Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 retrospective: Why worry?

"Why worry, there should be laughter after the pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now"

(Dire Straits - Why Worry)

Looking back on the year 2015 and what it has meant to me, I can see that it is a year of great changes and hopefully the beginning of the end of decade-long problems.

After first offering me financial security and then a way out of the Netherlands, my currently employer offered me a permanent contract at the beginning of the year, removing many worries and motivating me. This marks the first time that I have had such certainty in life that I can support myself without having to rely on others.

I found a lot of joy and entertainment in the project I found myself working on throughout the year for my job, gaining a lot of confidence in my own skills and hopefully gaining some respect and understanding from my bosses and colleagues as well.

This year I also found out that I am incredibly lucky, after getting hit by a car without it being my fault, and surviving the accident with nary a scratch, just multiple weeks of intense muscle pain and some lingering issues and scars as a more permanent reminder. I haven't heard anyone remark about weird twitches or changes in my personality recently, so I am pretty confident that I didn't get bumped on the head too severely, either.

After starting working on a book on Android-based gaming development in 2014, I managed to finally complete it nearly a year later, making my editors at Packt Publishing feel very relieved, I imagine. It was a bit of a harrowing experience, to be honest, having to focus on writing a pretty complex and technical book against the background of my medical and connected psychological issues, as well as uncertainties about my job prospects until that got settled.

In September of 2015 I did however get it all finished along with the editing, reviewing and last-minute changes and it went on sale soon after. If you search for my name and/or the title of the book ('Mastering AndEngine Game Development') it's easy to find at the Packt store as well as at Amazon. I sent my mother a copy as well, just so that she can have a copy of the book her daughter wrote. It feels pretty darn good to be finally done with this first book. Here's to the next ones :)

Soon after finishing that book, I also got rapid updates on the final chapter in the four-year old lawsuit against me in the Netherlands, for the vandalism committed by me when I suffered a black-out due to the psychological weight of many years of physical and psychological uncertainty and outright torture as well as a suicide attempt finally breaking me. While the judges all declared that I could not be held responsible for my actions due to these circumstances, they did however force me to pay the nearly 4,000 Euro in damages for some uninsured art works which got damaged as well.

So in effect they did hold me responsible after all, they just won't throw me into jail unless I fail to cough up this amount in time. I will get the formal statement forcing me to pay early next year, after which my options are to pay up within a month, or go to jail after all. On the bright side, this is the last time that I'll ever have to deal with the Netherlands ever again.

I set up a crowd-funding campaign [1] for this payment in the hope that may some others might want to share the psychological burden with me, and also so that I won't have to burn through my meagre savings for something which is ultimately a shining example of injustice. So far this crowd-funding campaign has reached 33% of the total amount I will have to pay, but with no activity during the past two weeks.

The unpleasant thing about crowd-funding campaigns like this is that it basically asks the public to judge you and your proposal on merit. While to me it's a major issue which has made me feel terrible over the past years, and has contributed significantly to my psychological traumas and feelings of resentment towards the Netherlands, it's hard to convey such a feeling of importance to others, who may feel that it's just a cheap trick by me dodge the responsibility for something I did.

Yes, that means agreeing with those who feel I purposefully and wilfully destroyed other people's property and try to blame it on some imaginary 'black-out'. The thought that people truly think about me and this campaign like that hurts. It basically touches upon me feeling cursed with having a healthy and attractive looking body, as it is incredibly hard to get any kind of sympathy when outwards everything appears to be fine. I hope that more people can put aside their biases and look at the facts.

On a more positive note, despite having had little luck during 2015 with getting any help for my intersex condition and associated medical issues, with doctors putting me away as 'just a transsexual', or worse (all fans of calling intersex 'DSD' can go keel over for all I care...), it seems that at the end of 2015 my luck has turned.

After two appointments with a new endocrinologist I'm being taken seriously, along with my hermaphroditic intersex condition, with the first hormone level tests already showing interesting results, and the prospect of answers and even reconstructive surgery for my female side rapidly becoming a very real prospect for the new year.

It's been over twenty years since I first began to wonder about what in the world my body was doing and changing into when I got my first period and began to grow breasts despite being told I was a boy. Now it appears that those decades of confusion, trauma and frustration may finally come to a close next year. It's almost too much to take in such a wondrous idea, and yet my traumatised mind is rapidly running out of arguments to dismiss the current events as merely the quiet period before another traumatising rejection of help.

Why worry, indeed? How hard it may be to believe when you're in the midst of the chaos, noise and death, at some point things seem to indeed get better. Go figure.



Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Solving the medical mystery that is my body

Today was my appointment with the endocrinologist. As feared I wasn't able to get much sleep last night, even after the upstairs neighbour stopped stumbling about and jarring me back into wakefulness. With too many thoughts, fears and general terror pervading my mind I didn't sleep until 4 AM or thereabouts. Drifting in and out of sleep, I got maybe 1-2 hours of real sleep.

Regardless, I made it to the clinic without issues. As requested I had not eaten breakfast. After waiting for a short while I had a blood sample taken (two tubes this time instead of four like the last time). The nurse taking the blood sample then told me to wait for the endocrinologist.

Despite all my fears, terrors and apprehension it was a very normal appointment, in the sense that it continued on the same course as last time. Exactly as hoped, basically. The results from the first blood sample test were in as well, which raised some interesting questions.

Three questions, in fact. The first being that at first glance my estradiol levels seemed normal while on the hormone therapy (33 pmol, range 27-100 pmol), yet with the question mark of whether the test used measures the artificial estradiol as well, or only the natural type. Without this info we'll need the second test's results to see whether this shifts the value or not.

If it stays at the same value, then that means that my body indeed produces sufficient estradiol on its own and I can stop the HRT. It then can also mean that I did indeed get too much estradiol into my system with the HRT. Yet if it's far below that value with the second test, then clearly I should stay on the HRT, but more questions are raised.

The second question is about why my FSH/LH levels are so high with the first test, matching perimenopause levels. My endocrinologist had no explanation for this, only suggesting that maybe my body isn't used to higher levels of estradiol and cannot properly deal with it. This still has to be examined further.

The third question relates to the linea nigra line on my abdomen. Depending on the outcome of the first question, a different approach is needed. In the former case of having too much estradiol, the linea nigra is most likely caused by this. In the latter case where no overdose of estradiol exists, other avenues have to be explored, including the possibility of rogue, placenta-like tissue.

Everything taken together, these results are puzzling at best. At this point my endocrinologist will inquire with experts on this matter to find out what these results can mean, while also proceeding with finding a suitable surgeon for me for the reconstructive surgery.

Hormone therapy-wise, the endocrinologist left the choice of what I want to do there to me. Since I reported a decrease in migraines and headaches during these past weeks relative to the preceding months, it seems like an idea to not take hormones and await further results. With so many questions still remaining the only thing I can really do is to take the course which feels the best to me.

Amongst all of this, I do however feel a sense of wonder at being taken seriously by a doctor after so long and with the prospect of a quest which really started over two decades ago finally coming to an end next year. It almost seems inconceivable that such a thing might be possible. I can only feel boundless appreciation and gratefulness at this prospect.


Saturday, 26 December 2015

The ethics of copying the soul

While recently watching another hapless victim play through the video game SOMA, and watch them struggle with the range of ethical questions this game enjoys throwing at the player, I had a few more thoughts on these dilemmas offered. As usual, the caveats about spoilers and such for those who haven't played this game yet apply. Otherwise feel free to read on.

The main dilemma the player in SOMA is presented with is basically the definition of 'I' and whether this definition of a 'self' can or has to be unique. Basically what the implications are of scanning a person's brain and copying its personality, memories and other qualities to a new host.

In one scene, the player is told that he has to transfer into a new body. Since the player's avatar at that point is already known to be a computer running a brain scan of a once-living person, the assumption is made that one can just 'move' this scan onto the new body's neural chip. After the process finishes, however, the avatar realises to his horror that after 'waking up' in the new body, 'he' is also still in the old body.

The dissonance caused by this situation has to do with the fact that at that point in time, there are now two instances of what either instance will perceive to be themselves. Each of us is used to there being just a singular 'I' at any given point in time. This dissonance can be observed already with (identical) twins, and how their environment responds to them. With how important identity is to most, people become confused, even angry, as they fail to distinguish between which twin is which 'instance'.

Twins themselves deal with this fairly easily because to them it's obvious that this other person who looks identical to them isn't 'them', but still very similar and thus also very familiar. This usually creates a much tighter bond than between more dissimilar individuals, exactly due to this fundamental familiarity and mutual understanding.

So what is it that causes many players in the aforementioned scene to make use of this option to terminate their old body and with it their other 'self'? One justification to terminate their own body's functions is that this body and thus the person inside it is trapped inside a facility filled with monsters, so termination is the 'humane' option. One could argue here that this takes away the right to decide over one's fate. What seems humane to some is thus still murder.

Worse, it dodges the basic moral and ethical question being asked over and over again: what is life, and when is it worth preserving? Throughout the game one is presented with a wide variety of situations, including a person whose mind is trapped inside a robot, but who can still communicate, to a real human being who is being kept alive while injured, but you need to tap into the system that keeps her alive in order to proceed in the game.

At each point you can quite literally just pull the plug, turning off life support, or disconnecting or discharging their power supply. Basically you are asked 'would you terminate this existence?', and at each point you have the choice to either kill that person, or leave them as they were while going on your merry way.

This repeated question becomes the most poignant when this question gets asked about what you saw until just shortly before as your own body and self. Would you kill yourself if you knew that afterwards there would be just one copy of you in existence? What makes you more worthy of being alive than this other... person?

With the ending of SOMA, the game superbly highlights the intense hypocrisy of those who decide to terminate the existence of others - including their old self - as an act of mercy. As a copy of the avatar's mind and his companion make it onto the escape vehicle and towards salvation, the previous copy - himself also a copy - stays behind in the hell which his other self just escaped. The response is one of outrage, anger and of feeling betrayed. There's no sense that it is all right now, that this copy is all that matters.

What this indicates is that a copy of a person is unique onto itself, just like how two identical twins are still unique individuals, despite their similarities. They still got their own wishes, feelings and desires. Given enough time their experiences and memories will diverge sufficiently that both copies are no longer copies, but as unique as if they grew merely up as siblings.

This fear of it somehow being 'wrong' to have two diverging copies of a person's mind is however what drives many characters in the game to extreme measures. Basically at the moment that their brain scan completes, they will kill themselves, thus ensuring that there is only version of 'them', and no diverging. Just the perfect brain scan from which they can continue as their whole, uncorrupted self. This then touches upon the belief that a human is merely human due to this mystical property called a 'soul'.

Having two diverging copies would then somehow violate this principle, as it should not be possible to make a copy of a person's soul, at least if many holy scriptures are to be believed.

The interesting thing hereby is of course that nobody can then exactly explain where souls come from, or how the whole mechanics would work. Like, if a couple produces a child, does this child get a brand new soul, or a used one? Is there some massive stock of brand new souls awaiting population rise? Is a new soul created from partial copies of both parent's souls? And of course, how could one copy something that is supposed to be completely immeasurable? Shouldn't a brain scan fail to produce a viable copy? Many questions lie along this path.

Back in what at least most would assume to be reality, I think that the view of parenthood and offspring might be the most viable way to look at the production of copies of a person, as in that it is essentially creating offspring through asexual reproductive means. Much like how a bacterium can split itself into two and have both identical copies go on their way afterwards without missing a beat.

In this view, to then terminate the old instance, the one which essentially allowed you - the new instance - to be created, is then akin to patricide or matricide, i.e. the murdering of one's parent.

Everything taken together, I must say that this one video game brings an incredible amount of material to the table on which one can philosophise for a very long time. Yet the intriguing thing here is that one day all of these questions may become highly pertinent, nay essential. One day people will copy themselves to a new body and order the old body to be destroyed, or similar. We do not know what the future brings exactly, but we do know that sci-fi like this has a tendency to become more real than some may want.

Would you kill your original?



At the beginning of the current medical experiment involving my body, I expressed a number of questions about what I might experience during these three weeks that I would not be on hormone therapy. The endocrinologist had warned me that I might experience menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes and mood swings.

Now that I'm a few days away from the end of this three week experiment, I can honestly say that this 'menopause' thing is something I'm unlikely to experience for a very long time. Despite not taking any hormones, my body is going through all the usual stages of ovaluting, with the stabbing abdominal pain, searing pain on the right side of the abdomen, sore hips and lower back, as well as the appearance of acne and a bit of headaches, increase in libido as well as a loss of patience at times. Let's not forget the loss of sensation in my right leg, either. If anything the pain is a bit more severe without taking the anti-conception pill.

Last night the pain on the right side of my abdomen began again, accompanied by a general feeling of discomfort in my lower abdomen. There's also a strong sensation of inflammation or similar in the vaginal area. Basically I'm in a considerable amount of pain today. For the actual menstration part of the cycle I'm expecting the same severe and very painful cramps as I had at other times when I wasn't using the pill.

So, in short, I think it is fair to say at this point that it seems unlikely that I need this hormone therapy any more. Maybe there was some need for it at the beginning until my body could begin to produce sufficient oestrogen on its own again, but after repeatedly reducing the dose of estradiol I was taking over the past years due to PMS complaints, it seems clear that it was just a temporary thing.

On Tuesday I'm having blood drawn again for the second range of tests and I should hopefully learn the results of the first batch of tests, three weeks prior. I'm expecting that one to show high estradiol levels (>300 nmol/L), which would confirm my suspicions. Years ago when the last hormone level test was performed, that number was around the 150 nmol/L, which is a normal pre-cycle level.

Even though I still look forward to this upcoming appointment and any afterwards with a feeling of apprehension, I draw strength from these recent findings. Even if doctors do not believe me, my body at least knows that it's female. For the largest part, that is. With the previous endocrinologist appointment, she made it clear that she didn't see how anyone could diagnose me as being a regular male or transsexual, so that gives me hope as well. The hope that I won't be put away as just a crazy, uncooperative male/transsexual, no matter the physical evidence.

Maybe really soon now I will get real answers and real help. Wouldn't that be a great start of the new year? Wouldn't it be amazing if 2016 marked the year in which I finally learned the answers to the basic questions about my body and the medical help to match said findings?

It would be wonderful if dreams could match reality sometimes, wouldn't it?


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Don't hate me. Don't hurt me.

One of the things which I knew would happen during my current vacation was that of having to confront a lot of things, including myself, my past and current situation. Without being able to just throw myself at my job and invest all my time and energy in it, such a thing was pretty much inevitable.

The first week of my vacation (last week), things were quite okay, with me being able to just focus on the parcels I had ordered with parts to finalise the new computer system I'm building. I also felt pretty okay about the medical progress after my first appointment with the new endocrinologist.

Yet basically since last weekend things have been on a bit of a downwards spiral. Maybe it were a number of online discussions which triggered or contributed to it, or maybe it's related to the current medical experimenting with hormones which I have undergone for two weeks by tomorrow. At any rate I have found myself wondering what I'm doing it all for, failing to see the use of bothering to create a future. In short, I'm borderline suicidally depressed once again.

Today I thought it might get better and tried to drag myself through the day, hanging out at the local hackerspace and not trying to feel sorry for myself. Yet one discussion on Twitter later and I'm completely through with things again, and I understand much better where all the discomfort comes from. One source is the entirety of intersex, with someone I thought who understood gender and intersex issues turning out to be one of those hateful Disorder of Sex Development... people. This made me realise again how I cannot escape the pain and agony associated with being intersex, and that there's no point in running as there is no escape. They will get all of us. All of intersex people.

The other thing is that I realised that another very traumatic thing for me is moving. Moving houses, to be precise. Considering my past that is actually quite logical, with me moving on average once a year to a new place during more than a decade, usually under traumatic circumstances. Yesterday I got an offer to look at an apartment which had become available in the city, which made me think a lot about moving and made me feel terrible in many ways.

One thing there is also that I have so much to deal with already, purely with the medical and psychological matters which currently play. To throw looking at random apartments and possibly moving in there as well would be too much stress. The current stress already made me picture moving to a much smaller apartment which turned out to be even worse than my current place. It made me long to live somewhere spacious. Away from people and quiet, with no external triggers beyond a squirrel bouncing through the trees and the weather.

At this point I'm definitely suffering from too many impulses, too many triggers, too many impressions, and too many stressful if not traumatic events coming up in the near future. In that state I then have to deal with constant noise at my current apartment, from hearing the upstairs neighbour walking around startling me and sending me into a near-panicked state for some reason, to the loud metallic ticking from the heating system the entire day quite literally driving me inside. Without access to headphones and earplugs there is no way I could spend more than a few hours inside my own apartment.

All of this combined makes that I feel terrified, hunted, desperate and abandoned. I am still convinced that people are out to hurt me, whether willingly or not. The sharp abdominal pains such as those I suffered last weekend again at the onset of what I presume is ovulation are driving me past my pain tolerance straight into territory I would prefer to not have to explore again.

Yet I am powerless. Except for just drifting along with all that happens around me, there is just one thing which I can control. It galls me that even nearly five years after my first proper suicide attempt I'm still basically in a state which is essentially the same, at least if regarded from a psychological point of view.

I desire a sense of peace. Sadly the only time in my adult life that I have felt such a thing was during the brief time that I readied myself for that suicide attempt. That I feel this way is just wrong. Not that I am wrong to feel that way, but that somehow I am so incredibly helpless that seemingly the only options I appear to have are to suffer on in the faint hope that things will improve, or to just opt out of life itself.

That singular fact alone depresses me even more. There has to be a reasonable way out of this, hasn't there?


Friday, 18 December 2015

Surviving vacations and making a crowdfunding campaign work

Today I have the end of the first week of my vacation in sight. It's been a harrowing week, with lots of managing, waiting and handling of orders. Today I finally got the last order in, however, and tomorrow I should be able to start copying data from my laptop onto this new system before turning it into my new main system.

I further had breakfast with a neighbour on Wednesday after she invited me, and also did groceries on Monday for this week. Those were the easy things, with my back today telling me that maybe I overdid it somewhat with the cleaning of my apartment and moving things around in the office as I made place for the new monitors and speaker stands. Hard physical labour which my pasty, nerdy and very scrawny body isn't used to, naturally.

Yesterday I also finally set up that crowdfunding campaign [1] I threatened with a while ago [2], so that when the bill comes in I maybe won't have to surrender much of my savings, or face jail time. Initially GoFundMe's automated system pulled my campaign due to the use of the word 'legal' in the description, but after a quick review by a staff member, the campaign was released again. As of writing this, 880 Euro of the 4,000 Euro goal has been reached already, which is pretty amazing after just one day.

Again, as I got some comments about this on Twitter yesterday, I am not asking for this money because it's an easy way out or something, or because I am trying to dodge responsibility. Over the past four years I have described many times what happened, that I cannot be blamed for any which happened and that both my psychotherapist and a whole range of judges agree with this notion.

That I still have to pay this large sum of money despite not being held responsible for my actions is simply due to a flaw in the Dutch justice system and the creative interpretation of the law which forbids exactly such a punishment. Finally there is also the issue of me not having many savings since starting 2013 with exactly zero Euros or any currency for that matter to my name.

I have sacrificed a lot the past decade and would prefer to draw the line here. I hope that others agree with this notion and don't mind tossing in a few bucks to lighten my load somewhat.

Of course this may seem somewhat odd when I proclaim proudly in the same post that I have just bought an amazing new computer system. This, much like buying thousands of Euros worth of furniture, was due to not having many possessions when I moved to Germany. For my hobbies, including some I would like to pursue a career in such as game development, I needed a proper system, not a 2013-era laptop performing at the limits of its capabilities.

At any rate I hope that it all makes some sense to someone out there at least. If there are any questions left after reading the crowdfunding campaign and the linked blog posts, feel free to ask them.



Saturday, 12 December 2015

On vacations and uncertain futures

Last Friday was the last working day for me this year, with me being officially free to do and go as I please until early next year. Considering how few days I have taken off so far this year, it feels kind of weird to not go to work come Monday.

I wanted to take off next week so that I can finish building my new computer system, the one I have been working on - or waiting for - since August this year. Currently I'm still missing the last monitors for the triple-monitor setup, the speaker stands and a new UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to replace the current APC one I have.

Problem with the APC UPS is that it's a non-PFC one, meaning that it doesn't output real sine wave power (AC), but stepped square wave (approximated sine wave). Even though APC (misleadingly) advertises this UPS to work with computers, the reality is that it does not, and they will not honour their warranty if you do use it with computers or other PFC-enabled equipment.

As replacement I thus have purchased a CyberPower PFC-capable UPS. It's my first time purchasing from this brand, but the reviews seem to be really positive. The particular UPS I bought is technically not 100% sine wave output, but it approximates it so closely that there is no significant difference. It is also guaranteed to work well with PFC power supplies like those in computers.

This should be a welcome change since when I hooked up my speakers (both self-powered) to my current APC UPS (Back-UPS Pro 900), the UPS shut down with an error (F06) on its display, which came down to 'Relay Welding', or basically the relays which normally switch between battery and mains power having failed and are 'welded' in place. In short, stay away from APC and use CyberPower's PFC-rated UPSes, who at least seem to do honest marketing.

Finally, I am also awaiting a new mounting set for the heatsink in this new computer build, as there is a problem with new Intel Skylake CPUs and some third-party heatsinks physically bending the CPU due to too much force. Fortunately I got a Scythe heatsink, and their customer support was right on the ball, offering free mounting sets for customers using Skylake (Socket 1151) processors. I should have my replacement set next week.

So, in short, I should be able to finalise this computer build just in time for the new year :)

Beyond computer building, I will also be geeking out with my electronics, FPGA, programming, AI and gaming projects over the coming weeks. I definitely will have a hard time feeling bored, I'm sure.

Casting a bit of a shadow over all of this is the medical experimentation which will also be running over the coming weeks, if not months. Basically with me being off hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the determining of my natural hormone levels for the first time in years, and the uncertainty over the possible findings as well as what I may experience without those artificial hormones in my system.

As I have mentioned on many occasions over the past years, what I have been trying to do - medically - is to figure out the facts about my body. Not being certain what reality is like is frightening. While on HRT I could just ignore the questions about what would happen if I were to not take HRT. Now that I no longer am, the question looms of how much my body is like that of a normal woman, hormonally.

In addition to this, there is my mind completely over-analysing and working on convincing itself that a new betrayal is imminent with regard to medical help. So far almost every doctor and related has made a 180 after initially appearing to help me, so why not this time? Why won't I get written off as just another crazy transsexual bloke this time?

No matter how positive things may look on the medical front, one doesn't simply shake off eleven years of what one can only interpret as deception, brainwashing, lies and ignorance, aimed at completely destroying any sense of self-worth I may have possessed. I am not stupid and can see that my body is not that of a male, yet I get told over and over by doctors that that's all I am: a transsexual male.

Even as I struggle for more than two decades with a painful period and apparent menstruation. Even as I develop physical symptoms which would be impossible in a male body. Even as it's been clear that my hormone levels have never been normal, and a surgeon has declared that I am a hermaphrodite... it's all not enough, apparently.

On a more positive note, it appears that I did in fact have too much female hormones in my system, and was suffering from PMS-like symptoms. Now that I am off HRT for a couple of days, I can feel that the pressure on my head is fading, which is a good indication of such symptoms, along with a stabilising of emotions. It's possible I didn't notice that I was getting PMS-symptoms because my body started producing more hormones on its own this year only very gradually.

With a couple of weeks I should hopefully learn what my hormone values were while on HRT, to see whether the estradiol level was indeed off the scale and into PMS territory (300+ nmol/L, if I recall correctly, which normally should be ~150). Based on that result I can then decide what to do about the dosage with the HRT, how far I should scale it back, or omit it completely.

In summary, this appears to be what my vacation the coming weeks will look like. Thrilling, isn't it? :)


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

That curious sensation of normality

Today is the first day in over eight years that I have not taken pills or applied gel containing female hormones. It's a hard habit to suddenly ignore, but also very liberating, even if it's only for a few weeks.

It's nice to have fewer things to worry about this way. It's also nice that I can now look at this body of mine as a proper work in progress, not a source of endless frustration as nothing happens or changes. Right now every day of the coming three weeks will be a useful step towards more information being gathered, all of which should lead to further steps, and so onward.

As they say, the worst part is the waiting. Everything else is really quite bearable.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Time for some medical experimentation

Today was my appointment with this new endocrinologist, and nothing bad happened. I explained the situation, handed over the handy summary with printed out medical reports I had prepared and the endocrinologist seemed both very interested and understanding. When I told her that I had been put away as a transsexual or regular male she seemed dismayed.

It's not often that I get such a... human response when talking to someone who is a medical professional or similar. For some reason I wasn't nervous about this appointment either. Maybe it was because I got referred to this endocrinologist by my GP he has shown herself to be very much a human being.

Ultimately, this appointment came down to a blood test being performed to check my current hormone and other levels, then have another blood test in three weeks from now after I haven't taken the pill or used any hormone replacement medication.

That's right, for the coming three weeks I'll be back to just my regular ol' self producing all of the hormones flowing through my veins for the first time in about eight years. The goal being to see how much estradiol (and thus oestrogen) my body produces on its own, possibly from a functional ovary as well.

It seems likely that I will have to reduce the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) at the very least, however, as the endocrinologist agreed that the linea nigra is indicative of an excess of oestrogens in my system. Especially considering how I am currently quite clearly not pregnant and all that.

I hope so much that this time I'll be getting some real results and real support with the medical case that is this so very unique body of mine. It's been nearly eleven years after all. If this is the breakthrough at long last, it'll be hard to imagine how wonderful next year may become.

Maybe even no HRT any more, and that reconstructive surgery along with the possibility that with one active ovary I might be fertile as a woman. It would all be so incredibly wonderfully weird.


Monday, 7 December 2015

A strikingly feminine gentleman

In one of my dreams last night, I was standing in front of my dressing mirror, trying on various costumes. One of them was what looked like a three-piece suit. Upon looking at myself wearing it in the mirror, my initial response was that I didn't like it, because it made me look too much like a man.

I looked disdainfully at my blonde, relatively short-cropped hair after thinking this, finding myself wishing that I looked more feminine.

The previous weekend I put on nail polish for the first time in what feels like, and probably has been, years. Not a subtle shade either, but full-blown dark-reddish pink. It was interesting to note my initial aversion to seeing nail polish on my fingernails. Through it I came to realise just how much I had drifted towards a more gender-neutral role the past years, or at least had been avoiding the more profoundly stereotypical feminine displays.

The sensation in this dream was also one of realising just how much I am stuck between these two worlds of stereotypically male and female. Even though physically there is relatively little that would shift me away from the fully female side of the spectrum, psychologically the picture appears to be far less simple. Most of it is murdering doubt and uncertainty about this body.

Tomorrow I'm having an appointment with an endocrinologist. The goal there will hopefully be to figure out what my body looks like in a hormonal way. Despite over a decade of research and many years of hormone therapy and hormone level measurements, I still do not have anywhere near a complete picture of this part of my body. It's indicative of how much uncertainty and questions still remain.

As I have said on many occasions prior: at this point I'm merely a medical experiment. Even if to most people it does not appear that way, they only see the outside which to my knowledge apparently appears to be pretty mundane. Yet when I, for example, walk through a shopping mall as I did earlier today, my mind is filled with terror-filled doubt as I scrutinise every motion, sound and gesture by the people around me as a possible indication of how freakish and repulsive I look.

Saying that 'you feel like you want to be' is easy enough, but it's sadly also completely impossible. The world has condemned me to be a medical, gender- and sex-less experiment until the end of my days, so that is what I will apparently have to be. For me to pretend otherwise seems rather foolish.

Yet I am liking this new shade of nail polish, and some days I can appreciate my feminine figure in the mirror. Even amidst a crushing identity crisis I guess some bits of reality will keep trickling in from time to time.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Something to look forward to

The past is a most profound thing, almost like a living, breathing entity onto itself. Even though it does no longer technically exist except perhaps theoretically through some undiscovered mechanisms, it nevertheless continues to be as real as life itself to any being that exists.

This can be a source of great elation, when someone recalls a most pleasant and joyful memory, or the source of great sadness, such as when a painful loss is recalled. Regardless of the kind of memory it is of great importance that the separation between the past, present and future remains. If it this separation fades, and the past begins to sully the present and with it the future, it can erase the latter completely.

Over the past years I have had to defend my decision to keep searching for medical answers to the many questions about my body. Not just occasionally, and not just from others either, as it's a question I still ask myself on many occasions. I did not choose to subject myself to such intense suffering at the hands of the West's finest so-called medical professionals, after all.

Last year I thought that I could ignore it and focus on just living my life. Yet as with other of such attempts my body had to spoil this with new and intensified symptoms. How can I just ignore the appearance of pigmentation lines and other symptoms which only pregnant women are supposed to have? Could I just ignore any hormonal issues and any possibly related physical issues and complications?

Once again, the present reality forced my hand. Now, nearly a year after I renewed my search for answers I find that I have had to mostly confront the same terrors from my past, in the form of uncooperative, lying and deceitful medical professionals, as well as the same fears, uncertainties and doubt about this body of mine. To me it feels like spinning in circles and reliving the same nightmares of my horrid past over and over again.

Sadly, it appears that the past will not allow me to move on, to focus on the future instead of the past. Neither does the present, as only through the wilful ignoring of pain and unpleasantness via the drowning out of reality can I still function somewhat. This does not take away from the fact, however, that for all intents and purposes I do not just have a medical problem, but am also suffering from physician-induced mental conditions.

The post-traumatic stress disorder which I received courtesy of the decade-long (and continuing) torture at the hands of psychologists and medical professionals makes itself most apparent by making it impossible for me to keep the past and present separated. When a single spoken or written word, a gesture, event or image suffices to have the horrors of the past come rushing back into the present, there simply is no escape. There is just the past: in the past, present and future, all blurred together in a haze of suffering.

I noticed this yesterday once again, when I was confronted with such triggers, mostly related to relationships and sexuality. I managed to stay away from the worst of it, but last night my dreams were filled again with nightmarish scenes involving such topics, as well as many others. Much of it was filled in using memories, so that upon waking up I was able to reminisce on the finer details of traumatic events I hadn't recalled so clearly in a long time.

Such memories used to be mostly just impressions and facts I could keep filed away like that, but over the past years they have become more clear and detailed, until I can recall my thoughts at the time, as well as the accompanying sensations, sounds and smells. It makes it ever more painfully clear to me, for example, just how deep-rooted my hatred against sexuality and everything associated with it truly goes.

Ironically, psychologists are supposedly trained to help people deal with the past, but in my case they cannot help me, as they caused a great deal of this damage, in particular my hatred against my own body and so-called health professionals. How can I trust someone who belongs to the same group of people who have lied to me, deceived me, tried to make me believe things about myself which were a complete lie?

Thus it is that in the end I can do nothing but embrace the past as I keep trying for year after year after year to find this solution using which I can finally end this cycle of insanity physicians and psychologists have started me on, well over a decade ago.

I want to put the past to rest, but it just does not want to stay dead...


Sunday, 29 November 2015

The transient nature of reality

In a sense every location is its own version of reality. This is especially true within human societies, where travelling from one place to another can change what is and isn't so completely, that one might as well have moved to another planet. With different habits, different food, different sense of morals and ethics, not to mention often a different language, it's a different reality indeed.

Next month it'll be two years since I moved to Germany. At this point I can speak the language reasonably well, and in general I feel that everything here around me is 'normal'. The language, the habits, and so on. It's gotten to the point where I will refer to myself as a German citizen in conversations with my mother and others who do not live here. It just feels natural to do so.

The sense of feeling 'home' is an interesting concept, though. When something feels 'normal', it doesn't necessarily mean that one also feels at home. Thinking back to the past decades - except for when I still was a child - pretty much the entire time that I spent in the Netherlands was one of feeling lost and without a home.

Too many times I would find myself during that time in a train carriage or similar, feeling as if my life was just that: a transient moving between locations with me just there as observer. Gazing outside at the shifting landscape, while the garbled, distorted voices of my fellow travellers formed the background noise to this scene.

Only since I came to Germany have I felt something change there. It's not just the mere fact of having a fun, well-paying job, but also the interest and respect I receive from people here, from my employer to friends and even my family doctor. I never had any of that before.

All of this is a form of... solidity which I cannot quite remember experiencing before. For someone like me, who has moved throughout the Netherlands and the world almost constantly for a decade, the thought that maybe I do not have to live as a transient person is an almost alien and incomprehensible thought to entertain.

Verily, it's been a dream of mine for many years to have just this one house where I could live, do all my hobbies and entertain friends and family there as well. Just... normal, boring stuff. No nonsense about being special, dealing with supposed medical experts or having to fight with organisations and government instances just to be able to merely exist.

My life has become decidedly more boring. Less transient, I guess. Yet part of me still feels like it's stuck in that train carriage: just gazing at the shifting landscape outside while the garbled, distorted voices of my fellow travellers mesh together in an incomprehensible mockery of normalcy.


Friday, 27 November 2015


Yesterday, a few hours after I sent the email to my family doctor, I received a response from her. In it she reassured me that not all doctors are against me, and that she is on my side. She further indicated that she'll look into this issue of who can actually help me further next week.

I really want to believe that I am not alone in this all, that there are people on who I can rely and who can and will help me. The trouble I have is the culminated experience of nearly eleven years of mostly finding out that promises are meaningless and people untrustworthy. What I might want things to be like is irrelevant in this.

Today my body made it quite clear again why I need real medical help. With pain ranging from sharp, stabbing pain in my right side, to the sensation of the entire vaginal area being inflamed, making sitting as well as toilet-based activities into a painful to agonising experience.

I remember the latter experience quite well from back when I was still in primary school, now about twenty years ago. Back then I used to think that it was just the skin being raw and painful for some reason and ignored it. Since this symptom became more severe a few years ago, it's clear that it's not the skin, but something inside. If I had to make a guess, I'd say it's the closed off vagina's inside becoming irritated and possibly inflamed at the end of every menstruation cycle.

It's exceedingly painful at least. Today I'm just taking as many painkillers as allowed, ranging from paracetamol to NSAIDs, in the hope that it'll make it at least somewhat manageable.

I wish I wasn't so terribly alone and so horribly helpless.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

The difficulty in trusting doctors

Today I got a response to my email to this other gynaecologist who supposedly specialises in intersex cases. Their answer was a curt 'no, we have no experience with intersex', then referring me to a neurologist/psychiatrist who supposedly does. None of it made sense to me.

I have sent my family doctor an update on all of this, basically telling her that she's free to contact this neurologist if she wants to, but that I'm done with it. Also that I hope that this upcoming appointment with an endocrinologist is more productive, or that else I'm pretty much completely done with doctors in general.

It'll be hard to figure out a way to continue living without medical help. After eleven years there's no point to searching further, however. The doctors have won. They have successfully denied me medical help or a treatment as a human being. I am helpless. I admit defeat.

Today I suffered through cramps on my right abdominal side as my body apparently is ovulating as is usual during the last week of the month. I also started experiencing hot flashes again today after not having taken the pill for a week or two.

...but I the doctors say I am all just imagining it. I'm just a confused transsexual, after all...


Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Today's appointment with the new gynaecologist was pretty brief. The moment he looked at the referral message from my family doctor he asked me why I had come to him when there's a gynaecologist in the city who specialises in intersex cases. He got me a referral for this gynaecologist as well as the details.

Within five minutes I was standing outside again, with the task to make an appointment with this other gynaecologist. Earlier I sent of an email to this gynaecologist's office with the request to make an appointment, explicitly mentioning that I was being referred due to my intersex case. Hopefully an appointment can be made this year, still.

In a sense I'm feeling disappointed since I have lived towards this day for a while now, and as yesterday's post makes more than obvious, it has a profound effect on me. Not to mention the way it manages to destabilise my emotional stability and make me things I loathe thinking about, such as death, violence and similar things which aren't happy or cute.

On the other hand I'm feeling both happy in a surprised fashion, and annoyed that this other, better gynaecologist apparently exists, but that I wasn't aware of it. Now to see what this gynaecologist can do for me, as well as in two weeks time when I have my appointment with this endocrinologist.

Meanwhile my abdomen still hurt month after month, the vertical line on my abdomen remains, along with all the questions and uncertainty.

Back to the waiting game for now, I guess.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Asking help from people who might wish to see you dead

Tomorrow I will have the first appointment with my new gynaecologist. Sounds innocent enough, but the impact and implications are rather severe. The primary reason why I am changing gynaecologists is because my first one in this city did not wish to examine my case in any detail and ignored the development of pregnancy-related symptoms such as the linea nigra on my abdomen.

This is well-illustrated by the commentary written by my family doctor on the referral for this gynaecologist: "To resolve the contradicting opinions and conclusions by doctors on which organs are present based on MRI scans and other examinations."

In short: I have no clue what this body actually looks like - inside and outside - so please help me figure out why two groups of medical professionals have two completely opposing opinions on this matter.

Worse than those two conflicting opinions is that of physicians and the like who change the opinion half-way through, such as a recent doctor and radiologist who started off with saying that they could see the closed-off vagina clearly on the MRI scans, but the next time they would say the complete opposite: that they could not see a trace of intersexuality.

It is thus why this appointment tomorrow and another appointment two weeks from now fill me with such dread: will it be the same story again? Will they first give me hope, then turn around and make me feel like I'm insane, delusional and that everything I am seeing and feeling about my own body is just... imaginary? That this linea nigra line isn't there on my abdomen, that these monthly pains have no physical cause, and so on?

It is little wonder then that on Monday night I could barely sleep at all, instead feeling consumed by thoughts of suicide. The almost certainty of doctors reopening this barely scabbed over wound where others before have tried to drive a wedge between my sense of self and my body. I cannot accept that my body is that of a male because that's not what I see and experience when I regard this body. Nor do others accept this, beyond a certain group of doctors, apparently.

I am not sure that doctors realise what they are doing to me when the insist that I must be transsexual, when it should be beyond obvious to anyone with a shred of common sense that this cannot possibly be the case. That I have been officially diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their behaviour doesn't seem to matter to them in the slightest.

All of it seems to boil down to the question of whether or not I can trust doctors at this point. Tomorrow I'm putting myself at risk once more, trusting a medical professional who is very likely to just turn around and hammer in that wedge even deeper.

Do doctors realise that they are driving me towards another suicide attempt? Do they care? I doubt it. I wish I didn't need them, but that road too is unfortunately fraught with risk due to the medical complications and weird symptoms which keep appearing these last years.

I need medical help, but judged on behaviour alone, most doctors appear to be more than happy to chase me into an early grave.

Yet to be frank, I'm not sure I really care that much any more. I'm so tired. So worn-out from fighting this same battle for more than a decade now with nary an end in sight. On many occasions I simply do not care enough any more about life to want to go on. I only want the pain to stop. The pain of betrayal and uncertainty, of living in terror of people around me because I cannot trust any more.

If these two new doctors I'll be in contact with end up betraying my trust as well, I fear that I may not have the energy to go on any more. That is a frightening realisation in itself, also because of the subsequent thought of having to come up with a painless way to end my existence. I would just want to switch off my existence, not die. No violence. No pain. Just stop living.

I'm aware that doesn't really make sense, but it's the way things work. One can get to a point where living has become impossible, but one still does not want to die. The question is how long one can stay at that point before finding an agreeable way to commit suicide.

I should stop writing - and thinking - at this point. I cannot predict how the coming weeks will go, even as I fear the worst. I should probably take a painkiller now, as my non-existent ovaries are cramping up and sending imaginary spikes of pain into my side among other delusions of discomfort, because I have been imagining having a menstruation cycle since I was eleven years old.

The most precious commodity in the world is truth, which is why everyone hoards it like it's gold.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Podcasts are fun to be on

Starting last year I have been featured on two podcasts: basically online audio-only ('radio') shows for those who have been living underneath a rock for the past decade or so. The first one was with the then brand-new 'Roundabout: Creative Chaos' podcast [1], run by a couple of people I had communicated with for a while before then.

The second podcast I was on was the 'Developer On Fire' podcast [2] and was put online last Friday. That one came somewhat out of the blue, with the host of this podcast inviting me based upon my Twitter presence. It was heaps of fun as well, though.

As some of my readers may already know, I have quite some (international) media experience gathered over the past years. Most of it has been due to my intersex condition and the controversy this stirred up in the Netherlands. Sometimes, like with these podcasts, that unfortunate condition I was born with plays only a tangential or even no role.

What I like about podcasts is that it is generally in a rather informal format, more of a chat with a friend, colleague or perfect stranger than in the setting of a big radio/TV channel's studio and everything that comes with it. While TV (live) broadcasts have the fun factor of make-up sessions and meeting Famous People and the adrenaline rush, podcasts are nice in that they are far more relaxed.

And of course there's that I do (not yet) get invited to talkshows or featured in big magazines for anything beyond my unfortunate physical condition. What being on these podcasts help me remind of is that there is still another 'me' beyond this unfortunate victim of being 'different'. That I am also this 'smart' person with a lot of know-how and skills in software development and possibly far more.

As I wrote on my programming and electronics blog recently, I intended to (read: 'should really') get back to working on my software and electronics projects which have been languishing over the past years. Currently high on my TODO list there are a visual novel game, a custom CPU architecture on FPGA, a new kind of file revision system and the production of videos for my new electronics and software-oriented YouTube channel.

It all kind of makes me wish I could slip out of this body into one which is perfectly boring and no longer deal with all of this societal & medical nonsensical controversy and deceit. Yet as they say, when it rains it pours. One can apparently not be just a little bit 'special', but has to hit the entire jackpot plus bonuses.

Lucky me :)



Saturday, 21 November 2015

The psychology of fleeing one's country

I was born in the Netherlands and so far spent most of my years living there. Yet at this point you couldn't pay me to return there. It's not that I risk being arrested and locked up - not to my knowledge at least - but the impossibility of building up a life there. For the last years that I lived in the Netherlands, I desperately sought a way out, a way to a better country and a humane life.

What is it that causes someone to decide that the only thing they can do is to leave the country in which they were born and raised? War and similar conflicts are an obvious reason. Persecution, whether political or for other reasons, is far more of a grey area, as the definition of what 'real' persecution is differs per country, organisation and individual.

At least to the UNHCR, the definition of a refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country." [1]

Since this definition used by the UNHCR was first created, it has been amended already to include sexual orientation. Intersex, transgender and related thus fall within the same general group as well. One can thus say 'persecution for reasons of not being to the liking of the social & political systems'.

My fear, based on actual experience, is that I will face more brainwashing and brutal indoctrination (including physical 'coercion') if I dare to return to the Netherlands. This simply based upon a medical condition I was born with. Both my traumatic disorders as well as the physical scars and ailments from the beatings and other violence I suffered are testament to this sad fact.

I guess I am lucky compared to other refugees that I did not have to avail myself of the UNHCR or similar organisations, but could as a European citizen simply cross borders to Germany and thus escape most of the persecution. Thanks to the same status as an EU citizen I was also able to get a job and establish a new life in my new home country.

Does this mean that I am any less of a refugee than, say, someone fleeing from an African or South-Asian country? Strictly taken not. I was merely lucky that I was born in the right place at the right time to make escaping persecution almost laughably easy.

I still had (and have) to go through many of the same stages as I come to term with the fact that I will likely never be able to return to the country of my birth, simply for who and what I am. The whole injustice of it all, as well as the letting go of it and all associated memories. Resigning one to rebuild one's life in a new, unknown country and learning its language and habits. Learning to accept help from strangers.

My country of birth is gone. A closed chapter. It doesn't matter whether it still exists or not, because I'll never be able to return there, nor would I want to. Not for all the terrible memories it holds for me.

Some refugees still want to return to the country they fled if the situation there changes, while others do not. Many acknowledge that what drove them to flee in the first place isn't likely to change or improve in their lifetime. Acceptance of this is the first step towards rebuilding one's life in a new, better country.



Thursday, 19 November 2015

Stop the gender-based indoctrination

Pre-Second World War Western society was a very strictly binary society when it came to the biological sexes and gender roles. During the 50s and 60s this began to change, culminating in the exploration of many alternative views on both biological sex and gender roles in general. This also led to the general view that raising children in a gender-neutral manner was a good and positive thing.

I was raised in such a fashion, thanks to my mother who has always been a big advocate of self-determination and exploration, especially for children. Both my bothers and I were provided with all types of toys as we grew up, from toy cars to dolls, so that we could figure out what we liked and didn't like, without enforcing any kind of gender role.

Looking back, I can honestly say that this likely helped me a great deal as I began to figure out what was the matter with my body and my life. Without any set notions of who I had to be or how I had to behave, the only thing I had to fight with were the pre-set notions of society with regard to biological sex and gender roles.

For some reason it seems that since the 1970s, society has regressed into the binary notions towards these topics. Where raising children as just children, we now don't call them 'children' any more, but split them into 'boys' and 'girls' even before they are born.

When I was talking with this famous Dutch biological - Midas Dekkers - a few years ago after a talkshow we were both on, he noted that biologists do not distinguish between the physical sex of offspring until they become fertile, as there's no point to it. They are completely indistinguishable up till that point, after all.

When it comes to human offspring, much the same applies: the genitals are inactive organs, their hormone levels are identical, there are no significant neurological differences. They are just children.

And yet for some absurd reason most parents start with the indoctrinating of their offspring before birth by ensuring that their child will grow up in an environment which reinforces stereotypes for one of the two gender roles approved by society. The child's room is painted pink or blue. It has either 'masculine' or 'feminine' decorations. The child is given only toys approved for the gender role their physical sex is matched to, with toys clearly divided in toy stores into 'boys' and 'girls' sections.

To an outsider this may seem like a bizarre psychological indoctrination experiment, without any regard for the emotional or psychological well-being of the subjects. It would be reminiscent of a highly (in)famous case in psychology where in the 1960s the circumcision of a male baby went awry, and the decision was made to turn the baby's genitals surgically into those of a girl. Even though this child was raised as a girl afterwards, the gender identity of the child as it neared and entered puberty remained that of a male.

Having struggled myself over the past decades to find the proper (gender) role in life, I am all too aware of how difficult it is to figure out one's true desires and feelings without having society trying to brainwash you. I was saved this indoctrination for the largest part as a child thanks to my very wise mother, yet over the past decade I have suffered a similar type of indoctrination as psychologists and doctors tried to make me believe that I had to be a transsexual, biological male.

The effects of such indoctrination are horrific. Something about those brutal attempts to rewrite your personality and sense of self is just damaging beyond description. For me it were those indoctrination attempts which probably contributed to my post-traumatic stress disorder the most, as I fought to hold on to my true self, even as every attempt was made to erase every last trace.

Between the forced genital mutilation of infants born with even slightly ambiguous genitals and the indoctrination into a specific gender-role, the genderisation of society is a barbaric and highly damaging practice, not unlike the suffocating atmosphere of Victorian society, but with more mad medical 'science' thrown into the mix.

Yet this genderisation doesn't even stop there. Among claims for 'gender equality' in politics, science and information technology, feminists and kin keep perpetuating the myth that there are just men and women. What is the point of raising one's children in a neutral fashion if when they grow up they are exposed to such mindless lunacy? How can one prepare them for a society which absolutely must divide individuals into either of two buckets?

I say we let our children just be children, let them have and play with any toys they bloody well like, and grow up into the person they wish to become through self-discovery. As for us supposed adults... we should maybe consider embracing simply humanism, treat our fellow humans as individuals and stop forcing them into groups like 'men' and 'women'.

Maybe one day we will then finally learn to look beyond genitals and sexual secondary characteristics and see the person behind all those ultimately irrelevant details.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

The arguments to reclassify homosexuality as a disorder

Until 1973, homosexuality was globally classified as a mental disorder, with others and ultimately the World Health Organisation following in 1990 in removing this classification. The description of homosexuality as an 'unnatural' form of behaviour started as early as the 12th century, and it was featured in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) in 1952 as a mental disorder. [1]

A mental disorder is by definition a mental condition which causes issues making it hard to impossible for the affected individual to lead a normal life. A requirement for something to be classified as a mental disorder is that it has to cause 'dysfunction', i.e. symptoms which are not caused by merely a preferences or a temporary state of mind, such as grief.

Why homosexuality was classified as a disorder (and still is by some), is that it is the displaying of behaviour which runs contrary to what was dictated and ultimately expected. This expected behaviour being heterosexual behaviour and attraction. Anyone not displaying the correct behaviour was thus said to have a mental disorder. Pretty simple and easy. And also hopelessly wrong, of course.

What I really want to address with this article is not homosexuality and its classification as a disorder, but to use it as an example of how mistaken people can be, even if it is with the best of intentions. Those who put homosexuals through 'therapy' over the past hundreds of years would usually not have done it with any kind of malicious intent, even if the result was the same.

The exact same thing is happening today with intersex individuals. While previously largely ignored or brutally forced through 'normalisation' surgery (akin to 'gay therapy' in many ways), quite recently (past few years), there is a movement within the medical world to rename 'intersex' to 'disorder of sex development' (DSD).

Another 'disorder'.

If we look at the medical conditions intersex people deal with, we can see that by and large none of them are troubled by it. Normal bodily functions take place, they grow up with normal brains, normal intelligence. They are all rather boring and uninteresting from a medical point of view. Only thing that might be different in some cases is the endocrinological and reproductive formation and development, but this rarely necessitates any kind of medical interference.

Yet every day at least one intersex infant forcefully undergoes this 'normalisation' surgery, in order to remove any trace of being intersex. A sex is forcibly assigned, despite there being no scientific grounds for assuming that this is anything but a wild guess. A preference for physical sex and gender role is not encoded in one's genes after all, or the world of transsexuality would look very different than it does today.

The real reason why physicians and parents would genitally mutilate infants is because the topic of intersex is as embarrassing to them as it was to have a non-heterosexual child years ago. Or still today for some. As homosexuality is slowly becoming an accepted thing in societies around the world, intersex is still something which is seen as something which does not belong in a binary society.

For sex must be binary. Society has accepted homosexuality, because it doesn't break the sex binary. It has accepted transsexuality, because it doesn't break the sex binary. Neither of them upset the delicate balance of having just men and women.

Intersex destroys all of that. It shows that sex isn't a matter of absolutes and extremes, but a spectrum. As any zygote in a pregnant woman's uterus is initially female, this shift towards becoming 'male' is a gradual process, requiring many chemical triggers and other signals to be released and started at the right time. In the case of a chimera (mixed genetic material, e.g. from multiple zygotes), the end result is unpredictable.

If society were to accept intersex, it would have to abandon its concept of male and female. It would have to rethink and reshape itself completely from the ground up. Entire bureaucratic systems would have to be scrapped and rebuilt.

Societies are about inertia and will perceive any rapid change as a threat. This is why homosexuality got marked as a threat within the highly conservative Christian medieval times. This is why intersex has largely only ever been accepted by small, scattered societies around the world.

This is why intersex has been marked as 'disorder'. Not because those physicians care about us intersex individuals. On the contrary, they couldn't care less about us. What they do care about is the preservation of the status quo. The only way they can continue to keep erasing traces of intersex features in infants and children is by coming up with a new justification now that the world is becoming aware of intersex.

This justification is through redefining it as a disorder, which gives them all the legitimacy to continue these experimental 'normalisation' surgeries. Because they aren't harming us intersex individuals, but 'helping' us, as growing up intersex would be a traumatic experience. Or so they claim.

I'm sure they believe every word they say and may really think that they are helping us, but really... it's still pretty darn evil what they are doing.



The shameful taboo of a traumatic disorder

Earlier this week I had an introduction meeting at the corporation which owns the apartment I most recently looked at to rent. We went through all the usual questions and wishes, and I mentioned of course that I really prefer a quiet place. The man I was talking with mentioned of course that what is an acceptable amount of noise differs per person.

I wanted to explain that I have severe post-traumatic stress syndrome, that many noises from neighbours, heating systems and such startle me and make me want to flee or even commit suicide if they continue for an extended period of time. But I didn't. I just said that I like quiet apartments, with no neighbours above me and such.

A few days ago I was on my way to do groceries on my bicycle, when first this guy and then a girl ended up waiting next to me at a traffic light. They started kissing. The sensation of sickness, rage, terror and panic was just too much to describe in mere words. I wanted to scream, yell, run, get away from there. For hours and until the next day this feeling lasted. Yet I kept it all inside until I was back home and could cry and openly express the ripping pain I felt inside.

I am well aware of how far my PTSD and related traumatic disorders affect my life and how irrational the beliefs are which originate from these traumas, such as that everyone wishes to harm me, that all men are rapists, that all physicians and psychologists are evil, conniving psychopaths, that the only reasonable thing I can do is to take my own life. That there is nothing left to salvage in my life or in humanity as a whole.

Maybe it's because all of it sounds so completely crazy and out of touch with reality that I cannot and will not talk about with just anyone. I also realise that heterosexual couples have likely no idea how much emotional pain and suffering they cause with their openly affectionate and intimate behaviour. The hatred I feel towards the latter is born from the pain they caused, not because they knowingly and willingly caused my suffering.

Yet all of it comes down to that thanks to these traumatic disorders I have a lot what normal society would call 'crazy' inside of me. Safely locked away until something triggers it. And very few people - basically only those with traumatic disorders themselves - can comprehend what it feels like to survive through each and every day like that.

My name is Maya, and I have multiple traumatic disorders, yet I do not talk about it out of fear that society will shun me even more.

Welcome to today's enlightened society, I guess...


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

How not being punished gets one into jail

It goes something like this:

  • Be born intersex.
  • Get psychologically and physically tortured for years, suffer severe traumas.
  • Try to commit suicide and fail.
  • End up in the national Bible Belt and try to find a new doctor.
  • Get refused by first doctor for being intersex.
  • Get accepted, then receive hostile attitude at other doctor.
  • Try to ask for help anyway, get the run-around.
  • Have one's dissociative identity disorder (DSD) triggered at said doctor, suffer a blackout.
  • Wake up in a cell, naked, bruised, battered and with an extremely sore knee, courtesy of the police.
  • Suffer through countless court-cases, have charges of attempted murder and such dropped.
  • Enjoy many months of revalidation, permanent nerve damage and bruised bones.
  • Be found guilty of vandalism, but not get any punishment due to the circumstances of the event.
  • Be still forced to pay thousands of Euros because the uninsured art work of a local artist got damaged.
  • Face the threat of paying up or spending 39 days in jail.

But I'm not being punished is the claim. Today my lawyer communicated me the final verdict in this case back in the Netherlands, and despite the very act being illegal according to Dutch law, I still have to pay this artist for being too lazy and/or stupid to insure the works she put up on public display where any child could have tipped them over.

To me the impact of all this is largely psychological. There's the injustice of having to pay, sure, but to me this last ruling seems to also have cut the last thread of hope I had that maybe my country of birth would maybe not have been quite so bad. With that hope shattered, and nothing else tying me to the Netherlands after I pay up this punishment, it feels like a chapter will have been closed.

For all I care the entirety of the Netherlands can go slide into the North Sea. All that I harbour towards this country as an institution and symbol is negative. It's a haven of corruption, of intolerance and bigotry. That I got my first name and official gender changed there was almost pure luck, the latter only thanks to German doctors providing the details and performing the procedures Dutch doctors refused to perform or where they felt had to lie about the results.

I will start a crowdfunding thing for this amount I will have to pay later this week, just in case anyone feels like lightening my burden somewhat - both financially and psychologically - since it's still a considerable chunk out of my meagre savings. I have only been able to save up for the past two years, after all, courtesy of having been robbed clean of money and possessions in 2013.

My general mood at this point is still one of mostly shock, as well as bitterness and disappointment. It is the last vile act by a country which I once saw as my home and where I felt at home. After more than a decade that feeling of safety and belonging has been stripped away, until only the barren reality remained. I cannot and will not ever return to the Netherlands. It's a part of my past that is so hideous and so repugnant that it benefits no one to linger any period of time on it, let alone within its borders.

Only way forward from the lowest point is up, right?


Monday, 2 November 2015

That horrible moment before judgement is rendered

Waiting for a possibly life-changing or at least very important moment in my life is something which I have gone through more than a hundred times in the past decade. From the thrilling adrenaline rush prior to a live TV appearance, to the nauseating, hyperventilation-inducing experience of doctor appointments, down to the absolute horror of hearing the results from a doctor or such.

Sometimes the latter can be positive, such as when I had my first MRI scan in Germany and the radiologist afterwards confirmed my intersex status. Usually it is negative, however. Most appointments with doctors ended up with them trying to make me 'see' that I had to start believing that I am not intersex, but transsexual. That everything I had been told by German doctors was a lie and nothing on the MRI scans showed that I could possibly be intersex, let alone a hermaphrodite.

Similarly soul-crushing is to wait to hear judgement rendered against you in a legal case where officially you haven't even received punishment, but you are still waiting to hear what your punishment will be. I assume that paying a very large sum of money is a form of punishment, at least.

This particular ruling will occur tomorrow, definitively ending a more than 4-year long journey from court case to court case through the Dutch justice system, which saw charge after charge against me dropped as my medical background and its resulting psychological traumas provided sufficient reason to explain and excuse my behaviour, leading to the previous verdict, dating back to a court case last year when I last appealed the verdict preceding it.

Here, too, is there the possibility of extreme joy or extreme psychological pain. Joy if the punishment is not upheld and I am free to go. Pain if I have to accept the punishment, for I will have to give up a large chunk of my savings, and I will feel even more bitter about a so-called justice system which violates even even its own rules under which it is not allowed to assign monetary punishment if no other punishment is assigned.

Two possible outcomes tomorrow. The end of too many years of agony and many psychological and physical scars and injuries. Hopefully the last I will have to do with the Netherlands in any form or shape. Hopefully another step towards me moving on with my life, instead of being held back by the past.

For now there's only tension, uncertainty and nausea.


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Why feminists like Sarkeesian and kin really get on my nerves

To not have heard anything about Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and other self-professed feminists the past years, one must have lived underneath one serious rock. Amidst unsubstantiated claims of sexism in video games, broad-ranging fraud in gaming journalism and the (in)famous quote by Sarkeesian that 'everything is sexist, you just got to keep pointing it out', a surge of so-called '3rd-wave feminism' took hold of the world.

What this essentially came down to was media report after media report of gang rapes on university campuses, of women being only paid a pittance at work compared to their male colleagues while having to suffer constant sexual harassment. Of women only being used as objects in movies, video games and accusations of young boys being 'programmed' this way to become abusive, objectifying monsters themselves when they grew up.

Most of this was quite familiar to many people already, at least those who had been around during the late 90s when the now infamous lawyer Jack Thompson made it his campaign to point out that everything in video games was about violence and that this was the explanation behind the (non-existing) rise in real-life violence, including the Columbine mass-shooting which supposedly was 'caused' by the video game 'Doom'.

Thompson's range of lawsuits and basic premise was soon to be found to be without any merit whatsoever, with study after study finding no link between violent video games and real-life violence. In fact, around the time that the first 3D first-person shooters were being introduced in the US, the crime statistics show a sharp drop-off in violent crimes. Ultimately Thompson was kicked out of the lawyer profession and faded away into obscurity.

Fast-forward to 2014 and we got Sarkeesian and others loudly proclaiming that it is 'proven' that sexism and sexual violence in video games teach boys and men to be sexist and violent towards women in real life as well. Sounds familiar? It should be, because it's the same song and dance all over again, only this time the main character is a woman and not a lawyer. Cue the 'must protect all women' politically correct memes.

After collecting over half a million dollars in donations and getting invited to the United Nations to propose legislation which would make it basically illegal to disagree with a woman/feminist on 'anti-harassment' grounds, those of us who are not part of Sarkeesian's army of loyal feminists and social justice warriors now are expected to go along with this, or risk being accused to 'harassment', 'rape threats', 'internalised misogyny' and 'supporting the patriarchy'.

Frankly it's all such an immense pile of hogwash, it is astounding that the world plus dog have gone along in it for so long. Or at least the mass media has, reporting on each accusation uttered by Sarkeesian et al. as if it is part of the Holy Gospel itself. Some have already jokingly begun to refer to Sarkeesian as the Pope of the Church of Feminism.

Now, let's wind back a bit. First of all, let's see what Sarkeesian and yours truly have in common. We are both white women. We were both raised in a rich, Western country. Both of us have been provided with virtually every opportunity imaginable. And yet Sarkeesian is claiming that she receives constant harassment and abuse from men, and that women in general in Western society are being oppressed, objectified and have little say in their future.

I cannot say that I share this opinion at all. In fact, I have a view on this issue which Sarkeesian doesn't and likely never will have, thanks to the things we do not have in common. I was namely not born as a regular woman, but as an intersex - specifically a hermaphrodite - woman and due to this spent the first two decades of my life thinking that I was male, due to my body's physiology and my environment.

Basically I am supposed to have experienced the 'male privilege' people like Sarkeesian claim exist and which women do not have access to. If this exists, I am not sure what it would be. I was bullied, harassed, beaten up and had to defend myself against bullies despite supposedly being part of the 'patriarchy'. I went through primary and high school being lonely and feeling different, ultimately finding out about my own giftedness.

Being gifted is a terrible curse and gift. Society doesn't understand it and the amount of cruel jokes, misunderstandings and outright abuse you receive as a result of it is astounding. All that you are theoretically capable of is mostly wasted on trying to deal with a society which is primitive, flawed and ignorant. It doesn't feel like you truly belong on the same planet as the people around you, but were transported there from the future or some advanced alien society.

Later I also found out that I had never been male, but am this intersex female. A hermaphrodite. If I thought before that being gifted was hard to live with, being openly intersex quickly made me reconsider that notion.

I learned about the horrific world of genital mutilation being forced upon intersex infants in so-called 'normalisation' surgeries, medical records being kept hidden from the victims of these practices, and a general approach towards exterminating every trace of intersex individuals, even classifying intersex as a disorder, with the term 'Disorder of Sex Development' (DSD).

For myself, I was brainwashed, made to believe that I had to be transsexual, go along with the whole transsexual protocol and undergo genital mutilation so that every trace of my intersex condition could be removed. I would be 'cured' at that point. I am pretty sure that is the standard approach among psychologists and physicians towards intersex cases. It is the reason why I fled my country of birth, to escape this level of persecution which saw me unable to get proper medical help for my condition.

As a result I suffered severe Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), along with a host of other traumatic disorders, as I began to suffer medical complications as a result of my untreated intersex condition. At this point I am still looking for medical help.

Did I mention that I have also been living as a woman for the past eleven years or so, the past three officially, even?

Being a woman never was a problem. Sure, I had to learn how to deal with (heterosexual) men, as due to my lack of a real puberty I was left completely naive and wholly unprepared for male attention. True, I did get raped back in 2006, but I would not put that on 'being a woman'. On that issue I blame being intersex and the largest 'gender team' in the Netherlands mistreating my case in every way possible, reducing me to an uncertain shell of a human being, looking for just someone to give some attention. On that count my hatred is fully directed towards the pig-faced bastard who did this to me, as well as those Dutch medical 'specialists'.

So no, being a woman never was a problem or issue. Being gifted and intersex most definitely were, though. It makes sense in a sick kind of way as well: men and women are normal in society, after all, while gifted and intersex people are seen as 'freaks' and not quite 'normal' humans. With doctors teaching (prospective) parents to see intersex children as being the victims of a birth defect, tragedy is unavoidable. Have fun randomly assigning a physical sex.

And gifted children? Child prodigies often burn out at an early age, never fitting well into society. Most others prefer to withdraw from the same society which harassed and bullied them and later simply refused to understand them. It is mostly just a lonely existence.

Returning to these self-professed, 3rd-wave, radical feminist types like this Anita Sarkeesian, I would thus like to in summary proclaim them to be a collection of self-absorbed, delusional and very pathetic whiners. They like to imagine a world in which their existence is required, where they can feel validated, even if it is at the cost of those women who do not wish to go along with their ideology, not to mention society in general.

I would never call myself a feminist. I proudly proclaim myself to be a humanist, for I do not discriminate. To me each person's suffering is equal. As I type this, both men and women are being oppressed in the cruel, Shari'a-ruled country of Saudi-Arabia. In Thailand young girls and boys are being raped in brothels by mostly Western tourists. In oligarchies like the US a small elite remain unfathomably rich at the cost of everyone else.

I am a strong believer in giving everyone an equal start and opportunities in life. One's accident of birth should be no ground for determining in any way or form what one can or cannot become in life. I believe in self-determination: full control over one's own life and body. I am vehemently against non-critical, non-medical surgeries on babies, infants and others who cannot make a decision about it themselves. I could not care in the slightest what the gender, sex, sexual-orientation, skin-colour, religion or favourite colour or food is of the person in question.

And Sarkeesian et al.? They would like to prosecute everyone online who disagrees with them, because mean messages on Twitter give them 'PTSD'. They're not victims. They just play one on TV.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Some ways to ruin a weekend

Yesterday as the last working day of the week was winding down, I found myself not exactly enthusiastically looking forward to the weekend. My main issue was that of the court ruling next week in the legal case in the Netherlands [1]. The matter thereby is that even though I have been cleared of any wrongdoing which would necessitate punishment, they can still punish me by having me pay an exorbitant amount of money as 'reparations'. To me that's still punishment and current Dutch law agrees with me, but one never knows what the court will decide.

As a result I wasn't looking forward to heading into the weekend, knowing what is waiting for me after it. I'll just have to face whatever comes, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Then last night I began to feel quite nauseous. Heading to bed early, I figured it was just the stress and maybe the food that day. Today I felt just tired and soon began to suffer from the same nausea again, accompanied by stabbing pains in my head, focused on the top left side. I know from experience that this pain means that part of my skin in that area will soon be turning extremely sensitive.

The nausea was new, though, or at least this particular flavour of nausea. This one was more subtle than the usual types I suffer through. After the day is nearly over and while I am writing this, both the nausea and pain seem to have pretty much fully faded, though I can still feel the skin on my head tingling and otherwise feeling weird.

Also at some point during the day I decided to throw this stabbing-pain-in-the-head symptoms into WebMD just to see what it would throw up and there I actually stumbled over an interesting symptom in its list of suggestions. The symptom related to sudden, aggressive anger and linked to a condition called PMDD, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder [2], which is an extreme version of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) [3].

PMS is something I am of course quite familiar with, but PMDD was completely new to me. Of the PMS symptoms as listed on Wikipedia I am intimately familiar with the bloating, lower back pain, abdominal cramps, swelling and tenderness in the breasts, cyclic acne and joint (hips, knees) and muscle pain (legs mostly).

A few days ago I was complaining to my best friend that I was feeling so incredibly irritable lately, to the point where a single setback - no matter how minor - would cause me to want to incite in rage. When I wasn't feeling like that I would just want to cry and feel horrible for myself. While the latter symptoms aren't that unusual for me, the former definitely are. It takes much more than just something simple to make me want to throw something heavy across a room or choke a puppy. But there I was, constantly having to hold back from sudden outbursts of rage.

Of the symptoms listed for PMDD, I can recognise a number which overlap with my PTSD and other traumatic disorders I have been diagnosed with:

  • Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling out of control

Symptoms which I can more or less unique assign to PMDD would be the following:

  • Mood swings or frequent crying
  • Lasting irritability or anger that affects other people
  • Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Food cravings or binge eating
  • Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain

What is clear to me is there is likely a severe and developing hormonal balance issue forming within my body in so far as it hasn't already. From the appearance of linea nigra and other pregnancy symptoms to increasingly severe PMS symptoms, including migraines, it's becoming hard to deny that proper research is an absolute and urgent requirement.

I will have to compile all of the above along with the medical files and a summary of the research questions and facts so far for my appointments with the gynaecologist and endocrinologist the coming months. PMDD is however an interesting addition to look at it if the symptoms do not vanish by themselves if the stress factors are reduced or removed.

For all I know, this feeling of incredible tiredness and being quick to anger is simply due to normal PMS combined with stress, PTSD and general lack of sleep and rest. The heavens know that 'rest' is one of those words which have fallen into disuse over the past decades until they ultimately got stricken and discarded from my personal dictionary.

Not having to pay that ridiculous punishment, getting proper medical help at long last and moving to a new, quiet place would go a long way to alleviating much of the stress I feel burdened by at this point. Only the future knows what will happen next, though.

I hope that my body can stop being a bloody medical experiment, though. It really isn't fun any more...



Thursday, 29 October 2015

Reflections only ever lie

Today was a pretty warm day and silly me was wearing my winter coat as I had been doing for the past (colder) weeks as I cycled to the office. At arrival I was thus more than happy to take off said coat before heading into the building and let the warm Autumn air cool down my skin somewhat.

Walking inside with my coat on one arm and wearing little more than a tank top above my jeans, I waited for the next elevator together with this man who was already waiting there. Right from the beginning it was obvious that he liked what he saw, as his eyes scanned my body. Engaging in friendly conversation despite all this, I was nevertheless happy to get out of the elevator on my floor.

I know from experiences that heterosexual men consider me to be quite attractive. I think I can kind of understand why, yet at the same time it makes me feel confused and sad.

There are many times when I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflection somewhere and I suddenly realise that damn, I do look like a woman. Many times when I am alone I will stand in front of a mirror, acknowledging that I can only describe the body I see reflected back at me as that of a tall, ivory-skinned, reddish-haired woman. I will then proceed to tell myself in an ironic tone that I really, really look like a guy, as all of those doctors and psychologists have been telling me for over a decade.

Also, before that decade I was simply supposed to be a boy, then a guy, and that was the end of it. Now I'm a woman. Kinda. Depends on which doctor or psychologist you ask.

The two doctor appointments I have the coming two months are essentially yet again about bringing clarity to the question of what I actually am. What should I be seeing in a mirror's reflection? What do others truly see when they look at me? What is the medical and biological reality? Could I maybe truly be not only a woman, but also be fertile as one? What is the reality I should accept and embrace?

The fact that there are male to female transsexuals out there who look pretty much like natural-born women terrifies me. It feeds the fear that looks can mean absolutely nothing. That the outside is irrelevant and can be moulded into anything one likes. That the mirror's reflection lies to me.

That just makes it more important to me to learn what is going on inside this body of mine. Whether I truly have been menstruating for the past two decades and that this explains the monthly pains during that time. What my natural hormone cycle looks like. Whether I am overdosing on hormones right now because my body is far more feminine than I had assumed years ago when I tested my levels for the last time. Whether I have functional ovaries.

Whether I truly am intersex.

Part of me acknowledges that it is not a settled matter, that at this point I'm still a nothing, a no-body, a medical question mark. That at this point nobody can say that I am male, female, intersex or something else. Medical opinions are all over the board after all.

Some days I wonder whether I will ever know the truth, or whether there even is a truth. This then leads me to consider the point of continuing to live if the coming decades will be just like the past decades, filled with doubt, uncertainty, fear and continuing scorn and harassment from so-called medical and healthcare professionals.

I wish I was born normal, or not at all. Anything else is just a life filled with incredible pain.