Thursday, 30 June 2016

The tragedy of a cry for help

It's been over fifteen years since I lost a cousin. After experiencing sexual abuse by her grandfather and uncle as a young child for many years, subsequently the Dutch justice system completely failed her, psychological help failed and her own family protected the rapists instead. After years of this she took her own life, thus ending her suffering at long last.

To my mother and I it's still a topic we can get really upset about, and is the primary reason why we do not wish to have any contact with this part of the family any more. Like my mother, I'm not sure I could stay civil in the presence of such... people, and thus I won't even chance it. Fortunately, now that I have left the Netherlands for good, there is pretty much zero chance of such an encounter ever happening.

This cousin was a year older than I was at the time. I'm familiar with her struggles and I do not feel terrible that she escaped countless more years of suffering, yet at the same time I still that I could have done something, anything to prevent such a waste of an innocent life as the cost of a failing judicial system and unscrupulous, evil people. She had been crying out for help for so many years, but nobody wanted or could help her. Not even her own mother.

In 2009 someone who I considered to be a friend at the time told me when I asked why he was becoming more distant, that he had thought that I would be committing suicide soon, and that's why he wanted to distance himself emotionally.

In early 2011 the continued lack of medical and psychological help, and without friends to fall back on, being forced to leave this friend's place and face homelessness drove me to attempt suicide. I was going to lose the little I still had left in life after all, so why not just cash in, check out and rest peacefully? It wasn't like anyone was going to help me anyway.

Currently I'm feeling somewhat like I did back then, before I attempted to commit suicide. The same feeling of hopelessness, of fear that at any moment now I'll lose everything and that will be the end of it. Between being fined well over 3,000 Euro for suffering a blackout, having my landlady threaten to send lawyers after me and generally not being able to feel at ease or safe in any sense of the word, I feel that I am at least justified for feeling this terrified.

Sure, I am getting medical help, and also something which turn into psychological help, yet after I had an acquaintance guilt-trip me for not following a lead on a possible house to rent and I suffered an almost instant mental breakdown as a result, I realised again just how fragile my mental and emotional stability is. When I say that I'm 'tired', I don't mean just that I need a good night's sleep. I'm emotionally and mentally exhausted. I don't have any reserves left.

It's easier to just give in to fatalism. It's easier to just give up. Because there is no real point to it anyway. My cries for help the past years have been largely ignored. When I say that I cannot do something anything 'simple' any more, such as doing groceries, hunting houses and what not, I am not trying to be interesting, whine or merely attract attention. I say it because I'm this close to attempt suicide again. And this time I likely won't fail.

And how stupid would it be for me to die when I'm this close to a resolution? Medical help is on its way. I just need to find a stupid new house to move into so that I won't be harassed by stupid landlords who ignore maintenance and the well-being of their tenants. I just need to recover financially and psychologically from having to pay this punishment for being intersex. That's all.

Yet I cannot do it myself. The cost of just writing this text has been numerous bloody scratches on my neck and arms, as well as my hands trying to choke the life out of my own throat. Not because I want to or because it makes sense or because it will help me in any way. Simply because I'm so desperate for someone to help me that I am resorting to self-mutilation again as the only possible way to deal with this impossible stress...

This is my cry for help.

Feel free to ignore it.

I won't blame you.

It'll all go away by itself.


Saturday, 25 June 2016

Nationalism and its utter disregard for people

At the end of the second World War, people in Europe were forced to confront the toll of centuries of unchecked nationalism, amidst the ruins of Europe's nations. During these centuries, alliances had been forged and broken again between Europe's nations. Wars had been waged, whether to gain land, influence, or for religious reasons, a combination of which led to Spain, France and England almost constantly waging war against each other.

Europe's nations were forged amidst this conflict, each nation liberally drenched in blood while protecting itself against its neighbours. This reached a bloody climax as technology made war ever more destructive and large-scale, culminating in the First and then Second World War. As the British and Ottoman Empires crumbled, and Europe struggled to come to terms with its own identity after those two bloody wars, people rightfully blamed Nationalism.

Nationalism is the belief that one's own country and culture are superior to all others. This was extremely apparent in the NSDAP's move towards segregating Germany's and ultimately the world's inhabitants into the superior and inferior, with Nazi Germany itself portrayed as the ultimate homeland which would bring light and justice to the rest of the world.

Yet today's Nationalism is practically the same. From the UK's UKIP, to Front National in France, the AfD and NPD in Germany and the many other nationalistic parties elsewhere in Europe, their focus is the same: to regain the superior independence of their respective country, they first have to destroy all unity between countries. The reason for this is simple: unity and cooperation does not exist in Nationalism, except between those fortunate enough to be part of the superior race.

This leads to the rather obvious notion that Nationalism - being a blind idealism - has no regard for nuances such as human rights or the plight of individuals. For why would they? The superiority of their country and its culture is self-evident. Everybody is just expected to fall into line at that point, or risk being branded an Enemy of the State.

Here history throws up the countless examples of how Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Communistic China, Imperial Japan and various incarnations of the USA dealt with those who refused to fall into line, whether incarceration, execution or worse. They are the dystopian scenarios which we prefer to associate with parts of human history which we will never visit again.

Yet amidst unchecked Nationalism in the UK, France, the Netherlands, the USA and countless other countries, the arguments offered by the supporters of this new Nationalism - that they are not just a fresh incarnation of the same Nationalism that pushed Europe into two world wars - sound very hollow as the same xenophobic, isolationist and nationalistic statements are uttered.

In the 1920s and 1930s it was the large influx of refugees and immigrants from the Middle East which provided welcome fuel for the NSDAP's campaign to take back the country and restore Germany's pride as a nation. While a significant number of Germans and other Europeans expressed their concerns at this, with some leaving Europe for the USA and elsewhere, ultimately they could not stop the ultimately unstoppable rush into the destructive insanity of another world war and the genocide of all of those who did not fit the profile of the superior race.

Amidst the ruins of Europe's nations in the late 1940s and during the poor 1950s, the phrase 'Never again' was on everybody's lips. It was clear to most that the only way to fight Nationalism was to strive for unity and cooperation between Europe's nations. Differences should be settled amicably in meeting rooms instead of with trade wars, skirmishes and outright war.

This realisation led to the formation of the UN, NATO, the EEC and ultimately the EU. While not a universally shared feeling among Europeans, the formation of the European Union has led to a new awareness. An awareness which is not bound to a singular nation, but to Europe itself, as an inhabitant of the EU. With especially younger generations making grateful use of freedom of travel and the freedom to study, live and work anywhere within the EU, for the first time in Europe's history national borders stand to become irrelevant.

The loss of national identity - while a settled matter for many - is a frightening prospect for many others, thus providing the fertile ground for Nationalism. It's a loss more frightening than the utter incompetence of one's national government, and thus easily exploited by the unscrupulous.

When the people of Germany saw themselves - in their eyes unfairly - condemned to a life of poverty with no hope for a better future thanks to the Paris Peace Treaty after the First World War, they embraced the hope being offered by the nationalistic NSDAP. One could ask there whether they voted for the wrong party, or what else they could have done. If the NSDAP had not won the elections, then they would have paid reparations until into the 1980s with no standing army and no heavy industry.

One could say that the nationalistic attitudes of the UK and France when they drafted that peace treaty played into the Nationalism that was just waiting for a chance in Austria and Germany. Pessimistically one could say that the Allied forces set Europe up for a new world war because they could not be bothered to consider the human cost of the treaty Germany was forced to sign.

Moving back to present day Europe, one has to severely question the wisdom of breaking unity and cooperation, and assuming that one will be better off alone. There is nothing in history which might suggest that going at it alone is wise unless you are for example drowning in oil and everybody wants to be your best friend as a result.

Nationalism does not make money. It does not grow food or provide clean water to the population. It's a destructive fantasy which cannot and will not take reality or history into account. It is the pinnacle of political delusions. At some point reality does have to be acknowledged, with the harsh, cold light of truth showing that no country is better than another, and the thought of a superior culture or race merely terrible hubris.

While being painfully aware of the historical context of Nationalism, I find that at this point that I and many others with me can only hope that humanity has in fact learned from history and that we can keep up that promise we made, so many decades ago: "Never again".


Monday, 20 June 2016

Drown again and again until embracing death

If I had to summarise my feelings today it would probably be 'intense sorrow'. With the mounting stresses on me, I feel as if I'm rapidly approaching the breaking point. Even though part of me continues to optimistically march forward through this hellscape that is life, the remainder feels just pain and wishes for death.

The thing which wears the most away at one's soul is that of never feeling safe. Of knowing that always that darkness is lurking somewhere. That at any point one can be pulled suddenly down into the dark waters with sickeningly warm tentacles of darkness wrapping all around one. Then one is drowning. Drowning in darkness.

Drowning is an interesting thing. For many people who end up dying from drowning, it's because they realised that there was no way out, no rescue; floundering until they were too weak to struggle any longer. Unable to keep their head above the water and their legs kicking, they are forced to find peace with their imminent demise.

Similarly, with depression and trauma it's not water which drowns one, but this darkness that grows and envelops one's mind. Sustaining itself on stress, pain and negative emotions, it also awaits those moments of weakness, when one's struggling grows weaker, at which point the darkness surges forward, consuming all it can.

Each time, the victim grows weaker. Even if they seem to recover afterwards, another bit of their vitality and energy is lost. Time after time, month after month, year after year... the end is pretty much inevitable.

In my own situation I know what bothers me a lot. Foremost is the injustice of having to pay this massive fine for something I did not do, with the drying up of donations after a month reinforcing the thought that people feel that I am a liar and should just admit to being an unreliable, violent charlatan.

After that comes the knowledge that I have to find a house to rent as soon as possible, because this apartment is making me sick, is unsuitable to recover in from surgery, forces me to sleep with earplugs in every night and also has the owner harassing me to pay more money than they can demand. Even after more than a month of asking and looking around, I haven't found an alternative yet. The fear that I won't be able to find anything and that more trouble is coming soon is terrifying me.

Finally, there are the countless projects I'm working on. As I try to find myself again after having lost my identity decades ago, I seek to create the career and future I wished for myself, but never could accomplish because I was too lost. The uncertainty of whether I can accomplish any of this now at this late stage is also worrying me a lot.

In the end, when making up the balance I simply feel too hated, too loathed, too ignored, too different to live in this society. The things I have had to suffer through and some things I have to accept today are inhumane or simply unacceptable. Regularly I am confronted with these facts, such as today, and feel myself drowning in darkness.

Through it all there is the tantalising lure of sweet oblivion. It would be so simple. It doesn't take more than a single moment of bravery, or a simple tank of nitrogen with a breathing mask and it'd all be over. The human body is so fragile, after all, and the spark of the mind so easily extinguished.

I feel so terribly alone. I feel that nobody truly cares about whether I live or die, as I suffer through each day. This means that the only person I need to care about is myself, and whether I care whether I live or die. Truthfully, at moments like these - when all I can see and feel is darkness - I'd gladly embrace death.

Stop struggling. Stop kicking. Just drift off into the fathomless depths and the tender embrace of oblivion.

I feel so incredibly tired...


Saturday, 18 June 2016

Defending having a mental disorder

I am one of those people who are 'gifted' with photographic memory, meaning that we can remember (too) many details of anything we see and observe. I am used to zip between scenes in my mind, playing them back in near-perfect visual clarity, details blending together in an almost seamless manner. That is also exactly why that one event, about five years ago now, frightens me so much, as it is essentially a gap in my memories.

I do remember nothing more than just some streaked blurs of the event: my hand grabbing the side of a glass panel, me sitting on the floor with blood dripping from my hand onto the floor, me walking outside (seeing only the ground), people bashing my head into a solid object, ripping my clothes off my body, feeling them sitting on top of me while metal handcuffs cut deeply into my wrists. Also the incredible, agonising pain.

Then the perfect clarity returning as I am lying there, practically naked, in this police cell. The realisation of what probably happened between me entering that GP's office together with my mother and my current situation. Then the police office and my assigned lawyer filling in the blanks. The bitter confrontation with the fact that my body has done something terrible while I was not able to stop it from doing those things.

Five years of legal hearings and fruitless appeals followed. All charges were dropped and no official punishment assigned, yet with me still being forced to pay for the damage to a local artist's uninsured statues to 'provide a deterrent for doing it again'. Their psychiatrist concluded after briefly seeing me that I was still partially responsible for my actions, something which my own psychotherapist fully disagreed with.

I have severe post-traumatic stress disorder. At the time of this event, five years ago, it had been six years already during which I had tried to and failed to find help with my intersex condition. I had suffered brainwashing as doctors and psychologists had tried incessantly to make me believe that I had to be a regular boy or transsexual, despite conclusive evidence from German clinics in 2007 and again in 2008.

Every time I suffered the same series of denials, suggestions of me being crazy, the undressing and subsequent fondling by physicians including penetrations. The constant lies, deceptions, delays and redirecting. In between all of that there was also me getting raped and suffering sexual, physical and psychological abuse. I don't know how I did bear all of that. I'm not sure I ever really did.

What I have is a mental disorder. PTSD alters the way the brain works in response to certain triggers, so that one doesn't have any conscious control over it. As my psychotherapist explained it to me - as well as to the court - what I suffered during that incident was a so-called blackout. Likely originating in my PTSD, but also with characteristics of a dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Basically, I literally wasn't myself at that point, which explains why I have virtually no memories of the event in question. I could not have been expected to be able to control my actions after that GP assistant made that one derogatory remark about me, which according to my mother was what ultimately made me 'snap'. She described how my entire behaviour after that suddenly completely changed.

Late last year when I first got the notice from my last lawyer in this case that the final appeal had been rejected with the financial punishment still being in place, I decided to try seeing how many people would wish to support me financially. This would allow me to pay the fine of thousands of Euro without me having to sacrifice my meagre savings for what I could only perceive as complete injustice.

As I feared, among the plentiful support, there were also many of those who called me horrible things, suggesting that I was just pretending in order to not have to pay the fine myself. That is perhaps the worst thing of this all, that after years of judges gleefully punishing me for something I could not have prevented no matter how much I might have wanted to, many others would dismiss my traumas, PTSD and blackout episode as a 'fantasy'.

I have a mental disorder. One cannot see it from the outside, but I can feel it most of the time. Sitting perched there in my brain like an ominous shadow. It changes how I experience and live my life. I know it will never go away. But that is okay. It's still part of myself, and I know how it works now. More or less.

What I cannot deal with are those who ignore this part of me. Who dismiss the traumatic events I have been through over the past twelve years. I cannot convince them. I cannot defend against those people. How would I? It's all just literally inside my head, no matter how real it is. One just has to dismiss my past experiences and all that remains is just me as a snivelling... something, asking others to pay for her misdeeds as an aggressive, impulsive, violent, manipulative criminal.

Am I the victim here? Or the perpetrator? It depends on who you ask, apparently.


P.S.: yesterday I wrote a post about the letter detailing the fine, with a link to the fundraising campaign, if anyone is interested:

Friday, 17 June 2016

Punishment for being intersex: time to pay up

Five years ago I found myself lying naked and bruised in a police cell, missing a large gap in my memory beyond some vague and very traumatising impressions of metal biting into my wrists, my head being slammed into solid objects and people grasping at me and yelling at me.

Apparently after years of psychological torture by Dutch physicians and psychologists, and a complete lack of help or understanding for my intersex condition, it seems that the rude, unwelcoming behaviour by this one last general physician's office had finally pushed me over the edge.

While the damage to the hallway was covered by insurance and all charges - including attempted manslaughter, etc. - were dropped, unfortunately the statues of a local artist had also been destroyed. Worse, she had never bothered to insure them, so as punishment I was punished, but also not punished by being forced to pay for the damage. Not punished, because officially in Dutch law someone cannot be punished if they are not charged with a crime (like me), yet I still got punished.

In light of the years of recovery following this incident, including the glass wounds to my hand, the bruised bone in my right knee, the swelling and peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves) in my right leg and arm, it seemed rather cruel to assign me this punishment, especially with my psychotherapist supporting me. I was not, could not be made responsible for my actions, due to the years of severe psychological pressure and trauma leading up to the incident.

Today I then finally got the final amount which has to be paid (slightly increased, because I apparently I did not receive the first letter...). This after years of fruitless legal cases, trying to get this punishment thrown out, to no avail, only resulting in hefty lawyer costs.

Here's a photo of the letter in question:

3,433.63 Euro. This in light of me having exactly zero Euro to my name in early 2013, only being able to sustain myself now thanks to getting a job shortly afterwards. In addition to it being a hefty chunk of the tiny bit of money I have managed to save up so far, it also seems hugely unfair to be punished like this for something I could not have prevented, other maybe than by giving up on physicians or escaping the Netherlands sooner.

Because of this unfairness I have set up a donation campaign to see how many people would be willing to pitch in and lower the financial and emotional burden on me. So far over one and a half thousand Euro have been donated, still about one-thousand and nine-hundred Euro short of the punishment amount:

I do not expect people to take pity on me, or feel that they have to donate out of some kind of obligation. I only desire for people to put themselves in my situation and consider what they themselves would have done. Right after the incident and right now, at the end of a losing streak of legal appeals.

At least after I pay this amount I should finally be free of the Netherlands and all of its unfair, corrupted systems. It'll be with bitterness that I will close this chapter in my life, but I will be free at last.

Thank you.


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Questionable health

For the past years it seems like my health has been degrading slowly. Even though some (monthly) symptoms had been there already before, it's only been for the past three years or so that more serious symptoms like numbness in the right leg and severe abdominal pain have become a common thing.

Today I stayed sick at home, partially due to what feels like a cold with coughing, dull headache and wobbly legs, but also because my abdomen feel distended and sore, along with occasional agonising pain in said abdomen as well as in my right side.

After the most recent experimentation with hormones the start of my monthly cycle appears to be now around the 15th of the month (when I restarted the estradiol therapy for a month, not so coincidentally). It's right on time, with other words. Beyond abdominal pain I'm also feeling a lot of nausea since yesterday, along with a dull headache. All very typical, I guess.

Sadly it looks like it'll be months at least before there can be a chance of me not being a medical experiment any more. With the reconstructive surgery it should become a lot easier to get an idea of what is happening with my body each month. Maybe then one can finally come to a conclusion on endometriosis and possible treatments. What I am going through each month is still pretty extreme, and not getting better (especially when not provoking it with an overdose of estradiol).

I'll have to see how I'll feel tomorrow. At the moment I'm not really sure what to do with myself, between feeling exhausted, in pain and incredibly nauseous. Just got to hang in there, I guess. As usual.


Saturday, 11 June 2016

Fighting against the darkness

This whole concept of me somehow becoming part of 'normal' life is an interesting one. My youth I spent mostly by myself, reading books or playing games on the computer or console. My teenage years I spent by myself, while suffering bullying and harassment by my classmates. My tween years were spent trying to find the truth about myself and my body, fighting against national and international institutions while losing the ability to care what others did to my body, as long as I wasn't completely alone.

They were decades which have left me with darkness covering my heart and soul. Decades which have taught me I will never be... like others. Intellectually I'm too different. Physically I am no part of society. Psychologically I'm too unstable and unusual. The life I have lived so far makes it clear that I do not and never will have anything in common with the people around me.

In light of this it is fairly obvious why I can perform well at a day job as a software developer, yet will more than gladly bow out of social gatherings and events. I do not care to learn about the lives of people around me. I do not wish to think about them having relationships, getting married and starting families. I do not wish to be reminded of the darkness inside my mind.

I do not wish to see others live somewhere pleasant or enjoy a vacation. All I wish for is to shut everything out but those few things in life which are not tainted and corrupted by darkness. Those things being the only things which kept me sane over the past decades: computers, technology, books and science.

Clinging to these few isolated spots of light amidst this endless ocean of darkness formed by humanity, I desperately seek to preserve my sanity. I try to breach the walls that stand between myself and others, only to find out what horrible price doing so will cost me. Even with something as seemingly harmless as a games night at the office with colleagues such as last Friday.

I cannot begin to describe how terrible such a thing makes me feel. For the past months I have tried to tell myself that this time I would participate, but each time I can feel the darkness gnawing at my mind long beforehand. It feels wrong for me to partake in such an event, to even be there. To have the nerve to exist. I do not belong there. I should not, nay, cannot exist in that same reality.

With this darkness so strong inside of me, I feel that it is futile to even pretend to be part of society, or to partake in social events. It won't make anyone happy, or improve anything. It only serves to remind me of an alternative reality which was closed off to me before I was even born.

I will keep smiling in daily life, even if deep inside my heart I can only find solace from the darkness when I'm surrounded by books and computers, instead of people. They won't judge. They won't leer. They won't condemn me. They will always support me, comfort me, and help me grow and heal.


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The folly of seeking human unity

When it comes to human society, two extremes readily present themselves, namely that of a utopia and a dystopia. The former being a human society where its individual members have reached near-complete harmony and levels of cooperation. The latter is the exact opposite, with everyone basically having to fend for themselves, against practically everybody else.

A dystopia also sees oppression, slavery, escaping from reality through drug and other habits, and many other types of unpleasantness. There is no shred of consideration for the well-being of others, let alone room for compassion without this being brutally exploited and punished.

I leave it as an exercise here which of these two scenarios is the more realistic model for human society.

If one has to visualise an individual's mind, it can be done so as a collection of colours, each representing different aspects of the mind and brain. From the effects of the physical structure of sections of the brain, to specific neurotransmitter levels, to memories. Each contributes to this mosaic.

What affects this mosaic are all inputs, with each form of input visualised as a colour as well. Harmonious combinations reinforce the mind's colour, while disharmonious combinations lead to the rejection of the input. In short, this means that a mind will be more susceptible to certain types of inputs than others. It also means that strong stimulation using harmonious inputs can overwhelm the mind.

Such inputs can thereby range from natural sensations, such as a breeze, or the sound of birds, to the involved communications of human society. It is the latter which is the most interesting here. Yet some individuals already show strong differences in their susceptibility to such natural sensations, with some preferring it strongly, while others reject it outright. Here the levels of harmony with the mind mosaic can already be observed.

When it comes to human communication, the biggest difference is that these can carry ideas and concepts. This level of abstraction goes far beyond the consideration of whether a certain sensation is harmonious or not. It is also the foundation on which human society is built, as it fosters and enables cooperation on otherwise inconceivable levels.

Yet consider what happens when one takes a large number of minds, each with their own distinct mosaic and observes their communication. Some communications may be harmonious, while others will not be. Each mosaic is affected differently, with colours growing and shifting. Similar (harmonious) minds will group together, while disharmonious minds will distance themselves.

The realisation hereby is that the starting state for these mosaics are generally fixed at birth, with changes to the brain after this following this existing state, with only traumatic events capable of large-scale, permanent changes. What this basically means is that after the first formative years, the mind's mosaic is practically set in stone. The only thing which will then change are the type of ideas held by the mind.

Ideas are interesting. They are often simple things such as 'it is bad to kill a person', or 'one should not steal from others', while they can also be infinitely more complex. In order for a mind to accept such an idea, it has to be harmonious. This means that its visualised colours have to be correct, or the idea will be fully or partially rejected.

The astute reader may at this point have realised that there has been no mentioning of either intelligence or reasoning in the preceding discussion. The reason for this is that the above operates on a level below what can be considered intelligence, despite it being the primary operating modus for the average individual.

An intelligence can observe ideas, reflect on them and come to a reasonable conclusion based on available evidence. No such process exists for the far more basic mind mosaic, which is only concerned with harmony and disharmony. While a human mind can theoretically operate on the instinctive, mind mosaic (emotional) and intelligence level, the former two are the strongest by far, with the latter generally overwhelmed by the rest.

In such a system made up of individuals unity would thus be accomplished by getting their mind mosaics into a harmonious state, or to have them all basically exclusively use reason. Since neither is realistic with humans, the individuals in any society will seek harmony, cluster together and distance themselves from others. Ideas thereby act more of a poison for unity, with facts being nearly completely irrelevant.

And thus the model of modern human society is fuelled by disharmony, with the only conceivable future a continuing dystopia. Maybe not a full dystopia, as not all individuals in society are this simplistic in their behaviour, yet it will remain the most powerful force within human society for the foreseeable future.


Saturday, 4 June 2016

Awkwardly non-binary in a binary world

Sometimes I picture what my life will be like once I'm free of all this medical nonsense that's still going on. I'd finally be able to just be myself, which I guess is a hermaphroditic human being with many interests and hobbies. While I can see how these interests and hobbies will fit into my future, my future as 'just' a hermaphrodite feels far less defined.

It's not really until one stops defining oneself as being part of either side that it becomes so painfully obvious how incredibly binary society is. It's an indoctrination which starts before a child is even more, with the strict subdivision into 'boy' and 'girl', which are then morphed into 'man' and 'woman'. Cases of transsexuality are thereby regarded as a momentary discomfort before the affected person comfortably settles again into either category.

Not so for us hermaphrodites. We're clearly neither male nor female. Never felt like a 'boy' or 'girl', let alone a 'man' or 'woman'. Yet every time we go to a public toilet, swimming pool and so on we have to confront ourselves with the same question of which category we feel we belong the most to.

Admittedly I prefer mostly to stick to the female side in such matters, as evidenced by my general appearance, my classification as 'female' in my passport, as well as a further preference for things which one generally would refer to as 'feminine'. Yet the question I have to ask here is why many of these things are classified as 'feminine' to begin with.

When the 'masculine' side of the fence is mostly characterised by a severe lack in clothing options, a strict dismissal of make-up, the frowning upon of body care and basically only restrictions in comparison with the 'feminine' side, then one is left wondering whether society isn't just completely deluding itself on this matter.

As a hermaphrodite I am decidedly not binary. I have the primary and some secondary sexual characteristics of both 'men' and 'women', even though I am infertile on either side. In daily life I can generally pass for a regular woman, but there are many situations where I am painfully confronted with the fact that I am not part of this society.

The few times that I have shared a dressing room at a pool with others, it was always the women's side. Yet I'm not just a woman, and I do not want to attract attention, or worse have to explain my physical condition to a crowd of half-naked women while trying to squeeze into a bathing suit. It's pretty much the sole reason why I have avoided saunas since forever.

Maybe it would be better if I were to just ignore the binary partitioning of society. Just get changed in a shared women's room at the swimming pool, and share a sauna with a mixed company without a worry in the world. Maybe.

It's just hard to feel welcome in a world where one's existence is virtually never acknowledged, but where this sex binary is blasted at one from every direction, every waking moment.

Where do I see myself, years from now? Happy with my body, I hope. Maybe even sharing my life at that point with a wonderful woman, fellow hermaphrodite or similar.  Maybe society in that time period will have become less binary, or maybe I will have moved to a non-Western country where a binary way of thinking is less ingrained into society.

Here's to feeling less awkward about merely existing.