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...