough hurt and relentless agony to last at least a hundred lifetimes. From my own country denying me the right to exist, to physicians and psychologists apparently going so far as to fabricate evidence to deny me the truth, to the carefree attitude of my environment as I underwent and still undergo a kind of psychological torture poisoning the very roots of my existence.

Enough trauma and drama, that's for sure. Having had to fight the Dutch systems to even gain the right to get the gender indication in my passport which best fits my physical appearance, it is for me downright incomprehensible why my attempts to merely exist are so brutally and savagely cut down at every opportunity. Beyond the Dutch legal system there is little in this country which even has the semblance of civilization. Not in the medical system, nor in the political system.

I just know that getting mistaken for a guy on the phone is like getting stabbed in the chest, even if such mistakes are common even for regular women. I can not laugh it away. Not yet.

I desperately want to be seen and regarded as 'female', it seems. I dress like one, behave like one and I would feel little joy in life if my wish to have my existing female reproductive side restored got denied forever. Yet I do not want to get rid of the other reproductive side which would classify me as biologically 'male'. It makes sense to me on one level, and is absolute madness and insanity on another. Heck, my very existence rarely makes a lot of sense to me. Do I even belong?

An area where things turn from mere barking mad insanity into something far more disturbing and vile is that of sexuality. True, I am sensitive to the sight of an attractive person regardless of gender. Yet beyond this thin veil of normality lies something which makes sense to no one. A place where a woman can not have a relationship with a man as men only mean harm. A place which demonizes men. A place where a pregnant woman is the victim of a horrible crime, brainwashed into believing it's something wonderful. Where women who seek out sex are vile beings. Where even a relationship is something sickening and sexual actions disgusting and repulsive.

Recent experiences haven't helped with this all one bit. I also do not know what is needed for me to normalize on these points and maybe reach a point where I can decide about what all of it truly means to me. I know that I need to get those answers, and that I need help to reach them.

Maybe then when asked that one question everyone asks me again I can finally feel that it is the one true answer when I reply to it.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Let's Try This Again; Starting Anew

Last year I made the big decision to finally focus on getting a full-time job to help myself proceed in life. Having plenty of money is a wonderful thing after all. Fortunately my favourite pastime from a very young age on, namely computers and software development, turned out to be a very useful asset. It immediately catapulted me into senior developer status for my first job. So much for those who denounced me as someone who would amount to little since I didn't express much interest in studying at school and university.

At any rate I then ended up at a Dutch public broadcaster, doing backend maintenance and development on their websites. It wasn't the most exciting work, but paid alright. What ultimately made me quit there was that the place had a very top-down hierarchy, in which the people doing the actual work had virtually zero input in the whole process. This led to the developers being treated in a sense as children by management, who themselves naturally knew less of the technical details since they never made it into developers.

For over two months I just did some freelance work on random paid projects which didn't really make me a lot of money, so that I had to ask around on the social networks I frequent for more paid projects. This led to among other things someone referring me to the owner of this German software development company to ask whether he could use my services. The answer, as it turned out, was a resounding 'yes'.

Long story short, this week I spent in Southern Germany, working at the office of this company. This way we both could see whether I'd be able to work alright with the team I would be placed in as iOS developer and whether my work results were satisfactory. That I'm now sitting here back in the Netherlands with a new iPod and almost-current model Macbook Pro provided by said company would suggest a positive result there :)

I'm far happier with this switch to a new job and do not regret leaving my previous place of employment. I now work from home or anywhere I want, in a freelance fashion, meaning that I can work flexible hours without getting into problems with my contract. I'm also earning significantly more than before, which means that now I should finally be able to start saving up some money for the future which will include moving away from the Netherlands.

On one hand it's somewhat scary to start such a new job in this fashion, also because I'm at this point pretty much a beginning iOS developer, though my C/C++ background helps a lot there. There's a lot of responsibility resting upon my shoulders. Fortunately I'm feeling confident enough that I can do this. My experiences at the office this week also proved that. To a good developer the development environment and language should be of no real concern, as the underlying concepts do not change. The whims of the API developers and technical writers form the only major roadblock.

The only thing I still have to take care of at this point is a place of my own where I can live, but then I should be set for a while.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

I Wish I Didn't Have This Body To Take Care Of

I'm not quite sure how to start this blog post. As I'm typing this I'm sitting on the couch in the apartment I am staying in this week while I get to know the team I'll be working with at my new employer, here in Germany. While this means that finally I'll have a stable income, a pleasant company to work for and the freedom to work when and where I want, things didn't quite go how I expected them to the past weeks.

What should have been bad enough already would be that my girlfriend and I have broken up. Stuff like that happens. You feel bad about it for a while and move on. Unfortunately this is not how it happened. To make a very long story short, my ex-girlfriend is occupying the apartment back in Almere. While she tells me that she wants me to come back and 'talk things through', I know that the train has long since passed that station and isn't even within a light year of it any more. Talking and 'fixing' is what we have done the past eight months almost constantly already.

The past hours I have mostly spent feeling depressed and crying, as well as feeling hunted. Part of me still expects my ex-girlfriend to just storm into the apartment here, or wait for me somewhere else. It's a feeling I find incredibly hard to shake off. Anyway... what would I be feeling depressed about and cry for? That despite so many things suddenly going right in my life I just had to get beaten up so badly, figuratively speaking, that I'm not sure I even want to get up again. I'm not a glutton for punishment.

Some people are trying to insinuate that my ex and I should talk things through, maybe via counseling. My ex has this amazing belief that because she thinks she loves me that everything will be fine. Love alone doesn't conquer anything. The past months that we spent together were in retrospect some of the most horrific months I have gone through in my life. At least when I was dealing with those horrible Dutch physicians and the like I could go home and forget about it for few weeks, if only a bit. No chance of feeling anything but this constant apprehension of being watched and scrutinized. If my emotional side gave out again and I simply collapsed there'd be no sympathy or the like. Instead I'd just get prodded like a cow on its way to the butcher's.

Love... intimacy... caring for another person. I can still kind of feel it deep inside me and imagine what it should feel like, but what remains of such feelings inside of me are now torn, ragged remains flapping in the wind. While traveling to where I am currently in Germany I couldn't help but look around at people and imagine starting a relationship with another. I'd feel something for faces and people I deemed pretty or beautiful, but it felt distant. I'd love a hug and someone who'd take care of me, but I also know that such a person doesn't... what am I saying, I know those people exist.

It all feels twisted inside my head. Traveling and adapting to new places, dealing with new experiences and new challenges. Meanwhile accosted by dreadful imaginations of what will happen when I'm returning to the Netherlands on Friday. Last week Tuesday I had to escape the apartment in Almere and spent time at my mother's place because things had become more than impossible. Ever got that sensation when you know that there's only one way out and that's by taking your own life? Yeah, that's what the past months have been leading up to, culminating into a situation I hope to never experience again.

It's best to go each other's separate ways if things don't work out. It's how adults do it. They'll try to fix things a few times at most, then decide that it isn't working out and split up in a calm and reasonable fashion. I'd almost long for such a 'normal' break-up. Instead I'm dealing with the impossible situation where I have essentially lost my home and possessions, forcing me to couch surf for the coming weeks, probably months. I wish I didn't have this body which needed food, drink and shelter. It's an unnecessary burden. I'd so much prefer to be just a presence.

My thoughts keep returning to that moment last week where I was lying on the floor as my ex just kept yelling at me for I don't know how long, with me begging her to please stop. At that time I hated having a body so much. Almost enough to eradicate it from existence. Regardless of whether I deserve it to live or die.

And that's exactly why my ex should move on with her life: so that I can move on with mine. At this point I'm feeling more stress and agony than I have ever felt before. I hope that I can keep myself together the coming time. If I keep breaking down emotionally pretty much every day lately I fear that there's not much more I can take. I'm also afraid to let all this emotional agony turn into hatred against my ex. Eventually it'll go like that, as I can all too clearly see how she's blocking my life.

Anyway, I'm pretty much just rambling now. I just wanted to put down how this current situation is affecting me, and how rapidly things can go from alright to insane. I'm so hoping for a mature solution to this situation.

I'm just a wreck now...